Thoughts on winter outside bath? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 26 Old 11-02-2019, 10:35 AM
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I will hose my guys off after a ride on a hot day, and they _do_ like it, judging by their expressions, and the fact that they don't simply walk away. However I have never bathed them, as in soap and a scrubbie. They shower by standing out in the rain.
Kinda pointless to bathe them in any event, as the first thing they do is go have a satisfying roll in the "sandbox", or sometimes on a grassy spot.
In cool weather if they get sweaty, I just let 'em roll, and once they dry off I use a shedding rake to clean and fluff their coats for them. If it's cold; freezing or below, I will toss their winter turnouts on them until they dry out, and then use the shedding rake, etc.
They all have good-quality waterproof "Heavy-weight" turnouts. I have put these on 'em when their backs were covered with ice, and within a couple of hours they will be warm and dry under the blanket. They _love_ their blankies :-)
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post #12 of 26 Old 11-02-2019, 10:41 AM
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@its lbs not miles I think somewhere between then and now we have lost the ability to truly groom a horse to the extent that needs done depending on the circumstance. There has also been a bit of common sense lost. Horses wouldn't normally sweat themselves up in cold the wild and if they did they'd manage keeping warm as a herd. We take that away.



Horse sweat has a protein component that acts as a wetting agent that facilitates evaporative cooling. That protein is what causes the lathering where rub happens. In the cold on a domesticated horse that needs to be removed whether by a quick warm bath complete with toweling or the animal dried by being completely brushed out and coat fluffed. Either way you accomplish it depending on your circumstance it makes for a more comfortable animal. The sooner you accomplish that the faster the horse can warm itself up through its own natural means.
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post #13 of 26 Old 11-02-2019, 10:56 AM
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Aside from my time working at the race track (those horses got baths after every workout - regardless of season), I have never bathed my horses in the winter.

I do not have a barn and the hoses would be frozen so it would be near impossible even if I wanted to.

Even in summer my horses don't really get 'baths'. After a long ride if they are sweaty or covered in mud I will sponge them down but that's about it. Besides, their favorite thing to do is roll in dirt, so if the goal is to get them clean then bathing won't work :) They get a really good brushing after they are dried and they will look pretty good after.

When I take riding lessons in winter and my horse gets a bit sweaty, I just make sure she gets a really good 'cool out'. Then she wears a fleece cooler for the trailer ride home. In most cases, by the time we get home she is pretty much dry underneath. If it is a particularly cold night I might throw her winter blanket on her. (I always take the cooler off though - it is often damp from whisking way the moisture from her body). Nice dry blankets = warmer horse.
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post #14 of 26 Old 11-02-2019, 11:00 AM
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I'm going to caveat what I'm about to say. If you live in a part of the world that horses cannot exist in nature (that would be the very, very northern area of Canada, Alaska, Russia, etc.... and Antarctica) and you have a horse you can ignore part of what I'm saying, but keep the rest in mind because it applies no matter where you keep a horse.

Rugging or blanketing a horse is something dreamed by humans that was not a good thing when they came up with it and, like the European practices of bad diet and shoeing, did not suddenly become a good idea just because they did it for a long time.

Only humans would have the arrogance and unmitigated gall to think that we know what's best. After all, we've been dealing with horses (for something other than a menu item) for over 5,000 years unlike Mother Nature who's only been evolving and taking care of them for only.....10,000,000 years. Clearly humans have the upper hand over nature in knowing what's best.

