Tips on washing horse's face.

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  • christina3566 Original Poster
    Topics Started: 2Replies Posted: 2

    My horse HATES having her face washed, even if its just a wipe down with a damp cloth. She was handled very roughly earlier in her life, so I don’t want to scare her. I want to be able to hose her face down and wash with soap, so what do I do?

    pheets pheets
    Topics Started: 5Replies Posted: 477

    Try desensitizing her with a sponge, dry, starting under her jaw, not over her ears: the poll is the most protected part of a horse, maybe second only to their throats and foals. Might have to try a few different articles (soft brushes, small towels, different kinds of sponges, etc. ) to achieve her comfort. Patience until she will accept it, then damp, then be careful with soaps, don’t want to sting her eyes or burn sensitive skin. Also, try to keep damp as opposed to wet yet, running water over a horse’s face can simulate a bleeding issue in their minds and defense will be a quick response. Where she has been roughed in the past, even more patience. And cookies : )

    Sure there's right and wrong but mostly there's just a whole lotta different.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Pheets is totally correct. I would add that hosing a face is generally not necessary – mine likes to drink out of the hose, but would not ever tolerate being squirted with cold water on his head. If you have access, when you do reach adding water, make it warmish. Less of a shock. I also tell him I am going to wash his face – don’t know if he understands the words, but the babbling seems to relax him.

    It is never the horse's fault

    christina3566 Original Poster
    Topics Started: 2Replies Posted: 2

    Thanks! I tried that and she seems to be more relaxed now! 🙂

    Joan Fry
    Topics Started: 11Replies Posted: 324

    You got good advice. When I used to board my horses, I’d watch people hose their horses down, including squirting them in the face with the water going full blast. The horses clearly hated it, and I often wondered what the riders thought they were accomplishing. My horse was very head-shy when I got him because people had eared him in order to medicate him. So I went through all the steps pheets outlined. My horse will now consent to a damp sponge, even around his ears–and it only took me two months. Like Joe-Joe’s boy, he will even grab the nozzle of the hose and drink out of it. Patience is everything!

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 6

    Every time I groom I use baby wipes to clean the face, including wiping out noses and ears. Start with what they will tolerate and move slowly. Treats never hurt either (as a reward, not a bribe).

    When we’re doing a full body wash I’ll just use a wet wash cloth. Since they are now used to the baby wipe wipedown the washcloth is no big deal.

    The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears.

    Topics Started: 7Replies Posted: 29

    my horse use’t to hate her face washed, i started to warm her up to the water on her face by just offering her a drink from the hose, then after she was ok with the water by her mouth i would work it up to her nose and so on. Keep in mind that when horses get water in their ears they feel like they are drowning, even though my mare loves her face washed she keeps her ears back, but she puts her head down for me.

    Life is not about waiting for the clouds to pass, its about learning to ride in the rain

    Mapale Mapale
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 421

    Using a soft face brush regularly during grooming will get your mare used to having her face touched and it feels so good she’ll love it – it will feel more like affection than grooming. Both my horses love that face brush! That’s step one.

    Step two, give a treat to help her with anxiety as you step up the program to a soft damp (lukewarm) sponge – around the cheeks and chin – until she is comfortable with more thorough bathing.

    Step three, use soft stream hosing under throat latch which feels good to a hot horse, and gradually move up under the chin, give a drink, and only put water where she is comfortable, and as with the brush, expand the work area gradually guiding the water with your free hand.

    I don’t spray my horses’ heads EVER. That can cause ear aches if water gets down in them and causes fungi infestations, it’s not necessary, and it’s not healthy in humid climates where it is difficult to get ears dry. Use a cloth for sensitive areas, and use a soft stream of water on areas where you need to rinse, guiding the water with your hand. I also use a wet sponge when I need to rinse more thoroughly around eyes. This is less intimidating than flowing water.

    Patience, and as pheets says, cookies.

    Alois Podhajsky: “When I hear somebody talk about a horse being stupid, I figure it’s a sure sign that animal has outfoxed them. ...

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205


    My boy also likes to take his face sponge after I finish, shake it around and then toss it away. I suppose he thinks he is getting even. Got your book, and expect to enjoy it thoroughly! Went out of the way to find a new copy, to support my friends.

    It is never the horse's fault

    Joan Fry
    Topics Started: 11Replies Posted: 324

    Joe-Joe, you say the nicest things to me! And a new copy is indeed preferable to a used one–preferable to me-as-author. I only get royalties when people buy new books, so thank you for helping to support Scout’s EPM treatment! The friendship is mutual. I really enjoy some of the people I’ve met on this forum–everybody seems eager to share what they know. I’ve been on other forums where posters were allowed to rip other posters to shreds, and that’s not an environment that fosters learning or a free exchange of ideas. Thank you Joe-Joe, and thank you smartpak!

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    You are welcome! This forum is the most civil of any I have encountered, although the Chronicle of the Horse comes close. I knew about the royalty thing.

    It is never the horse's fault

    NinaJD NinaJD
    Topics Started: 8Replies Posted: 139

    I use buttwipes(non scented, alchol free) or a wet wash cloth.

    "Take the time it takes, so that it takes less time."
    "Expect a lot, accept a little, reward often."
    Pat Parelli

    horsesrule10 horsesrule10
    Topics Started: 2Replies Posted: 3

    show her that it won’t hurt her . be slow in the process of getting her use to it and if she freaks out back off , and let her calm down.
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    What I do when I wash a horse who is sensitive I hold the halter and distract them with a treat. Don’t necessarily jump right at her with a cloth or hose,try to help her see that you are helping her not hurting her. For example use treats and love, always tell her she is a good girl when she does something right. I hope this helps!

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