Bathing to clip in the winter

How does everyone do this? We don’t have hot water at the barn, just somewhat lukewarm water and a heat lamp. I need to clip and need to have a clean horse to do so. Any good strategies/recommendations? Should I bring a teakettle and mix with the barn water for warmer water? It’s usually around 35-45 degrees here. Thanks!

Curry and brush or vacuum the horse then exercise it until it’s warm and put on loads of blankets (I put a cooler on covered by stable blankets) so it’s almost starting to get sweaty :grimacing:

Meanwhile get a bucket heater and a few 5g buckets and as many electric kettles as you can. When the first bucket is hot, put the heater in the second and start boiling kettles.

Get a bucket with a little cold water and shampoo in it, add hot water til it’s warm. Do the same with a clean sponge and clean water in another bucket.

Uncover the front or back half of your horse only, sponge on shampoo and scrub, then rinse with the clean water. Scrape, towel then show sheen that 1/2 of the horse. Cover with all the blankets. Uncover the other half of the horse and repeat. Put horse in stall to dry unless your heat lamps will do the trick.

It’s all about preparation and speed!


Bring an electric kettle. Curry vigorously. Hot towel the horse. Spray liberally with Show Sheen. Use new blades. It’ll be fine.


Buy a bucket heater (they are usually $30-40 and very handy if you need hot water in winter). Use it to heat up several buckets of water in advance.


I groom thoroughly then spray with rubbing alcohol on sections and scrub with clean towel. It really takes the grease and dirt off and dries quickly! Follow with a bit of show sheen or equivalent and brush with a clean dandy brush. My local feed store sells the rubbing alcohol cheaply in a gallon jug.

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It won’t help you right this day, but I think this would be pretty good to have in your situation, plus above comments about rubbing alcohol, warm towels, and a good thick cooler to wick the rest of the water away.

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I rarely bathe my horse before clipping. I just brush my horse and clean out the blades every few minutes. If the horse is really dirty, you could shop-vac the horse first (a trick my vet taught me!). I’m clipping a woolly mammoth this way and have never had problems.

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I would probably wash the horse one small section at a time and cover with a blanket. Or wait until the weather warms up a bit.

Brush well then put a sheet on. I find a sheet will gently rub all the dirt off under the blanket in a few days.