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The Banes of Bathing Horses

The Banes of Bathing Horses

Learn how to avoid horse skin and coating problems that often result from foaming and rinsing.

Veterinarians often examine whether we help horses with foaming and rinsing.

If your gray comes in as a bay from pasture or if your horse is full of sweat and dust after a summer ride, you will reach the hose and scoop. But does your bathing ritual give it a bottom-up glow or does it peel off the skin of natural oils and destroy healthy populations of microorganisms that help fight infection?

“It’s amazing that some horses are washed frequently – in some cases up to three times a day, and then they’re just left damp on their stalls, Dipl says DiplM, Lori Bidwell. ACVAA is partner and founder of Kentucky-based East West Equine Sports Medicine. Bidwell worked with thousands of performance horses and saw them all when it came to skin issues.

In this article, we will learn about the horse ‘s largest organ system: how it looks, what functions it performs, and how daily priming and finishing can damage this vital structure.

The Banes of Bathing Horses
The Banes of Bathing Horses

Skin Deep of Horse

You are probably familiar with the different degrees of combustion maintained by fire victims. What you don’t realize is that these degrees refer to the skin layer that the burn reaches.


Layer 1: Epidermis

The outermost layer produces and contains special skin cells called keratinocytes. They migrate up the base of the epidermis, replacing the ever-shedding skin cells – just as our nails grow constantly near the cuticle and the horse’s toe grows from the coronary band. Other cells in the epidermis include pigment-producing melanocytes that give color to the skin and hair, and Langerhans cells, which play an important role in the skin’s immune system, helping fight infection.

Although hairs pass through the epidermis, follicles are actually called the dermis. However, hairs help protect the skin from ultraviolet light and physical damage (slight wear, insects, light chemicals) and facilitate thermoregulation; Cooling and warming by changing their positions according to the skin.

Layer 2: Dermis

This layer, which forms the majority of the organ, contains various structures including blood vessels, nerves and “skin appendages.. Its main function is to feed the epidermis. The blood vessels provide nutrients and help regulate the body temperature of the horse. Specifically, increased blood flow to the vessels in the dermis helps to dissipate heat during exercise, while blood vessel constriction reduces blood flow to reduce heat loss on the skin. The nerve supply in the skin is impressive and allows horses to react quickly to heat, cold, pain and subtle pressure and touches. Our nerve supply is similar; Think of your reaction immediately after you have stepped out of the oven and touched a meal or put your finger on a piece of mail.

The hair follicles, one of the most important skin patches, produce individual hairs. Auxiliary inserts contain sebaceous glands that produce an oily substance called sebum. Sebum protects the skin by keeping it soft, moist and supple. It also has antimicrobial properties.

The sweat glands found primarily on the abdomen and thorax (and not the limbs) also help to control the body temperature of the horse. As sweat evaporates, the body cools.

Layer 3: Hypodermis

The third and last layer below the dermis contains fat, muscle (eg twitch muscles that deter insects from landing), blood vessels and nerves.



The Banes of Bathing Horses
The Banes of Bathing Horses

Surface Life

Now, we know this outer layer – the collection of dead skin cells that are covered with sebum and perforated with hair follicles – the preservative, the thermoregulator and the fight against infection. The population of microscopic organisms on the surface of the skin gives a helping hand.

Just as the intestines are filled with millions of germs that keep the horse healthy, the skin contains “normal” bacteria, viruses and fungi (including yeast) found in the epidermis. These microbes, called the skin microbiome, fill the skin’s surface during and immediately after birth. For the rest of their lives, they’re on horses. Simultaneously – both microbes and organisms that are mutually beneficial or living in a host – help prevent pathogenic organisms from colonizing the skin. Dozens of bacterial species live on the skin, including Staphylococcus spp (even S. aureus from MRSA infamy) and Streptococcus spp. More than 30 fungal species, including Aspergillus, Candida and Malassezia, live with bacteria. Interestingly, some species of bacteria and fungi prefer certain areas of the skin; Some species continue to live in the armpit and groin areas, while others fly on the back, head or neck.

Members of the skin microbiome may in some cases cause or contribute to certain skin diseases. Combinations may cause infection and / or disease if the skin breaks or changes in the epidermal “environment ((eg the amount of sebum present).

Bathroom Pros and Cons

Depending on the use of a horse, the number of baths it receives can vary greatly. Some of us may have to wrap our brains to remember the last time we washed our pony, while others give their babies a weekly spa treatment. Others are still washed daily or even several times a day.