First. How nature designed the horse and why it survived successfully over so much of the world and why humans were able to use keep horses in about 80 of the areas on earth that we inhabited (LONG before someone came up with the idea of wrapping them up for cold weather). Unless people interfere (keep that in mind) the horse is quite capable of warming up or cooling down all on it's own. Nature designed the horse to be able to increase and decrease warmth of it's coat. The horse can control almost every hair on it's body. Ever notice how horses that have been lucky enough to not be covered by a rug on a cold day will often look like shaggy or wooly? Or how some horses will look more shaggy, as if they have more hair, then other horses in the same field on the same cold day? It's not because one has more hair or is just a woolier horse. It's because one felt colder than the other. Horses push out their hair to catch and hold air, which is warmed by their body heat, which forms an insulated layer to hold heat in. The more they push out their hair they thicker that layer of insulation. To cool it down a bit they just lower their hair a bit. Just like we could put on a heavy shirt over a light one, and then a sweater, a jacket, a heavy coat to keep warmer or take some of it off if we got too warm to avoid sweating in the cold. If the horse can't get warm enough using just this method they will use physical activity to generate more body heat too. And if they are on a proper equine diet (i.e. a lot of long fiber.... hay, grass, beet pulp, etc....) they will generate extra heat just from digesting all that fiber (remember that contrary to what humans think is best to feed them, nature designed equines to live on large amounts of low quality food (for a variety of reasons....nature doesn't do things for nothing). So horses are able to manage for themselves if provided what nature would provide and left to deal with it, unless we stick our noses in and mess with the horse is naturally able to do for itself.

Second. We a horse is rugged it is incapable of regulating it's own comfort level. It cannot move it's body hair up or down. It is stuck with whatever some caring human has determined it needs (even if it's too much or too little). Let me put it in perspective. Your hand is in a fist and it glue all the fingers in that position then cover your hands with large mittens (now you are like a horse and unable to remove whatever I put on you). Also you tongue and teeth have been removed and your larynx has been damaged so that you can't articulate anything even remotely resembling a word or an intelligible thought. i.e. you've become like a two legged horse LOL.
Now "I" think it's cold and I was brought up with the understanding that if it's cold "you" (and those like you) need to be covered when it's cold. Of course, not all of those like you have the same physical handicap I've placed on you....(i.e. they can put on or take off layers of garments to keep warm or cool down). But you are my responsibility and I'm care about your wellbeing so I'm going to make sure to do what all the "experts" have told me to do for you when the weather gets cold. Now I could always just free up your hands and allow you to dress yourself as needed since you will know how cold you do or don't feel (far better than I will know how you feel), but that's not how it's going to be, because I know what I'm suppose to do and I'm going to do it. "I" will determine what you need, "I" will give you what you need, and "YOU" will just have to deal with it regardless. If you get too cold in what I've covered you with you can run around some (hopefully I've given you room for that), but it you're too warm...tough...try to avoid sweating, it will cool you down, but then you'll really be cold. Does anyone really think that this is a good situation for a horse? Unable to do for themselves what nature has designed them to do?

Finally, there is a price that's paid for our interference. If you rug a horse enough they can (and do) lose the ability to regulate themselves (i.e. they're not able to push their hair out enough to create the thermal layers that keep them warm, because the blanket stopped them whenever they might have tried so it shuts down). Now usually this temporary and not permanent. In a matter of weeks or months it should return (I'm unaware of it ever being permanent, but I suppose it might be possible to destroy their ability forever....imagine spending your life with me dressing you for cold weather based on what "I" thought and you have to just live with too much or too little, but you cannot do anything about how I dress you for the weather).. Now that would really suck wouldn't it.

So keep this in mind when you're out there doing "what's best" for your horses. Is it REALLY what's best for them or just what you and a lot of other misguided people have be lead to believe is best? Like feeding your horse grain (oats in particular). Humans have perfected the system of killing our non food animals with kindness. Makes us feel better as we shorten their lives, because we are certain that "we" know best. After all (as I said before) we humans have been dealing with horses (other than as something we hunted for food) for over 5,000 years while Mother Natures development of their survivability has only lasted for 10 million years. Clearly we our ideas are better would have worked better than Mother Natures (did you see on those cave paintings how ancient, prehistoric man but rugs on those horses when the weather got cold. Don't you see all the reindeer herders blanketing those poor freezing reindeer to keep them from all freezing to death. Rabbits, deer, etc.. in the colder regions (MN, WI, MT, VT, ME, ND, IA, WY, SD, NY, etc...and of course all of Canada) must all be migrating south starting on Labor Day since they don't have some kind human to capture them, rug them, and then release them. Mother Nature knew and knows what it's doing. We should probably stop and take a lesson on that while learning a bit more about or our horses then what some erroneous European traditions tell us. Ever hear about how the Mongols (one of histories greatest horse societies) conquered Russia during Winter (the only time it's ever been done....and the Mongols did it in Winter on purpose, because the marshes, swamps, lakes were frozen so they could just be ridden over). Did you read about the logistical nightmare it was to keep all those Mongolian horses rugged during a Russian Winter LMAO

