Call us 24/7 - 1-800-461-8898

Ask the Groom – Cold Weather Bathing


“For many horse owners, our bathing facilities are limited to cold running water or a bucket of heated water. Given these conditions, what is the best way to get a horse show-ring clean when the temperatures are still quite chilly? Thanks!” – Tammy P. via Facebook

Coming from England, limited washing facilities is what I grew up with. Getting a horse ready for hunting or an indoor winter jumping show was something that needed to be done on a regular basis.

Obviously when constant hot water and/ or heating lamps aren’t available full body washes are not an option in cold temperatures. Instead, I would begin the show-prep process by fully grooming your horse. Start with your favorite curry, using steady circular motion to bring dust to the surface. Next take a rag and spray witch hazel onto it, then again using a circular motion move over the horse’s body. I like this product because it is great at picking up dirt and dust without drying out the horse’s coat. Next take a body brush and damp rag, whilst brushing your horse, after every other stroke wipe the brush on the damp rag, this helps to clean the brush as you go. Finally, using a wool grooming mitt, add a touch of spray such as Cowboy Magic Super Body Shine. Wipe all over the horse. This final touch should bring out the shine to the coat without leaving any greasy residue.


Now onto washing tails and any white socks. This can be done by bucket washing, using your favorite shampoo for the tail, followed by a good conditioning detangler. There are many products on the market, but my personal choice is Canter Silk Mane & Tail Conditioner. It leaves the tail with a brilliant shine, detangled and the feel lasts for several days.

When washing white socks again you have many choices of color enhancing shampoos, Quic Silver probably the most well known. If you are having trouble getting rid of the yellow you can try the laundry detergent OxiClean color safe brightener. This has bleach alternative so is not too harsh on the skin. I have used it several days in a row and not had problems, however it can be so effective you don’t need to use too often. Once shampoo is rinsed out, towel dry legs well and then spray them down with a coat shine product such as Cowboy Magic Super Body Shine. This helps to repel dust and dirt when dry.


For Grays and paints, as an alternative spot cleaner, I mix Quic Silver with rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. This can act as an easy dry spot remover to get rid of any small stains. For those that like to get large dirt patches, you will have to spot clean with buckets of hot water and color enhancing shampoo.

The night before the show, I like to use neck sheets and I will wrap white legs so that less area is left to get dirty!!


The morning of the show, I would repeat the grooming process, final touches would include wiping out the inside of ears and nostrils with a damp rag. I would then apply a small amount of baby oil to the muzzle and eyes to help bring out the shine. I even like to rub a bit of baby oil into my hands and then run over the horses’ legs, and along the crest of a braided mane. Helps to pick up any remaining dust and leaves behind a nice shine. If you are still not happy with your white legs try to dampen the legs and then apply baby powder to the white areas, this can sometimes be enough to hide those troublesome yellowing areas. Finally apply hoof oil and off you go to the ring.

Happy winter showing!!

Emma Ford

Emma Ford is one of the most respected grooms in US Eventing. Born and raised in the UK, Emma came to the US in 1998 to groom for top eventer Adrienne Iorio. After seven years with Adrienne, Emma moved to True Prospect Farm to work with five-time Olympian and 13-time USEA Leading Rider of the Year, Phillip Dutton. During her tenure with Phillip, Emma cared for many famous equine athletes including Connaught, TruLuck, Woodburn, and Mystery Whisper. She’s groomed at Burghley, Blenheim and Boekelo, cared for horses at the 2006 and 2010 World Championships, 2007 Pan Am Games, and 2008 and 2012 Olympics, and groomed at Rolex Kentucky and Fair Hill International every year since 2001. And now she’s here to help you! Submit your grooming questions and Emma just may be able to teach you a few of her tricks!

Tagged with:
Posted in Ask The Groom

Recent Posts

One comment on “Ask the Groom – Cold Weather Bathing
  1. Constance says:


    Thank you so very, very much! The Universe placed two grays in my world and your article is now laminated and in the “How To” book in the tack room.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Share it:
You'll this

SmartCombo™ Senior Pellets

As Low As: $57.95
(267 reviews)
Healthy Horses  ❤  Happy Riders