Bathing your horse isn't usually considered a dangerous activity, but wash stall accidents are not uncommon. Even the calmest horse can spook, and the combination of water and soap can easily make the footing slick. These tips can help you make your bathing area safer:
Take steps to reduce slippage. Rubber floor mats or grooved concrete can improve traction on the floor, but remember that your horse can still hit a slippery patch, so allow him to move freely to find his own footing. You are also at risk for slipping: Wear shoes or boots that provide good traction while bathing a horse, and step carefully when the floor is wet.
Keep the hose out of the way. Dragging a hose against a leg can spook any horse, and you don't want to entangle a foot. Use a long hose that can reach all the way around the space without having to touch the horse, and make sure it stays out of the way while you're using it.
Organize your tools. Too much clutter in the wash area is a hazard, and you're likely to end up fumbling for the items you need. Consider installing a wall mounted organizer or shelves, or use a plastic tote to keep your bottles, scrapers and sponges where you can reach them as you need them.
Keep it short. If your horse only just tolerates being bathed, avoid lingering in the wash stall. Keep distractions to a minimum, get the job done and move on.
This article first appeared in EQUUS issue #431.