Lots of folks bathe their horses frequently, especially if they are show horses, but is this really good for the horse? Bathing your horses frequently can cause some skin issues for your horse. Dr. Lori Bidwell indicates in The Horse publication that some show horses get bathed three times a day and put up in their stalls still damp.
Removing dried sweat, dirt and debris is necessary, especially after riding, because foreign material between the horse and the saddle can damage the skin causing infection and pain. Grooming even without bathing can remove some of this debris. You may also find infections, parasites, tumors, cuts and abrasions you might have otherwise missed. Soap does not need to be used when bathing as soap itself is a chemical produced by mixing some sort of fat with a base to create a salt called saponification. However, lots of shampoos have other added ingredients that may or may not be good for the animal’s coat because some of these can irritate the skin.
Using these products sometimes is helpful to really clean the skin well but overusing them can strip the skin of its normal, healthy microbial populations as well as natural oils and sebum. Skin infections can occur due to over-washing because the normal bacterial flora is removed by shampooing and can allow overgrowth of disease-causing bacteria. Drying the skin can also lead to itching and rubbing, which allows skin infections to occur. When you do bathe your horse, make sure and dry the coat as moisture alone can irritate the skin. Although bathing is a treatment for some skin problems, it can cause other skin issues. Bathing with a shampoo that is soap-free, mild, and contains aloe and oatmeal is a good idea if frequent bathing is required.