The average horse doesn’t generally need a bath but those performing at Red Hills may get more than one during their stay. A designated area for bathing is located inside the high fence surrounding the stables and it provides the basic needs of a horse shower: posts for tying up and running water. Competitors and grooms bring the rest of the ingredients and any equipment they need.
Horses like routine and, while every horse and its human attendant have a different one when it comes to bathing, it generally begins with a good brush or vacuum to remove as much dirt and dust as possible, followed by a mild horse shampoo that is applied to the wet horse. To wet a horse, most washers will begin at the bottom and work up to the back and neck. Squirting a horse in the ears or the face will usually result in an upset horse so most washers will use a wet sponge on these tender spots.
After a thorough rinsing, a sweat scraper may be used, with or without a towel drying massage to complete the bathing and drying process. A blanket or fly sheet may be worn at night to help keep the horse clean until morning.
On Saturday, when Cross Country is performed, horses benefit from a quick cool down after the strenuous performance and a special bathing area is set up at the end of the course. Here, a sweaty equine quickly loses the saddle, saddle pad and other tack, and gets a sponge bath to kick off the cool down. This bath has a different purpose than the shampoo bath and is performed for the health of the horse.
photo by Shems Hamilton