Bathing Beauty

Bath time is a great time to assess horse health and keep your horse’s coat gleaming.

From AQHA Corporate Partner Farnam

Bathing is a great opportunity to bond with your horse and assess any health conditions that may escape your attention during regular grooming. The answer to the question “How often should I bathe my horse?” varies, depending on your activity, showing schedule, weather and environment. Oftentimes, a thorough rinsing to remove sweat and loose hair is enough to keep your horse’s coat and skin healthy, and over-shampooing may cause dry skin and coat conditions.

For those times when a shampoo is in order, have on hand a rubber currycomb, sweat scraper, gentle horse shampoo, mane and tail detangler, hose, sponge, towel and bucket of water. When using shampoo, it’s important to use only products specifically made for bathing horses, as other products can deplete essential natural oils and dull the hair coat.

Brush the horse before the bath to remove excess dirt and hair. Then start slowly; most horses love a bath, but for those who are nervous, you may want to start by using a bucket of water (in lieu of a hose), washcloth and sponge. If it’s too cold for a bath, a good going-over with a warm, damp towel might suffice until the weather improves.

A crucial part of grooming your horse is making sure he is clipped properly. A poor clipping job can not only look bad, but it can hurt your horse and make him afraid of clippers. Avoid the negative side effects and learn how to get around a horse's fear of clipping by downloading AQHA's free Horse Clipping Tips report.

If your horse is uneasy, start by rinsing legs first and then move up the body. You can also bathe in sections, like you would wash a car. For horses sensitive to water on their faces, a good wipe with a wet cloth or towel (no soap) is enough. Dunking the whole tail into a bucket of soapy water and swishing it around is a great way to rinse out dirt. Also, a good idea for brushing out a wet tail is to use a detangler like Farnam’s Vetrolin.

Make sure your horse is completely dry before returning him to his stall. A freshly bathed horse will almost always roll, as he is itchy until he dries completely and you don’t want your efforts to be for naught.

Still deciding if you should bathe your horse? Here are some sound bathing reasons:

    • Your horse is going through his end-of-spring shed-out
    • Your horse is caked with mud that’s too thick to get off with a currycomb
    • You have a light-colored horse with a stained coat and you are preparing for an event
    • You need to remove grime and sweat from under tack after a particularly strenuous workout

For a quick rub-out of stains, try Vetrolin Green Spot Out; you won’t need to use water at all.

Farnam loves to hear from our readers. Visit our Facebook page and share your bathing stories with us!

Farnam offers a complete line of grooming products to meet your horse’s every need. For more information, go to

As a trainer of halter horses, AQHA Professional Horseman Randy Jacobs of Dover, Ohio, knows a lot about clipping horses. He has clipped hundreds of horses, from weanlings to stallions to his daughter's old pleasure gelding. In AQHA's free Horse Clipping Tips report, Randy offers his tried-and-true advice on setting yourself up for horse-clipping success, even if that's not what your horse has in mind.