1 My stable is home to five Friesians, one Fell pony and three Sicilian donkeys. The stable also includes a tack room, a full kitchen, and a very well-sized shower stall for bathing.
2 The shower stall is tiled all the way around for easy cleaning. It also has padding on three walls to protect the horse, and a padded floor for sound footing.
3 A sturdy swivel arm allows the hose to be suspended above the horse, and not tangled on the stall floor.
4 On each side of the stall is a cross tie. Horses are always well-secured for safety whenever they are bathed or groomed.
5 The faucet and any necessary tools are kept in a recessed cabinet.
6 Here is Banchunch, the Fell pony I acquired for my grandchildren, Jude and Truman. During spring, he is bathed about once a week. Here, my groom, Dolma, attaches Banchunch to the cross ties.
7 Banchunch likes the water a bit warm, so Dolma waits until it is the perfect temperature before wetting his coat.
8 Dolma focuses on the mane and tail. She uses a good quality shampoo specifically designed for horses. It contains tea tree oil, peppermint oil and aloe vera, which suds nicely and rinses out easily. Tea tree oil is also a natural antiseptic - important since the horses spend so much time outdoors.
9 Horses have very sensitive skin, so when selecting a new shampoo, make sure to test on a small area first to make sure the horse does not show any adverse reactions to the formula.
10 Dolma works through the mane carefully - it is important to look for and remove any tangles or other debris at this time.
11 Dolma uses her fingers to free any tangled knots.
12 And slowly inspects the entire mane for anything unusual.
13 Dolma does the same for the tail - she carefully inspects it for any tics or debris.
14 The big horses - my dear Friesians - were brought indoors because of all the rain we had on this day.
15 After both his tail and mane are soaped, Dolma gives Banchunch a good rinse over his entire body. The horses are groomed every day, and on non-bath days are cleaned with a waterless shampoo on all but their manes and tails. During showers, their manes and tails are thoroughly washed.
16 Dolma also cleans Banchunch's forelock. The forelock, or foretop, is a part of a horse's mane, that grows from the animal's poll and falls forward between the ears and onto the forehead.
17 Dolma rinses his legs and feet, where burs, leaves, and oil buildup can cause fungi and inhibit coat growth. The horses are always kept very clean to prevent this from happening.
18 Dolma rinses Banchunch until the water runs clear. Frequent use of soap can remove the natural oils from a horse's skin, so it is important to rinse well, and to bathe only when necessary.
19 Banchunch doesn't seem to mind any of the attention.
20 Dolma then uses a sweat scraper to remove any excess water from the coat.
21 The sweat scraper is run along all parts of the body, similar to the way a squeegee is used on a shower door or wall.
22 Dolma takes care to clean the face - never use shampoo on the horse's face, just plain water and a cloth.
23 She moved along his nose, and gently wipes off any water or debris.
24 And, cleans the outer part of each nostril.
25 Next, Dolma conditions his mane. Conditioning helps to build up the hair and keep it healthy. It also helps when combing out the snarls and tangles.
26 She uses the same conditioner for his tail. A good equine conditioner coats each hair shaft to keep manes and tails tangle-free while its conditioning action reduces static fly-aways. It also repels dust, dirt, and stains, protecting the grooming job and keeping the horse cleaner longer.
27 And then it is back to the stall for a snack.
28 Thanks for my bath, Dolma.
29 After the bath, Dolma rinses the shower stall clean, so it is ready for the next horse.
30 Banchunch's coat is so very shiny - signs of a good and healthy equine.