It’s the morning of a clinic with a big-name trainer and your horse greets you with a bright green manure stain on his rump. It’s too cold to bathe him, but you can’t show up like this. It’s time to try hot toweling—a time-tested grooming technique that can produce bath-like results, even in the dead of winter.
Here’s a quick how-to:
1. Gather a clean bucket, electric teakettle, rubber dish-washing gloves and a stack of clean towels. Smaller, hand-size or dish towels make the process a bit easier than using bath or beach towels.
2. Mix boiling water from the kettle with water from the tap to fill the bucket with water so hot that you can just stand to put your gloved hand into it.
3. Dunk the entire clean towel (or a section of it if you are using a large towel) into the hot water.
4. Wring the towel thoroughly to remove as much of the water as you can.
5. Before the towel cools down, briskly rub the stain on your horse. Stop rubbing once the towel stops steaming.
6. Dunk the entire towel again, or a new section of the large towel, and repeat steps 4 and 5 until the stain is gone.
The moist heat and rubbing action of the towel will help lift the stain out, but the quick evaporation of the water will keep the horse from becoming soaked or chilled. If you will be hot toweling a large section of your horse, cover the cleaned section with a cooler as you work. Avoid brushing damp areas with a dirty brush or you will just push dirt off the brush back onto your clean horse.
This article first appeared in EQUUS issue #472, January 2017.