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How Often Can You Bathe Your Horse?

This is often a tricky question to answer, because it’s not one size fits all. Horses have different grooming routines, different living environments, different access to mud…. But there are a few things to look for that will help you determine if you are over bathing your horse.

Ideally, your horse is super shiny from a naturally oily coat. This is the result of genetics, a good diet, lots of daily grooming with elbow grease, and perhaps a few hair coat products as well. The oil on your horse, called sebum, creates shine, helps with his immune system by coating the skin, and repels stains. A dry and brittle coat is a stain magnet!

photo courtesy of TAG Equine Services

The shampoo you use and how you use it can affect the amount of natural oils your horse has. Harsh shampoos left on for too long strip the hair. Mild shampoos can leave a bit of natural oil on your horse’s skin. If it’s a harsh shampoo, like the stain removal styles, you should go longer between shampoos so the oils can build up.

Consider the reason for bathing your horse. Did he just have a sweaty workout? Then a rinse with the hose or sponge off is fine. Is he head to toe in manure stains and you have a show in two days? Then bust out the shampoo! Does he have one or two smaller stains that can be treated with a cloth and some stain remover? Then that’s your plan.

Also think about his schedule. Is he showing frequently? In which case you likely want to use a milder shampoo more frequently, with extra curry glove sessions in between to bring out the oils. Does he stay at home? Then perhaps only shampoo when it’s really necessary.

What about the horse that looks great except for his mane and tail? Or his legs? It’s ok to do a spot bath in the wash rack when you need to. No use in wasting shampoo or stripping those natural oils if you don’t absolutely have to.

In between baths, keep up the daily grooming routine. A good curry session before a ride makes sure there’s no dirt trapped under the saddle or bridle. This also lets your hands do some checking to be sure his body feels good. After a ride, use your curry gloves again to remove dried sweat, massage your horse’s muscles, and work on distributing those natural oils.

How often do you bathe your horse?

The Horse Hair Shedding Cycle – This explains everything!

As horse owners, we have come to know that spring time is shedding “season” as our horses lose their winter coats in favor of a cooler and sleeker summer coat. But hair is constantly growing and shedding! It’s part of the life cycle of hair – which means year ‘round curry glove action is needed.

The three stages of a hair’s life cycle are anagen, catagen, and telogen. The anagen phase is happening when hair is actively growing. This is a function of time, not length. The length of the anagen phase is set, and it’s up to good nutrition, good grooming habits, and a healthy skin to make the hairs as long as possible during that phase.

Then comes the catagen phase, where the hair and hair follicle just rest. A new hair might be forming to take it’s place, but mainly there’s nothing going on. This phase might last a few weeks.

Lastly, there’s the telogen phase, where the hair falls out in preparation for a new hair to start the anagen phase.

This explains why your horse will lose hair all year long! A nice curry glove session in the heat of summer will loosen and remove those hairs in the telogen phase. Same in the cold of winter. This also applies to the mane and tail, which of course have much longer anagen phases. There is nothing to do to prevent this natural hair loss – it’s just the same and a human finding hair in their hairbrush.

Animals have one other trick up their sleeve when it comes to shedding and growing a new coat – the length of day. Fall shedding season happens as the daylight decreases, triggering the fuzzy winter coat. There are other minor influencing factors, but light is the big one. The same is true in the spring. More daylight tells your horse to ditch his winter coat for something more comfortable!

It’s perfectly normal to have your horse lose hair all year long. If you find that it’s not growing back, that’s a reason to call the Vet for some intervention! Otherwise, enjoy the daily curry glove grooming with your horse.

Top Five Things to Notice When You Are Grooming Your Horse!

There are dozens of reasons to groom your horse – but what can you learn from your horse as you groom?

  1. What’s going on with his skin? Do you see and feel dry patches, crusty spots, or other new skin things? These could be signs of a skin infection brewing, some rain rot, a rash, a cut or scrape, or even hives. The skin is your horse’s first line of defense in his immune system, so stay ahead of the curve on this.
  2. Did you find some extra itchy places? Maybe your HandsOn Gloves have discovered a brand new favorite place to be scratched. Or, there’s an insect bite, a tick, an itchy skin infection. Dig a little deeper to discern what’s going on.
  3. Are his muscles sore? Using varying pressure as you groom is a great way to check on how your horse’s body feels. A horse that is sore might flinch, move away from you, pin his ears, swish his tail, or otherwise change his demeanor. Sore muscles might mean tack that doesn’t fit, soreness from a work out, or even a brewing lameness.
  4. Are his legs swollen? A daily leg inspection is a good way to make sure there’s no heat or swelling in his legs. It might be something simple, like a new cut that’s swollen, or it might be something more serious like a tendon injury.
  5. Is he sweating? Or not? A horse that sweats is not an alarming thing, it’s his way of cooling down. But, a horse that is sweating excessively might be nervous, or might be in pain. A horse that is not sweating, but should be, is also cause for alarm. Anhidrosis (non-sweating) in horses, needs to be managed so they don’t overheat.

The daily groom can give you a lot of information about how your horse is feeling! Work closely with your Veterinarian if you notice things that have changed about your horse – his skin, demeanor, legs, muscles, and everything else that you touch and see when you are grooming.

