How do I hot towel my horse in the winter?
Hot toweling is a way for Grooms and horse owners to accomplish a few things:
- Get your horse sparkly clean in the winter
- Work on your strength by employing elbow grease
- Steam clean your own pores
What is hot toweling, exactly?
Hot toweling is basically a way for you to use a hot towel to steam clean your horse using small rags or towels soaked in piping hot water. For best results, start with a thorough curry, brush, and vacuum of your horse. This will remove most of the dirt and dust and leave the steam to do the super dirty work.
How do you do it?
Well, gather some towels (I prefer to work with washcloths or dishtowel sizes, the larger towels are too bulky for me.) You will also need a clean bucket (or two) and access to steamy hot, hot water. Not boiling, but definitely hotter than you could stand. I also like to use rubber gloves so my delicate Groom's hands don’t get drier and more cracked than they already are.
This instant hot water kettle is great for having a fresh supply of steamy goodness.
You can use a hot water from the faucet if you have it, you can lug it from the house, or you can use a water heater that plugs into an outlet. Use your preferred hot water method with supervision so that nothing gets melted or overheated.
Soak your towels in the hot water and thoroughly wring out a towel. You want steamy damp, not hot wet. Use the towel like a curry comb to work back and forth in small areas at a time. Work with and against the natural lay of the hair. To encourage drying, leave the hair poking up and cover with a cooler to help dry and keep warm. If the hair it wet, you have too much water and need to wring out the towel more. If your horse is clipped, please be super careful with the water/steamy towel temp as a clipped horse has much less protection.
I like to use a second bucket of hot water as my “rinse” bucket. Then I don’t muck up the original hot water, and hopefully it’s still hot enough to keep going with more towels. You may also find that you need to have a system here, perhaps like this:
- Create a steamy towel in a bucket of hot water
- Curry your horse with the steamy towel
- Let used towel soak in a rinse bucket to remove dirt, dust, remnants of stains, hair.
- Cycle through your towels - steamy, dirty, rinsed.
- Stop occassionally to admire your buff arms
Does hot toweling work for all horses?
It's all a giant experiment - your horse's hair coat is totally different from every other horse! Very thick winter coats can be helped with hot toweling, but often end up too wet and take too long to dry. However, if you need to do it, you can always try it in critical areas (like the saddle) and go from there!
You can also add a few drops of mild shampoo to your bucket, some folks like to add a few drops of baby oil. Be warned that any products may leave a residue as you won't be able to rinse your horse. Residue may be totally fine - it may also attract more dirt, or it could be itchy for your horse.
When you are all done, your arms will have had a great workout and your horse will be awesomely clean!