If you ride hunter jumpers and want to get noticed in the horse show ring, then pay attention to the horse grooming tips offered by Professional Equine Grooms. Your horse grooming technique, your ‘turn out’ and how you display your horse can make a difference to the horse show results.
Sometimes you come across a phrase or saying that sticks with you for the rest of your life. Something that makes you pick yourself up, even if you don’t want to, and carry on with a smile. Something that resonates in your very being as you get ready for your day.
For me, it was “Look Good, Feel Good, Do Good”. Putting on a smile, professional clothing, and tidy hair and make-up will make you feel good. You will do good.
The same is true of horses – if you horse looks good, you will look good, you will feel good, and then you will do good.
Why Horse Grooming Is Important
If your horse is impeccably groomed, it will show. The judge will notice. You will shine, and your placing will reflect that. If you are not impeccably groomed, it will show. The judge will notice. You will not place well.
Why? Because it shows a lack of respect. For your horse, the Judge, and the sport. Someone who spends the extra time to guarantee that their horse is spotless and perfect tells the Judge that they CARE, and when they care for these grooming details, they also care about the training details, the horsemanship details, and the health details.
Would you try and sell your car with a flat tire and dirty windows? Probably not, because someone coming to test drive it would think that if you don’t take care of the appearance, do you take care of the engine??
So – let’s get down to the heart of this matter. How do you ***WOW*** the socks off that judge?? Simple. Don’t cut corners. (OK…I’ll give you some tips too!!!)
Horse Grooming Necessities
- Get some shine going. Some honest shine. Not from a bottle. From a curry comb and elbow grease. Before and after you ride, this curry comb should be your best friend. Your horse’s natural oils are just that – natural. And, it’s a super warm up and cool down massage for your best friend. They deserve it.
- Clip the lower legs of your horse a week before a big show, especially if you have a chestnut. Which will look pumpkin after clipping. Blend the hair over the knee by flipping the clippers over and going with the hair.
- Learn to braid. I know a lot of big shows have Professional Braiders – (a gift from above, if you ask me!) and a lot of them work overnight. Try and schedule as close to your ride times as possible. OR – do it yourself. FRESH
braids that are even, tidy, and not rubbed stand out. Use a gentle hair gel to control those strays. Even if you use a Professional Braider, you will need to know how to do “repairs”.
- Baby powder is your friend. Used on the LEGS to brighten whites. Be careful if your horse slobbers a lot, as this creates a paste on the front legs.Nicely clipped ears and muzzles (if you like) create a clean picture. Again, fresh is not always best in this case. Play around with your horse to see how he looks a day or a week after a fresh clip.
Horse Grooming Tips for the Day of the Horse Show
- Sometimes your class is during or following a meal. It’s OK to use a big syringe of plain water to rinse your horse’s mouth before you put the bit in. Slobber is a sign of relaxation and submission, but green slobber is a sign of untidy horsemanship.
- Plan for fly and pest control. Find a spray you like that doesn’t look like you just dipped your horse in oil. Roll on for the ears.
- Some folks like to use baby oil or vaseline on the muzzle and eyes. I think it’s a bit too western for the hunter ring, your horse should shine from your curry and elbow grease, right?
- Use hoof dressing. And play around with different brands to see what you like and what works with the footing at the show.
- Have a helper with a last minute bucket-o-tricks waiting at the warm up for you.
This may include:
• Bottled water for you. If you are parched, you won’t smile and you won’t “do good”
• Damp rag to wipe excessive sweat and slobber and run over boots and irons. This can also be used in a pinch to tame ‘fly-away’ braids, just in case your reins loosened a braid.
• Dry rag for same reason. It will never fail that if you only have a damp rag, you need a dry one and vice-versa.
• Sugars. This stimulates chewing if your horse is tense before a class, but try this at home first!!
• Hoof pick with a brush. I’ve been to many a show where the warm up is less than stellar and rocky. Pick his feet. A stone will make him lame and ring you out. Use the brush to remove the warm up footing and re-apply hoof dressing.
• Hoof dressing. For last minute beautification.
• Braiding rubber bands. For last minute repairs, even if you have your braid sewn in.
• Stiff brush. Just in case the warm up footing is damp and it has clumped on your horse’s legs.
So – your horse is now show ring ready? Are you??