They're always going to be bigger and stronger so you better always be smarter. (One of my grandfather's many pearls of wisdom)
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post #15 of 26 Old 11-02-2019, 01:38 PM
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Sorry @its_lbs... but some horses need blanketing. Older horses, horses that have arthritis, respiratory issues, or for any other reason, are not in perfect health. I have three horses and while two of them are almost never blanketed, our 20 yr old arab with all the issues above does get blanketed, and generously so. I tried not blanketing for a winter. He developed heaves. He lives outside 24/7, but with a blanket on, he thrives. Without it, he suffers. I have seen him shiver while the other two are happily standing in a blizzard.

Horses in the wild are capable of staying warm if they have enough food. Our horses are not wild. I have no doubt that my senior Arab would be dead if he had to survive in the wild -- call me arrogant and selfish, but I'd rather keep him alive a while longer since he is my daughter's best friend. Horses are living longer than ever as we know more about keeping them healthy.

There is nothing wrong with blanketing when necessary and appropriate. It does bug me when I see horses blanketed on a warm day because someone left it on that morning and then went to work all day. I take blankets off as soon as the sun warms the air enough. But it's not true that horses don't need blankets. If it makes them more comfortable and healthy, why would we deprive them of blankets?

One universal truth I have learned about horses is that there are no universal truths. You might think no horse needs a blanket until the day you meet the one who does.
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post #16 of 26 Old 11-02-2019, 01:43 PM
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Oh, and as for bathing (sorry @Kalraii , I got side-tracked), I don't do it in the colder months, only on a hot summer day, and usually only pre-show. We rarely get our horses really sweaty on a cold day, but if we do, we walk them out until most of the sweat has dried. Yes, that might take a while, but it's better for their muscles too. I might spot-wash if I had a particular reason to want a horse somewhat clean, but otherwise, no baths in winter here. I did buy some dry shampoo, but haven't really used it, so I can't say if it's effective. I think that if you let the sweat dry and brush it off, they should be ok. If I had to bathe, I would certainly cover with a fleece and maybe a heavier blanket, then remove the fleece once most of the moisture has been wicked away. I'd want to stick around until the horse is completely dry to make sure they don't get cold.
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post #17 of 26 Old 11-02-2019, 02:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by its lbs not miles View Post
Rugging or blanketing a horse is something dreamed by humans that was not a good thing when they came up with it and, like the European practices of bad diet and shoeing, did not suddenly become a good idea just because they did it for a long time.
Yea; I've heard this story before, and while I agree in general that horses can survive w/o extra protection in bitter weather, I see no reason why _domestic_ horses should have to. Furthermore, domestic Equines do not generally have the option of locating optimal shelter from bad weather, and often do not have access to a herd to cuddle with.
Many owners stable their animals during bad weather, but I have found that mine prefer to be outside; about the only time they come into their stalls voluntarily is to be fed, or to get away from bugs in the summer.
Mine have worn blankets during harsh weather conditions for all of the 10 years I have owned them ; particularly where a streak of balmy weather is followed by heavy precipitation (rain, turning to slush, turning to snow; fairly common around here), and rapidly falling temperatures. The turnouts keep their core being dry and warm, and they _like_ that. They appear to like their blankets and wait expectantly for them to be installed; I never have to restrain them to blanket them.
I do not blanket for cold alone (unless it is very very cold and windy), and the turnouts come off when the sun comes back after a storm.
I also keep them in fly sheets during the buggy seasons. Necessary? Of course not, but it keeps them more comfortable, and again, they never argue about getting them. In fact, they will often indicate that they want protection from the bugs, and will pester me until I get their fly sheets out.
In short, they are my pets, and are treated as such. If you don't want to clothe your Equines, then by all means do not, but don't be in a hurry to "correct" those of us who do. They ain't _wild_ animals any more.

