Before any pampering and preening the first step to success in the show ring is to know your class, especially if you’re a newbie to the category or showing in general. Check the presentation rules and guidelines for your horse before you whip out the clippers and it’s too late! For example, show/maxi cobs are normally hogged with feathers removed, however a traditional cob should have impressively full feathers and mane. Most of the information can be found online or talk to show organisers who will be happy to point you in the right direction.
If you want winning results, prepare for some hard work. Getting even the tidiest horse ready to show takes time and effort (keeping them that way for the big day takes even more), but don’t worry there are plenty of products to help you along the way. Usually a bath comes first and there is a huge choice when it comes to shampoos. If you’re lucky enough to own a grey horse, you have your work cut out, but a specialist whitener such as Horse Health Brite Whites will help rid the coat of pesky stains. Similarly, black coats in need of a boost will benefit from a colour intensifying shampoo such as Supreme Products Black Shampoo. It’s a good idea to give your grooming kit a good clean at the same time so you’re not brushing dust and dirt back onto your horse when he’s dry!
Horse clean, add some lustre to the coat with a shine product such as Lemieux Time to Shine Finishing Spray. Not only does this give a brilliant glossy finish it also helps to show off muscle definition.
Next move on to the mane and tail. Unruly locks can be easily made more manageable using a dangler or conditioner, but it might be wise to use the latter a day or two before you attempt to plait, or the hair can be too soft to hold tight. A tidy tail plait takes practice, try watching online tutorials for hints and tips to get that super neat look.
As much as you don’t want your horse having a bad hair day, nor should you! The appearance of the rider/handler in the show ring is just as important as the horse, check with your breed society if you are unsure of what you should wear. As a rule, think smart – buffed boots, tidy hair, clean clothes (not grass stained jods!). Don’t forget to give your tack a thorough clean and polish too.
Make a list of everything you need to take with you to the show so you’re not in a panic on the day and arrive early enough to finish last minute jobs like applying hoof oil. A packet of wipes is handy to have for inevitable last-minute marks, and it often pays to have a spare set of show clothes just in case – no one wants their hard work wasted over a coffee cup mishap!