What should I do differently at shows while grooming my horse?
The mission (according to me anyway) at a horse show is to be the best you can be, reflecting your hard work at home both in and out of the saddle. If you work at your grooming routine at home, there is very little that needs to change at the show. I’m a big fan of doing a little bit every day, this helps desensitize your horse to some grooming tasks, and it also helps you avoid the last minute, pre-show grooming blitz when you should be packing, eating, or sleeping.
Things to keep up with at home so show prep is easy:
- Mane taming. This may include pulling, training to lay to one side, and even practice braiding. This is a great way to get your horse used to having his mane handled and braided. Show day is no time to find out that he hates being braided!
- Tail taming. Banging the tail, keeping the tail top tidy with either scissors, or even clippers or pulling.
- Any manure stain management. Deal with this daily so the stains don’t become impossible to remove.
- Tack TLC. Keep up with cleaning, conditioning, and safety inspections.
It's the details!
- Bridle path clipping. This makes your horse’s bridle fit better and makes your braids look amazing. For more info on bridle paths, you have this article as a reference.
- Lower leg clipping, ear hair trimming, and even face clipping. You certainly don’t have to do any of these things, but lower leg clipping helps chrome pop. Ear hair trimming can be as simple as removing the fly away on the ear edges. Some breeds face their faces clipped for show, it’s optional.
- Products! Try them out at home so you know how things will go at the show. You may find that you love one detangle for the tail, but a conditioner for the mane works better. This also helps your packing list!
- Sheath cleaning and udder cleaning. The sheath and udder areas can sometimes ooze out some smegma and create sticky stains on the inside of your horse’s upper leg. Perfect for show day panic attacks.
Things to add on your normal grooming routine for show day. These shouldn’t add a bunch of time if you have been keeping up, but they will make your horse stand out in the ring.
- Extra white chrome. Use cornstarch, baby powder, or Show Touch Ups to brighten legs before you meet the judge.
- Super tidy braids or bands. Use some hair gel or Mane Tamer to make sure all wispy hairs are tucked away. You can find tips on braiding here.
- A clean nose and mouth. While I typically wipe my horse’s nose on a daily basis, I usually only rinse his mouth before the bit goes in. I use a 60cc syringe to make sure there are no hay bits waiting to create green foam that will inevitably flail back and hit white legs, clean saddle pads, or me. (For tips on training your horse to love this, look here!)
No green foam for the show ring!
- Extra shine. I like to top off show prep with a sheen product. You can also use a smidge of baby oil around noses if you like. Bonus - some stain protection overnight. You can also use a wisp for massive extra shine, learn to make one here!
- Super nice (and white) saddle pads. Show pads are definitely separate from every day saddle pads.
- Saddle conditioner. At home, I might clean the saddle daily and condition it weekly or so. At the show, you can use a lederbalsam just before you get on. This creates a nice sheen on your tack and some added stickiness for your bum. Both good to have on hand to impress the judges.
Have fun at the show!
What extra steps does your grooming routine have for shows?