Tack rooms usually have a bucket full of sponges in different sizes, textures and status of deterioration.
Natural sponges are an old favorite and come in different sizes and shapes. They are either cut to a specific shape or left uncut, called “form.”
Form sponges are easy to grip because of their rough, free-formed surface. With proper care, a natural sponge may last 10 years. Rinse them well after each use and place them in a mesh bag or rack to air dry.
Synthetic sponges are usually made from polyurethane or polyester. Fine-pore sponges are best suited for holding water. Honeycomb sponges, which have coarser pores, can also work as scrubbing sponges.
If sponges are used on more than one horse, it’s good to disinfect them to prevent the spread of skin infections. Boiling for 10 minutes can be used for all sponges. If the sponges float, put them in a mesh bag with a clean stone. (Sterilize natural sponges by boiling only; bleach will deteriorate them.)
Many synthetic sponges can also be sterilized by soaking in a bleach solution or ammonia. Both these solutions are toxic and produce strong fumes that can cause internal and external irritations. Never mix bleach and ammonia. Bleach is used at four ounces per gallon of water and ammonia at 3.5 ounces per gallon. Nolvasan, a disinfectant used in hospitals, is used at three ounces per gallon.
A simple way to disinfect synthetic sponges is to machine wash them in hot, soapy water and add bleach or Nolvasan, according to label instructions.
We evaluated sponges for ease of use and performance bathing horses, durability and cost.
Simi Sheepswool #E105: Uncut natural sheepswool. Soft, absorbent and good texture for scrubbing. $7-$23. Best natural sponge, despite price.
Simi Yellow #E205: Uncut natural sponge. Very smooth, fine-pored sponge. Good for the face. $5.50 to $20.
Simi Cosmetic #E345: Cut natural sponge. Runs small. $3-$8.Farnam/Horse Health Half Moon #700-200: Polyurethane. Fine pores. We found this sponge better for holding water than scrubbing. $2.85.
Hydra Honeycomb #HSB: Reticulated foam. Coarser pores, good for large water volume and scrubbing. Durable. Good for squeezing water over a horse. $3.50 to $7.50.
Dover Saddlery Handi-Grip #1065: Synthetic. High water volume, good for bathing but not scrubbing, fine pores, good for wetting or rinsing. $1.79. Best Buy.
Hydra Fine Pore Body #FSB: Polyester-based reticulated foam. Nice water-holding sponge, not as good for scrubbing. $2-$4.
Importer Direct Dalesman #5005-0003 By Carr & Day & Martin: Tended to tear more easily than most, but we liked the contour shape. $2.25.
Fox Run Equest #10R, #8R: High-density commercial-grade polyester. Durable tough sponges that get softer with use. $1.50-$8.95. Overall best sponge.
Importer Direct Flexodry #5005-0001: Handy combination of a sweat scraper and a large durable sponge for those who like combo-tools, but we prefer a regular sponge and sweat scraper. $6.50.
Hydra Scrub N Wash Sponge #HSW: Reticulated foam, semi-rough on one side, smooth on the other. Good for scrubbing stains, washing and spot cleaning. $2-$3.
Absorbine Scrub & Wash Sponge: Manufactured by Hydra Sponge under private label. 100% polyester, semi-rough on one side, softer on the other. This sponge was convenient for small grass and manure stains, washing and scrubbing legs, and spot-washing. Overall, a good choice. $3.40-$4.50.
Sparta So-Soft Kleen Udder #9600: Polyester/urethane foam sponge/cloth. Same advantages as #9400, below, plus can be twisted, softer for delicate jobs. $3.04/2.
Sparta Kleen Udder #9400: Cellulose sponge/cloth. Great sponge-cloth compromise for things like cleaning an udder. Holds more water than #9600, above. $3.70/2.
Contact Your Local Tack Store Or:
Farnam Companies, Inc.
PO Box 34820
Phoenix, AZ 85067
PO Box 5837
Holliston, MA 01746
PO Box 317
Sparta, WI 54656
Fox Run Horse Products
840 Valens Road RR #1
Troy, ON, Canada L0R 2B0
PO Box 14
Springfield, MA 01102-0014
Simi Sponge Company
352 Boca Chica Rd.
Key West, FL 33040
Hydra Sponge Co.
800 Biltmore Dr.
Fenton, MO 63026
Dewinton, AB, Canada T0L 0X0