Horses and dirt go together like peanut butter and jelly. They just can’t stay away from each other. In the summer, we think nothing of soaping up our horse, scraping him or her dry, and putting them in the stall or pasture, knowing your horse is clean (well, for now). But the winter presents different challenges. The cold and moisture can present hazards, especially for older horses who cannot maintain their body temperature. So how can you bathe your horse in the winter safely?

How Do You Wash Your Horse In the Winter?

Washing a horse in winter

Gather Your Supplies

A quick bath is best, so having all you need at your fingertips is crucial. Gather a five-gallon bucket, sponge, shampoo, sweat scraper, and thick cloth towel. Keep a cooler within reach as well.

Warm is Key

The two most important things you need when bathing your horse in the winter are a draft-free warm stall (or warm wash stand) and warm water. Cold water won’t cut it for a bath. Make sure temperatures are warmer than 50F. Anything less than that can be harmful to your horse’s health. A great way to maintain the right temperature for a warm bath, try our Insta-Hot® Pro Portable Horse Washing System. Hot water is available in seconds wherever you need to bathe your horse.

Wash in Stages

In summer and spring, spraying your horse, lathering them up, then spraying again does the trick. You never want your horse to be wet for too long in winter. Spot-clean your horse if possible. Does your mare need a medicated shampoo for her neck? Only wash her neck. If their whole body needs a scrub, do it in two parts: front and back. Using a sponge keeps the amount of water you need low, therefore, less water on your horse. After a wash and rinse, scrape excess water off your horse, then rub them down to dry further. Repeat on the next side.

Use the Right Cleaner

Just like humans, horses are susceptible to dryer skin in the winter. Using the right horse shampoos and conditioners makes a huge difference. Dry shampoos can be a great alternative if you are spot-cleaning. Whichever product you use, dishwashing liquid is not recommended for winter. Dishwashing liquid can lead to excessive dryness and infectious skin disease.

Use a Cooler to Wick Away Excess Moisture

The scraper and towel will remove a lot of moisture, but once your horse is slightly damp, use a horse cooler to finish the job. Coolers will keep horses warm as well. This added step will prevent the horse from getting chilled or bacteria from growing on their skin because of the added moisture.

Consider Your Horse’s Overall Health

This is the biggest thing to consider when bathing your horse. Is your horse feeling under the weather? Today might not be the day to bathe your horse. Give them a good brushing, and save the bath for a day when it’s not so cold and/or wet. Remember that horses that are elderly, hard keepers, very young, or prone to respiratory issues should avoid baths in the winter as much as possible.

Five Things You Need To Bathe Your Horse

Winter Horse Bathing Supplies

Having the right things to bathe your horse makes all the difference. In addition to making your winter bathing a snap, our products are best used year-round. Whatever you need to keep your horse clean, Schneiders has the products you need. Here are five things you need to bathe your horse.

  1. Hot Water
  2. Winter washing means hot water. Instead of the hassle of trying to find hot water, the easy-to-use Insta-Hot® Pro Portable Horse Washing System is all you need. The Insta-Hot® increases water temperature up to 96F warmer, three gallons per minute. It’s easy to use and can be used anywhere. It’s also cost-effective, eliminating the need for hot water plumbing systems in your barn.

  3. Washing Equipment
  4. No cold water hoses and lathering for winter bathing. A bucket for hot water, a sponge for bathing, and towels are all you need. Make sure your towel is absorbent to dry your horse. Terry cloth towels are recommended.

  5. Shampoo and Conditioners
  6. Using the right shampoos and conditioners is important to clean your horse and keep their skin from drying out. A high-quality shampoo, conditioner, and polish will keep your horse clean in the winter while keeping their skin healthy and free from infection and dryness. A mane and tail conditioner and detangler will add extra lushness to your horse’s coat, mane, and tail.

  7. Sweat Scraper
  8. Once your horse has been washed and rinsed, using the two-part washing method (front and then back), use a sweat scraper to get most of the water off their skin and out of their coat.

  9. Cooler
  10. A cooler is the perfect ending to a bath. Coolers keep your horse warm and comfortable after a bath. Choose a fleece cooler to wick away any extra moisture and your clean horse toasty and happy. Choose one that fits your horse properly to prevent any cold spots.

Washing your horse in the winter doesn’t have to be daunting. By adding a few extra steps and remembering the golden rule of keeping your horse warm at all points in the bathing process, winter bathing will be easy. Your horse will be clean and ready to enjoy his winter day…..of getting dirty all over again.