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post #18 of 26 Old 11-02-2019, 03:30 PM
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If her getting sweaty is a concern, why not clip?
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post #19 of 26 Old 11-02-2019, 10:49 PM Thread Starter
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The reason I wanna be able to wash her back @Acadianartist @ApuetsoT (will blanket clip if needed!) and others is coz she got ringworm exactly where her saddle pad is. The staff I realised were sharing pads between horses (after other horses came down with it in the same spot). I just knew that Katie wasn't patient zero! Fortunately I am now keeping all tack (with pads attached) in my storage bin so they will have no choice but to use mine. It's not uncommon for her or other horses to have bit, bridle and saddle sweat marks in a perfect outline either. Just trying to avoid the fungal funnies!

@its lbs not miles I appreciate the write up. I know where you are coming from and that you disapprove of people molly coddling their pets. Forgive me if I am misunderstanding but your post implies to me that you consider ourselves (humans) to be above and separate from Mother Nature and that horses aren't intelligent enough to communicate their preferences. Never mind preferences, you can observe the behaviour and health of the horse to know if your actions are having detriment. Has geriatric Betty with no teeth begun putting on weight since you started rugging her? What's more important her putting on weight or growing a couple more hairs? Well Betty is never gonna go live out in the wild and will be rugged/regulated by me until she passes over the rainbow so what does it matter? But in reality how often does that occur? This isn't like rehabbing animals to return to the wild. Where possible we want to mimic nature, of course we do. But horses are big and expensive and there are so many parameters to work with. I hope you don't mind me asking but are your horses also cared for by Mother Nature? No dental care, no farrier, no vaccinations, no vet treatment and no humane euthanasia? It's an interesting topic because aren't we, Humans, just a slave to Mother Nature too? Aren't we doing exactly as we are designed?

Ethically, however, rugging IS a problem. I agree. A lot of owners rug inappropriately. How many times have we also seen kids run about not dressed appropriately for the weather? A responsible owner will develop a relationship and the ability to communicate with their horse. At some point you really should know what does and doesn't work. You must have a baseline. But that requires the owner to actually do observation. Stick a hand down their rug. Are they sweaty or broken out in heat rash? Are they still shivering or have begun losing weight? A responsible owner will regularly check these things, soemtimes several times a day. In fact I drove 40mins last night in a minor storm, with lightening and fireworks and a trek up a muddy hill to make sure my short-haired, unrugged mare was alive and un-electrocuted. She was toasty in her birthday suit and turns out I was just worrying. But I only know that because I checked. Responsible Ruggers wont need to worry about winter coat because they are already consistently on-top of their horses welfare. But then you get the Irresponsible Ruggers who will let their horses bake, rug them up during winter and turn them out naked because it got ripped and they can't be bothered to replace it. Those horses suffer. Horses living naked will either do OK or be taken care of by Mother Nature both ways, as you desire ;)
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post #20 of 26 Old 11-03-2019, 08:35 AM
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Gotcha @Kalraii . I can totally understand why you'd want to keep her back clean. Sponging it would be the best solution then, imho. I don't think she'll suffer from just getting a small part of her body wet, and you want some anti-bacterial, anti-fungal stuff in there. You can probably sprinkle some anti-everything powder on her back sometimes too. The product I use on my horses' hooves on occasion, called No Thrush, can be used for that purpose to treat all kinds of things. Not sure if you have that product on your side of the pond. Even pure zinc oxide powder has benefits and is cheap in bulk (I buy cosmetic grade to use as sunscreen on pink noses): https://www.alyaka.com/magazine/ulti...de-zinc-oxide/ -- sorry, not the best website, but I'm sure there is more info out there for horses. It has drying action as well. So on really, really cold days, you could just sprinkle some in, brush it to push it in deeper, and Katie should be good.

Today I may have to get out the heated water buckets. Because Mother Nature did not take into account the fact that we would be keeping horses in a fenced-in area where there is no large body of water to which they can travel, and where they could hopefully, maybe, break the ice with their untrimmed hooves so they could drink. Nope. They need me to provide them with water that isn't frozen solid. I guess I've just spoiled them rotten.
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