Horse show grooming doesn't have to stress you out! Follow these tips from experienced rider and founder of Pony Glam™ Andrea Wise, for success in the show ring! Andrea and her Diva Horse Chloe, currently compete in Hunters and Jumpers.
The day before we leave for an event, I try to have Chloe and my tack show-ready in terms of presentation.
This is true whether we are going to a schooling show, or rated weekend show. You should always try to present yourself, your horse, and your trainer/barn in the best possible light, so when Chloe walks off the trailer I want her looking clean and well-kept.
Being prepared in the grooming department will make it easier on you once you arrive at the showgrounds. There is always so much work to be done once you arrive at the show, so the last thing you want to be worried about is a dirty horse or dirty tack. Being prepared means that after your schooling or longeing session, your horse will only need a good brushing or quick rinse, which will save you a lot of time otherwise.
I actually begin preparing Chloe for the show a few days before we leave. Pulling a mane and body clipping is not something you want to wait until the day of the show to do! So, a few days prior we make sure the horses have appropriate mane lengths and if needed, we band their manes over after they are pulled. This preparation keeps the mane on the correct side, which for the Hunter world is the right side, and makes it easier to braid.
Chloe only gets body clipped about twice a year, so most of the time before a show, when it comes to clipping, I only have to worry about her bridle path, face whiskers and fetlocks. Be sure to clean and lubricate your clippers as needed to keep them in top condition. This is also a good time to do all of the horse laundry that you will be bringing with you: standing wraps, show pads, schooling polos, stable sheets, etc!
To maximize horse show grooming preparation, the day before the event I will give Chloe a bath after we ride.
I don't use a lot of horse shampoo products for grooming, which doesn't necessarily mean I am against it, I just am pretty cheap and I wouldn't know which to buy! I like to use Jergens Baby Shampoo because it is gentle and doesn't strip away the natural oils in her coat that give her that natural shine. I also like to use Ivory dish soap on her legs. I use lots of conditioner on her tail too, since I rarely ever brush it and I never, ever do so if its not completely detangled!
If I am grooming for a show or clinic, I will finish her off with a color enhancer, which I actually think really works and seems to make her coat brighter. I finish by spraying her entire body, including her mane and tail, with a skin conditioner. This makes her really soft, shiny and moisturized. She gets dry skin!!
An extra horse show grooming tip: Do not apply this
conditioner to the saddle area! It will be quite slippery and you don't
want your saddle to slip backwards or to one side! The day before I also scrub and polish my tack and Chloe's jumper boots. Everything should be well oiled and gorgeous.
At the in-gate of my class, the must-haves in my grooming box are pretty simple since Chloe is already spotless and ring ready! She is only going to really need 3 main things up near the in-gate.
The first is fly spray. I never want a ticked off Chloe before I enter the arena!
The second is my obsession: baby wipes! I love baby wipes because they wipe last minute dust and dirt off the legs, face, nose, mouth and even boots and reins.And lastly, every grooming box at the in-gate should have hoof dressing, preferably Pony Glam's Hoof Hi-Lites.
My favorite color to use for Chloe while showing is Sassy Silver, as it gives her hooves a subtle, sparkly sheen. For me, the dressing is the final touch to making a horse look polished and ring ready! Good luck!!
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