Removal of dried sweat, dirt and debris is absolutely necessary, especially after driving. Foreign substances between horses and saddles or boots can damage the skin, cause infection and pain, and lose driving time. Grooming doesn’t have to take a bath, but it eliminates the rash and prevents these insults. Routine grooming also allows us to carefully examine our horse from top to bottom:

  • cuts, abscesses or abrasions;
  • Insect or animal bites;
  • Ectoparasites such as lice and ticks (the latter may transmit Lyme disease);

Abnormal growth such as warts, sarcoids, melanomas or aural plaques;

  • Body condition changes; and more.

Soap does not need to be a staple when bathing and grooming. Soap itself is a salt produced to mix a kind of oil (vegetable oil, processed gallows, coconut oil) with a base (such as sodium hydroxide) – a process called saponification. Also note that many products marketed as soaps or shampoos contain components that do not contain old-fashioned saponified oils.


Note the following ingredients in some popular horse shampoos:

  • Water (also known as aqua or eau);

Sodium lauryl sulfate, a detergent known to foaming and causing skin irritation in humans;

Cocamidopropyl betaine, a coconut-derived foaming agent;

  • Sodium chloride or table salt;

Cocamide MEA, a coconut based product mixed with ethanolamides used to increase foaming;

Glycol distearate, which acts as a chemical emollient to reduce evaporation of moisture in the skin;

  • propylene glycol to draw water to give the skin a supple appearance;
  • fragrance (fragrance) containing unexplained ingredients that are considered “trade secrets tarafından by the FDA;
  • Protective methylchloroisothiazolinone and / or methylisothiazolinone, which have antibacterial and antifungal effects and may irritate the skin at high concentrations; and
  • Butylphenyl methylpropional, a synthetic odor due to allergic reactions and skin irritation in humans.

The occasional use of such products can help your horse gain a scratchy, clean look and feel and reach rash, soiled and even dry skin scales. Excessive use (definition will vary from horse to horse), however, peels off the skin of normal, healthy microbial populations, as well as sebum natural oils.


Instead of leaving the skin and palette clean, soft and smooth, some horses begin to show signs of shedding, dandruff and itching. For comparison, consider how tight, dry and itchy your skin is after a long, warm, soapy shower. In addition, soaps and “extras olabilir can cause skin irritation, even contact dermatitis or allergic reactions causing hives. Because itchy, horses can scratch themselves, cause more damage to the skin, and allow pathogenic organisms and even “healthy” organisms that once colonize the skin to cause disease.

Well We often see dermatitis associated with bacterial infections of Staphylococcus and Dermatophilus; they cause both wear and tear, destroying the protective flora, or causing the normal flora to overgrow. ” “Owners often think it’s a fungus component, but usually these skin problems are related to Gram-positive bacteria, not fungi.”

Skin lesions are disturbing and may contribute to lost training or competition days. In addition, depending on the severity and location, the lesions may prevent some medical procedures. If the skin is poor, you may need to postpone joint injections, epidural analgesia and acupuncture treatments.

Well Infections can spread quickly, Bid says Bidwell. “In some cases, infections can be severe, causing cellulite, a serious bacterial infection of the skin and associated tissues that can cause intense swelling and sagging. In these cases it is guaranteed to request the attention of the veterinarian. ”


A simple way to avoid infections is to minimize bathing with soap and thoroughly dry a horse following a bath. Continuous moisture alone can still irritate the skin and may adjust for infection. Another reason to make sure your horse is completely dry before rinsing or bathing is that hair plays an important role in thermoregulation and does not work well when wet.



The Banes of Bathing Horses
The Banes of Bathing Horses

Putting Your Best Follicle Forward

Minimizing the frequency of baths and the use of soap and potentially harmful chemicals can help improve the overall quality and health of your horse’s skin and hair’s skin.

“We definitely witness a vicious circle, Bid says Bidwell. “The horses were over-washed, developed skin problems, and then washed more to solve skin problems caused by washing in the first place. These situations usually require systemic antibiotics and completely minimize water contact to solve the problem.

Basit Organize simple management changes, such as replacing regular shampoos with a very soft oatmeal aloe shampoo, or completely eliminating shampoos (or switching to a medicated shampoo if you are fighting a skin infection), drying the horses completely after bathing, continuing to dry to prevent topical alcohol, a bath and Minimizing the use of immunocompetent drugs such as systemic corticosteroids such as dexamethasone can quickly solve these problems. ”

Return Home Message

One of the signs of a healthy horse is a bright, sparkling coat. But remember that beauty comes from within. Instead of accessing fancy shampoo and conditioner bottles, focus on supporting a healthy integumenter system. When you need to wash or bleach, use soaps with caution and watch out for skin problems with the bath.

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