Sunday, July 30, 2017

Should I Shampoo My Horses?

For those who follow my blog, you know by now that I am what you call a minimalist.  Why?  Because I can be.  I don't show. I don't compete.  I ride the trails.  My horses train mostly at home, with me, so they're rarely exposed to large groups of new horses.  I try to keep down their stress levels which, I believe, is the #1 contributor to illness and injury.  I've examined every area of care and stripped it down to the essentials--smart worming cycles, rotation of pastures, the best farrier care, smart immunization cycle (not overdoing it), the best hay, and constant exposure to a stable, safe herd.  I want my horses to have fun and take pride in what they do at all times.

However, there was one area I hadn't really thought through, but I did today as I was giving Beautiful Girl her bath, and that is washing my horses with shampoo.

You see, at the start, as I was showering her back and hind end with water, it was beading wonderfully over her top line, keeping her from getting saturated.  As a recent Curly Girl minimalist convert, I've been thinking a lot about hair and the natural oils on our scalp, and I knew to recognize a good thing when I saw it.  Still, it didn't stop me from lathering her up with shampoo and washing all those great oils off.  By the time I was done, she was squeaky clean, smelling of roses, and entirely ready to go roll in the dirt again.

Since leaving the barn, I've been researching and thinking about it, and I've come to realize, I may skip the shampoo in the future.  I could have accomplished everything I wanted with water alone and a little scrubbing.  I mean, I don't think it's going to hurt her, but maybe there are protective qualities to those oils.

Horses in the wild do just fine with out shampoo.


My family came across what appeared to be a herd of wild horses last week at Lake Roosevelt and my sister took these pictures.  They were getting a reprieve from the hot temps in the cool of the water.  There's no doubt, horses like water and appreciate a cool soak--but water isn't as harsh as the chemicals in shampoo and, I imagine, it mostly leaves those oils in tact.



What are your thoughts on shampooing horses?


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15 comments:

  1. I'll rinse off sweat with plain water, or hose down a horse on a hot day. I do use shampoo, but very rarely. My horses get a shampoo bath at most once or twice a year, and even then I try to use something easy on the skin like Eqyss Microtek herbal shampoo.

    I like the horses to have the most natural oils on their skin as possible - it keeps their skin and hair healthy, and people often ask me why my horses are so shiny!

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    1. I'll look into that shampoo. If their coats are shiney, you're doing it right! I think natural oils are important to all of us hairy mammals.

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  2. I hose after every ride. I do shampoo before a show to have her look her best. I also bathe them both in the spring to get off the ground in scurf and dirt.

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    1. You're in a different category with the showing. It wouldn't be right to show up with a dirty horse. Lol. Sounds like you still try to keep it to a minimum though.

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  3. When I was showing, I would shampoo. Now, I rarely bathe the horses at all. I will wash the hind legs of Lucy (icky mare stuff) and Jackson who has a sensitive tummy -- so when we get a new batch of hay he sometimes has pretty gross back legs for a day or two. But, in general, I think they benefit from the oils. And in the summer, I think the combo of oil and dust aids in keeping the flies from biting. I guess I'm a minimalist too.

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    1. I think you are officially a minimalist! Much less stress. Yes, I do the same with the mares and those with special issues. I don't usually pull out shampoo either, but I did with the pony and I did with BG. They had gotten particularly dirty. In retrospect, water would have worked as well for what I wanted to accomplish. BG is like pigpen in Snoopy.

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  4. I don't bathe unless it's medically necessary. I might hose them down if they get overly sweaty, but that's about it. I bathed Tonka a few times and it made him dull and rough. I think they coat themselves in dust for a reason. Fly or sun protection? I clean the dust off with a series of brushes before I ride so they don't get abraded by it.

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    1. Sounds much like me. I'm glad I asked this question and learned so much from you all. I was feeling guilty for not shampooing them more often. Then, when I did, I noticed that bearing on BG's top line and thought that it was probably a really good thing. Then, I ruined it. :(

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  5. I only rinse sweaty areas with water, during warm months. Cierra does get baths when showing with herbal shampoo.

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    1. Yes, I'm not sure what else you could do if you're showing, but gentle shampoos seem to be important. Curly girls co wash. That means wash with conditioner only. They also call that NoPoo. No shampoo. My hair is coarse like a horse so it may work the same for horses.

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  6. We generally hose them off when they're sweaty. And the only time they get shampooed is in the Spring when they're done shedding and to get all the winter gunk off and in the late Fall before the winter. There might be times when just the back legs get a little mild shampoo if needed but we really like to keep them natural and let their oils and brushing keep them clean and shiny.

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    1. On the track, we bathed our pacers one a week & hosed them every day.
      Here on the farm, I give scrubs with plain water when needed & hosing is more about comfort than cleanliness.
      When we have a good rain the horses prefer to stand out in it rather than come into their stalls (unless there is thunder or lightning).
      Funny though how they never feel the immediate need to roll in something dirty directly after a rain soaks them to the skin...

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  8. No shampoo here except for tails. I used to but for the last few years I haven't bothered to use anything except water. Rosalee loves to get sprayed down on hot days when I'm filling the water tubs, and I hose her down after riding when she is sweaty. Belle hates getting hosed down!

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Please feel welcome to join our discussion--tell us about your own thoughts and experiences.