How to take care of your HandsOn Gloves

You might start to notice that your HandsOn Gloves getting dustier, dirtier, and maybe even stained over time. This is exactly what is supposed to happen! You are removing dirt, dust, and stains from your horse – and they are landing on your gloves. Better than landing under your fingernails, right?

You might also be wondering how long these HandsOn Gloves last, well, we have not been able to destroy a pair yet. We have run them over, had our horses step on them, and used them on several horses a day for months and months! Cleaning them as needed isn’t going to shorten their lifespan.

The easiest way to clean your HandsOn Gloves is to use them to give your horse, dog, goat or other barnyard creature a bath. Super easy. You can rinse the gloves to remove any leftover soapy bubbles, then dry on a rack, fence, or hang to dry.

You can also just spray them with water, you don’t need a super powerful spray, but a nozzle helps. To dry, same thing. A fence, a hook, or a drying rack will work just fine.

Another alternative is to throw the gloves in the washing machine. Super easy. Avoid the dryer and let your HandsOn Gloves air dry instead.

Top 15 Uses for HandsOn Gloves at the barn!

  1. Daily curry comb. Use it everywhere – legs, faces, belly, body.
  2. Shampoo applicator. Save your sponges for the dishes. Waste less of your shampoo by putting it right in the palm of your glove!
  3. Poultice remover. No need to spend all that time rinsing it away, or using a hard curry that doesn’t fit into the grooves and ridges of your horse’s legs.
  4. Mud eliminator. Avoid the dangerous metal blade of shedding tools and use your hands to get the dried mud away.
  5. Pant leg cleaner. Ever notice how the stall shavings end up like glue on your pants? Use your gloves to sweep them away, just in time to head to the store.
  6. Saddle pad hair remover. Save your washer and dryer from the horse hair overload.
  7. Mane puller. Rather than using a comb, simply pop on your HandsOn Gloves. Use one hand to back comb, the other hand to wrap up the hairs and tug.
  8. Towel holder. After a bath, keep your gloves on as you towel your horse. Nice massage, and your towel doesn’t slide around.
  9. Sticky nozzle twister. The faucet at the wash rack that is sticky? Or slippery because it’s covered in soap bubbles? The gloves have you covered. You might also be able to open that jar of pickles.
  10. Work the burrs out. Horse and burrs seem inevitable, a little bit of grooming oil or sheen and your gloved fingertips get the burrs out gently.
  11. Get the goats, barn cats, and farm dogs clean. Because everyone loves a good grooming.
  12. Farm truck seat shedder. Your car or truck can tell major stories with everything it collects from the barn. Use you gloves to sweep seats and brush floor mats.
  13. Kid trainer. HandsOn Gloves are now in sizes JR to XL, so all of the kids can now do all of the curry combing for you!
  14. Shedding tool. Ditch the blades and use a tool that won’t rust, can go over bony parts, and down horse legs and faces.
  15. Sport boot de-gunker. Your horse comes in from a turn out or ride with muddy and sweaty and hairy boots – use the HandsOn Gloves to clean the tough stuff from the boots.

Grooming Sensitive Horses

Some horses are just plain bothered by grooming, to the point of pinning ears, swishing tails, and striking out or trying to bite.  It’s up to you as your horse’s caretaker to figure out why, and then you can modify your grooming routine.

  • Some common reasons for hypersensitivity include:
    A thinner skin!  Literally!  Some breeds, like Thoroughbreds and Arabians are known for a thinner skin.
  • An underlying injury.  Muscle soreness, a spine that is out of alignment, and even an estrus cycle can create very uncomfortable feelings in your horse.  Your Veterinarian can help you out if you suspect any of these issues.
  • That’s just your horse’s personality!
  • An obedience issue.  If you observe similar cranky behaviors when you are leading your horse or cleaning his stall or any other time you are not grooming him, it’s likely the result of a horse that needs a refresher course on manners.

So you have an idea of why, now we can tackle how to groom your cranky equine more comfortably.

  • Identify the “yes” spots and the “no” spots that your horse will tolerate.
    Work lightly on a “no” spot, then reward good behavior and work on a “yes” spot.  Work slowly and gently, reward often, and take breaks on those “no” spots.  This will help if there is an underlying behavior that needs modification.  Remember that if you make everything a non-issue, your horse can eventually learn to do the same. This is basically desensitization.
  • Use HandsOn Grooming Gloves so that both hands can be on your horse at the same time. This allows you to feel shifts in his body, alerting you to sensitive areas that might need more attention. You can also vary the pressure here, some horses need less, some need more. The HandsOn Gloves allow tactical feedback so you understand what your horse prefers.
  • Consider some new grooming tools.
    Loosely translated, go shopping!!  Or, use what you have around the house to modify what you already own.  Can you use a washcloth for part of your grooming routine? Consider making a switch from plastic bristles to natural bristles, or to a softer natural brush.
  • Alter how you use your tools.
    If your horse is acutely sensitive, move slower and with a softer touch.  For your brushes, lay them parallel to your horse before you sweep so that the pointy ends of the bristles don’t come into too much contact with your horse.

OR… consider using more pressure when you groom.  You might figure out that his protests are him trying to tell you to scratch and rub and curry harder.

  • Check again and again for proper tack fit.
    A horse with tender skin will likely also be sensitive to his tack.  Routine and regular saddle fittings are a must, as are soft and smooth saddle pads.  Try and avoid pads with too much piping, it can lead to rubs and irritations.
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