The purposes of a medicated bath include removing dirt, sebum, crust, scale, and
microorganisms. To do this the medicated solution must come in contact with
the skin. Although basic bathing techniques are employed, there are special
guidelines to follow when medicating.
all of the bathing products and accessories: medicated shampoos, dilution bottle,
sprayer for hose, hose brushes, curry tool, rubber mitt, sponge, bucket, step
stool, sweat scraper or squeegee. You might also want to add a pair of rubber
gloves to the bathing kit if you have been advised to use gloves by your veterinarian
or if you have sensitive skin.
horse thoroughly. When treating a horse with a thick or long coat this will
take time. Using a sprayer will also remove surface dust, dirt and loose
hair. Wet hair and skin will more readily combine with the active ingredients
in the shampoo so the medication can get down where it is needed - on the skin.
Most shampoos work more effectively with warm water than cold and this is especially
true of certain medicated ingredients.
Follow the manufacturer's directions for the amount to use and the manner of application.
Some products are to be applied full strength on the horse although we generally
feel dilution is the best way of distribution. If 2 oz. is recommended,
don't think that 4 oz. will clear up the problem twice as fast or that you can
"leave a little on" to keep working. The more shampoo you use,
the harder it will be to rinse out completely and the more likely it will cause
itching or dry skin. Dilute the recommended amount with water in a recycled
If you're treating scratches
or cannon scald or keratosis, begin applying the medicated shampoo at the knee
or hock. Press the knee backward or the point of the hock forward to lock
the horse's leg in a "stand" position as you scrub the medicated shampoo
all the way down the leg and into the fetlock region. Often the skin of
affected horses is understandable sensitive, so use safe bathing practices.
If you are giving an overall medicated bath, work the medicated shampoo in with
a curry tool. For routine baths, you can use a Sarvis-style curry (pictured
here) that reaches down to the skin. However, if there are breaks in the
skin or the horse's skin is tender, use a soft curry with thick rubber fingers.
When treating the mane, work your way down
inch by inch. Scrub small sections at a time, getting down to the crest
by separating the hairs. Add a small amount of water to increase suds but
not so much that the suds run down the neck. You want the medicated suds
to lay on the crest.
Especially if a horse
has been rubbing his tail or hindquarters, take time to separate the tail hairs
on the top of the dock as you wet and scrub.
Wash the underside of the dock paying special attention to the skin that comes
in contact with the anus and vagina. Be sure that the shampoo you are using
is safe to use on the genital areas because even if you are not specifically bathing
the genitals, the shampoo will come in contact with them.
If the horse was particularly dirty, you might need to rinse and then repeat the
shampooing. When you feel the horse is clean, lather him well and then let
him stand with the shampoo "working" for 5-30 minutes depending on your
veterinarian's or the manufacturer's instructions. The horse can stand cross-tied
in the wash rack or if it is still, sunny day, you can let the horse stand outside.
Use a cooler if the temperature is under 60 F or if other conditions make a chill
a possibility. This cooler should be of a material that can be quickly and
easily laundered and dried (save your wool cooler for other uses) as you will
want to wash the cooler after each use. Do not use this cooler on another
Begin rinsing, starting on the high
points such as the mane. Rinse until the hair comes out "squeaky clean".
If there is the slightest slippery feel, continue rinsing. Scrub as you
rinse to activate any hidden suds.
rinsing the body, after the sheets of suds have subsided, you can use a hose brush
to curry and rinse at the same time. Make sure you have not left any medicated
Often a horse will START
a tail rubbing habit because of an inadequately rinsed tail. So don't spare
the water here. Be sure the water is a comfortable body temperature when
rinsing the tail or you could get kicked or stepped on. A horse often tucks
his tail and squats in a reflex reaction to his tail being wetted. When
rinsing, start from the top, then separate the hairs, rinse the sides and underside.
Use a sweat scraper or squeegee to remove
the majority of the water from the horse's coat. If, in the process, you
scare up a few bubbles, this means you have not done a thorough job of rinsing.
Give the coat the squeaky clean test by
running your hand down the horse's wet coat. If the feel is filmy or slippery,
Using a different cooler than
the one you used in the middle of the bath, cover the horse until he dries.
Do not use this cooler on other horses. This cooler should also be washed
between medicated baths to minimize recurrence of the problem.