horse bath, horse bathing supplies

Step-by-Step Guide to Giving Your Horse a Bath


Does your horse love nothing more than to find a mud puddle and roll in it? If you own the Pig-Pen of horses, you’ll quickly become an expert at giving your horse a bath. Regular horse baths are an important part of being a good horse owner. Keep reading to learn how to give your horse a bath and what horse bathing supplies you’ll need. 

Step 1: Make the Wash Stall a Happy Place

grumpy horse bath

It’s pretty difficult to give a scared or nervous horse a bath. For many horses, the wash stall can be a little nerve-wracking if they don’t go in it often or if it’s in a new area of the barn. If your horse doesn’t like baths, overtime they’ll associate the wash stall with horse baths, and pretty soon, they’ll dislike going into the wash stall as well. Luckily, there are a few easy ways you can turn a negative wash stall experience into a positive one. 

Treats are a great way to help your horse feel more comfortable in the wash stall. Grab a handful of your horse’s favorite treats and be sure to give them the treats, praise, and lots of love when they enter the wash stall. If your horse is really nervous for his horse bath, have an assistant hold him and feed him treats or handfuls of grain throughout the process.

If you don’t feel comfortable training your horse to enjoy the wash stall, enlist the help of your trainer or another experienced horse owner. 

Step 2: Gather Up Your Horse Bathing Supplies

horse bathing supplies

Now that your horse is comfortable in the wash stall, it’s time to round up all the horse bathing supplies you’ll need. There are many different shampoos, conditioners, and specialty soaps on the market, so it can be difficult to pick and choose.

Many horse owners just use a basic shampoo, like  Vetrolin Horse Bath Shampoo. This shampoo is a 2-in-1 conditioning shampoo that washes away dirt and dandruff with a thick, rich lather. 

But, if you’d rather separately shampoo and condition your horse’s coat, you can use the Mane ‘N Tail Shampoo and Conditioner. The  Mane ‘N Tail Ultimate Gloss Shampoo has a pH-balanced formula that you can use often without drying out your horse’s skin. Follow this shampoo with the  Mane ‘N Tail Conditioner to leave your horse’s mane, tail, and coat silky soft and shiny. 

If you have a gray horse or a horse with a lot of white markings, you know how difficult it is to get manure and grass stains out of their coat. Luckily, there’s an entire collection of horse bathing supplies that is dedicated to helping you get your gray horse white again. For example,  Quic Silver Whitening Shampoo is effective in removing tough stains including grass, manure, and urine without the use of  bleaches, bluing, or other harsh chemicals.

After you select your shampoos, you’ll need to use a product like the  TuffRider Bathing Sponge. This sponge/brush combination features a sponge center, which is perfect for lathering, and a bristled outer edge to help you scrub at tough dirt stains. 

Last but not least, you’ll need a  Sweat Scraper. Sweat Scrapers squeegee all of the excess water off of your horse. This way you can bring your horse into the barn aisle without dripping water anywhere. Also, many horse owners believe that leaving excess water on the horse can actually cause them to overheat on hot summer days. 

Step 3: Hose Off Your Horse

horse bath, horse bathing supplies

Gather up your grooming supplies and bring your horse into the wash stall– it’s time to start bathing. After securing your horse with crossties, by tying, or handing off your lead rope to your helper, grab the hose and let it run freely to work out any air bubbles in the piping. 

If your barn has warm water available and it’s not too hot out, adjust the water settings to a comfortable temperature. If your horse starts to dance around during the bath, you may need to make it warmer or colder. 

Adjust the hose settings so you can shower your horse with water without power washing their delicate coat and skin. You still need to have enough water pressure to get through the hair and rinse off the soap later on, so be sure to still have a little bit of pressure through the hose nozzle. 

Start on one side of the horse and hose their shoulder or lower leg. This allows your horse to get used to the water. If your horse seems comfortable, proceed to soak one side of their body and then the other. You want to really get them wet. You should see the coat change color and water should drip off of their belly. 

Step 4: Start Scrubbing

horse bath, horse bathing supplies

Now that your horse is nice and wet, it’s time to really start the horse bath! Dilute a shampoo of your choice in a large gallon bucket. Most shampoos will have directions on the back for the correct ratio of water to soap. If not, just ensure that the water is a little frothy and leaves soap bubbles on your horse’s coat. Horse baths do require some elbow grease– use the sponge of your choice and the soapy water in the bucket and get to work!

When scrubbing your horse’s coat, make sure to get their mane as well. Use your hands to get all the way down to the roots of the hair to scrub away any dandruff or dry skin that may be trapped there. This is also a good time to check your horse for ticks, cuts, or lumps that you may not have noticed before.

Step 5: Cleaning the Tail 

clean white horse tail after horse bath

Before going in with the soap, re-wet your horse’s tail. The tail dries very quickly and you’ll want it to be nice and wet in order to get a lather worked up. Once the tail is wet, take a small amount of soap – remember you’ll have to rinse it out– and work the soap into the tail bone with your hands. 

Dandruff and dirt can really build up on the tailbone and cause your horse to itch. An important part of a horse bath is to gently massage the tailbone to get all of that dirt and grime out. 

Next, many horse owners dunk the end of the horse’s tail in the bucket filled with soapy water. This is the easiest way to fill the tail with soap. Some equestrians will hold the bucket up and allow the tail to soak in order to really get it clean, while others will dunk it in the bucket and then work it into a lather with their hands. Try both methods to see what works for you!

Be careful standing near the back end of your horse and remember, safety first.

Step 6: Rinse Off Your Horse

horse bath

Now that your horse is nice and soapy, it’s time to rinse off all of the dirt and grime that you’ve worked out of their coat. Repeat Step 3 in order to get all of the soap off your horse. Pay special attention to areas like the tail and mane, as soap tends to hide close to the skin or tailbone. 

You don’t want to leave any soapy residue behind, so you may want to use your hands again to part the mane and tail and rinse out any soap that’s close to the skin. Soap that isn’t fully rinsed out can cause your horse to feel chalky and could cause itching. In order to avoid this, rinse off your horse twice on each side with the hose. 

Step 7: Squeegee Your Horse

using sweat scraper after horse bath

Once you’ve finished rinsing all the soap off your horse, you have one last thing to do before your horse’s bath is complete. Grab your sweat scraper and use the rubber side to gently squeegee all of the water off your horse. 

Be careful in some extra sensitive areas, like the spine and belly. Instead of going directly on top of the spine, scrape the areas to either side of it. You don’t have to push too hard– light pressure will be enough to get all the water off. 

Once you have pushed off the majority of the water, you’re all done!

Bonus Tip:

Many horses really like to roll in the dirt or sand after a horse bath. To avoid this, hand graze your horse until they’re completely dry before turning them back out into their pasture or stall. 

Your Horse Bath Shopping List

To give your horse the best bath possible, you’ll need several different horse bathing supplies. To make your life easier, we’ve put together a comprehensive horse bathing supplies shopping list. You can purchase all of these  supplies right here, on 

  • Bucket
  • Sponge
  • Shampoo
  • Whitening Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Sweat Scraper
  • Shine Spray
  • Tail Detangler
  • Mane and Tail Brush

Check out our Horse Bathing Collection to find everything you’ll need, all in one place. 

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