Most of us take a bath or shower everyday, but do our horses really need one that often? Giving a horse a bath more than once or twice a week with soap depletes the coat of oils. These oils do replenish in time, but washing them out too often will give your horse a dull coat. Horses have a delicate balance of bacteria on their skin, which needs to be maintained. You want the horse’s skin and coat to be clean, yet you don’t want to kill the bacteria. Too many baths can also damage the hooves. An easy way to minimize this is to coat the hooves with a petroleum jelly prior to bathing.
Bathe your horse using clear water from a hose alone or wash him with a sponge from a bucket of soapy water, putting soap directly on his coat can sometimes make it difficult to get all of the soap out. Completely soap and rinse one section at a time to prevent the soap from drying on the skin and causing irritation, then follow with a good rinse all over, being sure his coat is soap free. An alternative to bathing with soap is to give him a warm water rinse after any work or riding. If soap isn’t used, a water rinse can be used as often as needed. After washing, put a cooler on the horse, walk him, then bed him in a clean, draft-free stall. A wet horse has to be kept from drafty places to prevent chills. Don’t put him under a fan until he is thoroughly dry. A sparkling clean horse is a joy to see — however, remember that too much bathing can mess up nature’s balance