© - Content and images in this blog are copyright HorseGrooms LLC unless stated otherwise. Feel free to repost or share for non-commercial purpose, but please make sure to link back to this website and its original post.

℗ - We do not store any information about your visit to our website other than for analytics and optimization for content and reading experience through the use of cookies.

℅ - Our site does at times contain paid advertisements, sponsored content, and/or affiliate links.

Reader Etiquette


Get the FREE Guide

We're on a mission to advance the craft of grooming & keep horsemanship alive.

Master recipe maker


subscribe for free

Get Access to Exclusive HorseGrooms Content

Don’t Spray Your Horse In The Face!

We all see it too often, and maybe you do it yourself: spraying a horse in the face. Although we know there’s not only one correct way when it comes to horses and their care, about one thing we from HorseGrooms are adamant: spraying a horse in the face with a hose often leads to much discomfort and unhappiness for the horse. Stable manager Nanci Snyder discusses other ways to clean a horse’s face, with empathy and horsemanship.

At first glance, this lead photo is a stunning picture. The spray of water over the horse’s face catches the light perfectly. 

On one level, there is beauty in this picture, but most people who work with horses will see something else.


Most of us have unintentionally gotten a few drops of water in a horse’s ear because they moved, and we know what a negative reaction you can get. They shake their head from side to side violently for a few seconds, trying to get the water out, and then that ear usually sits at a 90-degree angle for a minute or two. I don’t know exactly what they are feeling, but their reaction very clearly shows their discomfort. 

Try To Avoid Getting Water In A Horse’s Ear

As a groom, I always used a sponge – not a spray of water – to wash my horse’s face. Even then, I had to be careful not to get water in their ears. Most horses get a little tense when you reach up to wash their face. With a few horses, I even had to put the sponge down and use a small damp towel to wash off the sweat. This behavior makes me think they have had a bad experience in the wash stall. 

So why are so many horses sprayed in the face by their grooms? My only guess is that the intention is to get their horse’s head really clean, and once all that soap is on, it has to come off….. 

First, lathering a horse’s face isn’t really necessary. This horse will happily roll in a mud puddle or sleep on a pile of manure. Just because you have a bucket of soapy water, it doesn’t have to cover your horse from head to toe. 

There Is Often a Middle Way

If you are really losing sleep over the little bit of dandruff in your horse’s forelock, there are a few things you can try. 

  • You can use just a tiny bit of soap, so it is easier to rinse out. 
  • If your horse is used to earplugs, you can use those at bath time. (Only as a precaution; not as a ticket to go ahead and spray them in the face.)
  • With some practice, you can master “crimping” the hose, so you have better control of water flow and where it goes. 

My take-home message: Listen to your horse, and if they tell you they don’t like something, then ask yourself: “How important is this? Is there a different way to do it? Is there a compromise?” 

Can we teach empathy? I don’t know, but we all have to try. 

Feature photo courtesy of Shelley Paulson Photography.

June 29, 2024

Nanci Snyder 🇺🇸

read & Leave a comment






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

learn more

The Community for Horse grooms

join now

Featuring event schedules, connection with peers, access to industry leaders, and exclusive courses. Signing up is totally free and gets you instant access to everything the Community has to offer.

get involved