Classic Equine Connection

Make Bath Time More Convenient

Posted by Classic Equine Equipment Blog on May 20, 2020 3:00:00 PM

Now that winter is over and there is a chance of horse shows this summer, having a clean horse may have moved to the top of your “to do” list. A safe and functional wash bay is an essential element of any barn.  It can be outside or inside, though of course most would prefer inside. Here are some ideas to consider when building or upgrading your wash area.

Wash bays are typically the same size as a stall.Wash bay columns - Classic Equine  They can be used for many other tasks as well – grooming, tacking up, shoeing and vet visits.  One of the main things you’ll need for your wash bay is access to water. While cold water is often sufficient in some parts of the country, installing a tankless water heater for instant hot water will make your barn a big favorite with anyone who boards there. There is nothing that says that a wash bay must be inside the barn.  In fact, in places with mild winters, most bathing is done with an outside wash rack.

When creating the overall design for your barn, think ahead of time where you want to put your wash areas. Since a quick rinse is often done on hot summer days after riding, the bay might be positioned near the tack room. Or to help it dry out more quickly, you may want to put the bay at either ends of the stable. One place NOT to put a wash bay is somewhere that is either too high traffic or too isolated. When bathing your horse, you are basically tying him into a 12 x 12 dark, wet area and that can be intimidating for some areas. Good lighting is very important.

Once you’ve identified the space, now it’s time to make it as water-resistant as possible. Using metal or water resistant wood or wood-like paneling will help keep the area dry between baths. Other options are concrete blocks painted with a waterproof sealant or some sort of fiberglass panel.

button mats- Classic equineA non-slip floor with a drain is an absolute necessity. If you are making a wash rack outdoors, this can easily be done by putting several layers of crushed gravel down and allow the water to simply seep down through the layers and away. However, for an indoor wash bay, there are more options.  While concrete is most often used, it is hard on a horse’s legs and can become slippery when wet. Interlocking button mats are a good option when it comes to wash bay flooring. Their button style design provides excellent traction, and along with being completely nonabsorbent,  they will not harbor or promote bacterial growth. 

When putting in the flooring, make sure that the bay slopes to help keep your horse from standing in water. A general rule of thumb is one inch of slope for every six feet of stall. There are several places to install your drain. One of the most common is right in the middle of the wash bay. But some horses can be spooky and not want to step on that “thing” in the middle of the floor.  Be sure you add a removable trap for cleaning. Another option is to put the drains near the back of the bay and use a removable grate.

Lights and radiant-heaters are great additions to your washOver the top washer- Classic equine bay. Infrared heaters can be added to help take the chill off a wet horse in cool conditions. While heaters work best when installed directly over where the horse will be standing, lights should be installed on either side of the stall ceiling or on the side walls to prevent shadows that could spook a horse. Add shelves or cabinets for common grooming supplies like brushes and shampoo and/or medical supplies. Look for cabinets made of plastic or metal – wood or laminate can fall apart too easily.

Hoses are a necessary part of any bath, but are often the most aggravating part of the process. Some people coil them up after use; others leave them strewn around so your horse has to step over them to get into the bay. The best solution is an “over-the-top washer.”  The wash unit keeps the hose above the animal’s head and off the floor, making it easy to move quietly and quickly through the bathing process.

Whether you bathe indoors or outdoors, there are still some things you must consider. If you are the handy do-it-yourself-er, much of the construction and plumbing can be done by you. But it’s best to have a building contractor look at your plans first – once you starts, it’s more difficult to correct any mistakes.

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