Even if you're blessed with a good wash-stall arrangement, bathing your horse is a time-consuming job. You know the routine: Hose the horse down. Mix shampoo in a bucket. Sponge and scrub down the horse. Rinse.
Enter sprayer systems. They?re similar to the mixing sprayers for pesticides that you can attach to your garden hose. Some products have the sprayer attached directly to the product container, while others require you purchase a separate unit. In general, the sprayer heads have dials for ?Off,? ?Rinse,? and ?Wash,? with a few having additional wash settings to vary the amount of shampoo used.
For ease of giving a bath, we give this new method a huge ?thumbs up.? It's much faster than traditional bathing and wastes less water (and you stay drier, too). How well the products cleaned was more related to their composition/ingredients and the filth level of the horse than the actual method.
Our Trial. No horse used to getting a bath with a water nozzle objected to the method. Baths were faster, unless the horse was caked with mud. The pressurized spray helped, but we still had to either curry the horse first, rinse several times before using the bathing setting, or repeat the bath more than once?especially with a surfactant-only product.
We liked not guessing how much soap to add to the wash bucket and loved avoiding knocked-over buckets and water dripping down our arms from a wet, soapy sponge. We used about 4 oz. of product for an average-size horse, which is similar to our bucket-mixing methods.
The products with sprayers attached to the shampoo bottle basically work like a sprayer on a garden hose. The strength of the stream is determined primarily by the water pressure. Before turning on the water, be sure the hose is seated securely and the nozzle is screwed down as tightly.
Although designed to be refillable, the attached sprayers don't seat as securely once they have been removed. Dials can become ?sticky? and difficult to turn. When putting on and taking off your hose, be especially careful to check that the washer in the sprayer is in place and has not fallen out.
These methods are faster, not cheaper. Our favorite everyday shampoo, Corona (www.coronaproducts.com, 800-241-6996), costs about 10? a bath (concentrate formula). The sprayable products cost 52? to over $2 per bath.
For heavy-duty cleaning, the traditional sudsing shampoos had the advantage in terms of loosening heavy dirt/manure and lifting stains. Our top pick here is White N Brite, which we found made all coat colors shine.
For frequent baths, we think the low-suds formulas are ideal. They produce a light foam that disappears into the coat quickly. Spot cleaning is needed for thick buildup and on thicker coats, manes and tails. With these, Quik-Clenz left a great shine, but the more economical Mane n Tail Spray Away Concentrate earns Best Buy and top choice for spray products. Shampoos We Tried.
Suds, Soaps and Surfacants
Soap is nothing more than common natural oils or fats reacting with a sodium or potassium alkalinizing agent to form a solid soap. Soaps/surfactants remove oils by attaching their hydrophobic end to the oil, hydrophilic end to water, allowing the oils to be swept off. They remove dirt by a combination of decreasing the surface tension of the water and holding the dirt particles in suspension.
A detergent is simply anything that cleans. Detergents contain either natural or synthetic surfactants as well as ?other? ingredients, such as abrasives, water softeners, bleaching/oxidizing agents, etc.
Products with ingredients of plant/botanical origin often claim to be safer to irritated skin. This isn?t necessarily true. A horse (or you) may prove to be sensitive to any ?natural? ingredient. Sensitivities may or may not be immediate and can even develop after two weeks or so of use. If your horse develops a skin problem when using any topical product, always stop to see if that solves the problem.
eZall Tops Stand-Alone Tools
While most of the products came with a sprayer attached to the bottle, a few required a separate foaming/sprayer tool, which we prefered. We found more options with these tools, which allow you to adjust the mixing based on your water pressure and adjust the concentration of soap, strength and direction of the spray. The sprayers can be used with different soaps to wash your trailer, car, cart and so on as well (rinse container well between products).
Our favorite is the eZall foamer with its comfortable squeeze handle. We loved its long nozzle. The sprayer is well-constructed and nicely balanced.
The Mane n Tail sprayer, at under $15, is a Best Buy, and the angled spray is a nice touch. You don't get a long nozzle, but you can add a spray handle to it.
The Mane n Tail Deluxe Sprayer has a squeeze handle and long nozzle, like the eZall, and it allows you to vary the amount of shampoo you want to apply during a spray session. It's also very durable, with brass fittings. We like it, but we stumbled over its price compared to the eZall.