Help! Tips for the horse's first bath? Good training techniques?


Live 2 Ride- Ride 2 Live
Dec 23, 2004
California, U.S.
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I've always done all of my training using methods from trainers like parelli and clinton anderson but for the first time I'm really stuck. I have a 3 yr old BLM mustang that I started at the beginning of the summer and she's smart and usually pretty mellow/accepting(her first ride was in a bareback pad and she didnt even buck or freak) but she's scared silly of the hose! I've tried clinton's method: let the horse run around you in circles and keep the hose on until they settle, then take the pressure off by taking the hose off. But that won't work because my 2 options of footing are dirt(which will get way too muddy) and concrete(which isnt safe for a horse to run circles on, especially wet). Plus she can run circles a LONG time REALLY fast and the hose gets so twisted and tangled that water wont even come out! So what do I do????


New Member
Dec 30, 2005
northern Nevada

I have a 3 yr old who got his first bath this summer. I tied him to my friends bathing area (on a secure, metal hitching post). When the water first hit his legs he started rearing up. So, I backed off. But my friend (experienced horse person) simply took the hose and started spraying, first at the legs, then the body. Eventually, my horse just settled down and "got over it." If you do this, use a rope halter and secure your rope to the halter with a knot rather than a snap that can break if the horse pulls back. My horse has stood calmly for every bath since then.

Another thing is sometimes if you are using cold water, they are sensitive to it, especially on their back. Warm water will make the experience easier, especially at first.

I'm curious to hear what others do or have done....


Live 2 Ride- Ride 2 Live
Dec 23, 2004
California, U.S.
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That's the kind of thing that might work with SOME horses, but could be really dangerous with others. I mean, can you imagine what will happen if a horse is tied so that nothing will break and release, and the horse won't stop panicking? Sounds like a pretty easy way to seriously injure/tramatize your horse- a lot of horses will just keep panicking and hurt themselves if they can't find an escape. I've seen horses suddenly panic when tied and end up flipping themselves over. Sorry I hope that didn't sound like I was lecturing you or something! Anyway I'd like to do it a way w/o really scaring her or breaking the trust we've been working on(and trust me, the hose REALLY scares her)


New Member
Dec 24, 2005
why dont you try crossties. thats how jawhara first took a shower.

levigal, everyone is always saying that about halters, but why would u want it to break if the horse pulls back? he can escape and do more damage!


Well-Known Member
Dec 20, 2004
Suffolk, UK
I think the thing is to not progress too quickly.

Jess was 2 last year when she had her 1st bath, she wasn't keen on the hose pipe but I started by just holding her, I let her walk round a bit while the hose was aimed at her feet (in a kind of no fusss, it just is way), without removing it I asked her to whoa, which she did.

After a minute of praise (with the hose still on her feet) I moved the water up onto her fetlock and again she started walking round (I kept a tight lead so she couldn't get speed up as I was working on concrete) again I let her do it until I felt I could redirect her attention, I asked her to whoa, she did.

This went on in 6 inch intervals until I got to her elbow, where I quit for that session. Next time I was able to progress much quicker and did her shoulder too. Next time I did her neck, then back and so on until I could go over her whole body. I always start any bath at the feet and work up, like dipping your toe in the sea before you jump in :D

I was very careful to try and make sure the days I tried the initial lessons were very hot days and I would walk her out first so she was really warm, in the hopes that she would 'appriciate' the cool bath, I think it helped :D

Now she will stand like a rock for a bath, ears to tail with no fussing :D

J x


New Member
May 26, 2006
let the horse run around you in circles and keep the hose on until they settle, then take the pressure off by taking the hose off.

The logic of this seems bizarre, if it's supposed to work on negative reinforcement: you're rewarding the horse for standing still by removing the thing you want them to tolerate!

I would certainly go for a more positive reinforcement approach like Jessey suggests, with lots of praise for incremental improvements.


New Member
Sep 14, 2005
Ontario, Canada
I don't understand the rational of insisting/persisting on using the hose if the horse isn't settling. (There are other ways to bathe a horse.) I know for some horses it works but for others, they take more time to adjust to it. It depends on the horse & how you decide to persue the matter.

Yes make sure you're using warm water (imagine if someone started hosing you down? Warm water please:D ), if it's comfortable on your wrist should be ok for the horse, you can then gradually make it luckewarm. And as you know, start with the legs, then the shoulder, then the back.

There is a plastic curry that can attach to then end of a hose. You may want to give that a try.

If your horse is still concerned about the hose then just get a bucket, a sponge or grooming mitt and wash her that way.

Do a little bit at a time, you're going to have her for a long time, so if you behave like you have all that time, some horse realize that & actually give up the fight pretty quickly. But don't go at it for hours on end because you may overload her. She 3 so probably still have the attention span of a gnat.

Good luck

Sexy Sietske

New Member
Aug 18, 2006
LMS...i agree!! If she isn't keen on the hose and you despreately need to bathe her just use a spong and bucket for now.

Try desensatize her will the hose pipe. Get a small piece of hose at first and rub is all over you horse. Then when comfortable with that use the actual hose used to bath and rub the horse all over with that until she is comfortable with that then use the hose tickling water ad just build up the amount of water that comes out of the hose gradualy until she comfortable with being hosed. Takes along time but its worth it eventually!!:p


Levi in field
Feb 27, 2006
I use the brushes you get for cars on the end of the hose pipe, horses never seem to mind getting wet if it isn't a stream of water. All mine got there first bath with this and never seemed to notice the water even around top of neck and in between legs. After a while then they are so used to pipe then the really don't care.


New Member
Oct 16, 2004
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lukewarm water, bucket, sponge. Really dilute the shampoo so copious rinsing isn't necessary and go gently. I did similar to Jessey when B was new, little bit at a time with no hassling and on warm sunny days - she's good as gold now.
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