How should I turn my horse out for a clinic?
In many ways, turn out for a clinic is similar to turn out for a show, with a few exceptions. You want to be respectful to your clinician, and you want your horse to shine, shine, shine. You don’t necessarily need to go full out and prep your horse like you would for a show, but the basics are the same.
Here’s a quick checklist for you:
-Clean horse! A bath the night before is often in order. You may want to flip flop a turnout routine so that he can roll his heart out before the suds hit his coat. For some tips on how to keep him clean overnight, you can read this previous article.
-Tidy mane. Many clinicians like to observe the musculature on both sides of your horse, which is hard to do with a crazy mane. Have a trim, pulled mane that is trained to one side of your horse for most english and some western disciplines. For reiners and other longer maned horses in the western disciplines, you may want to ask the clinician in advance if they have a preference.
For wild manes that are not quite trained to lay to one side, consider braids. This doubles as an opportunity to practice for show day and creates a much nicer presentation. For baroque horses, a running braid is a must to keep the reins free and also show the clinician what’s going on under there.
-Tidy tail. Trim the top (if appropriate for your discipline) and bang the bottom. I’m more concerned about the bottom being tidy and trim than the top, as some horses have their tails braided for show, in which case trimming the top is not a good idea at all! Banging the tail takes 30 seconds and can take your horse from drab to fab. (Wow that was a lame sentence…)
-Tidy miscellaneous. Bridle paths, legs, coronary bands, whiskers (if that is appropriate for your horse’s discipline and your sensibilities), tops of tails, ears.
What on earth are your going to wear? Or more specifically, what is your horse going to wear??
-Super clean and conditioned tack. You can give your saddle a once over with some paste conditioner just before you get on to give your saddle a great gleam. This also helps your bum stick to the saddle. This is always a bonus, as no one really wants to have an “OMG” moment with a big shot famous clinician.
-Polo wraps. White polo wraps. These are the “norm” for most horses being presented under saddle in a clinic. Skip the velcro boots if you can. Exceptions to this would be jumpers over fences, in which case use appropriate boots, or any situation where there could be water, either from an obstacle or rain. Other exceptions would be a discipline where boots are not the norm at all.
I tend to like black polo wraps on gray and white horses, otherwise your white or gray horse can look dingy. Black seems to make them pop with a bright white coat, but if you use super white polo wraps, your horse may not look so white. Experiment on this one.
-Spotless metal parts. Bit rings (not bits), spurs, and stirrups should be polished to a shine.
-Use hoof dressing. It’s adds a polished look to your horse. I prefer clear, it looks great on all hoof colors.
-A clinic is not the time to bust our your hot pink and leopard printed saddle pad. White, white, white.
-Same goes for you. No red or lime green breeches with a zebra print or floral top. Collared shirt, neutral solid color, long or short sleeves. Plain and neutral breeches. Polished boots.
-Don’t forget KEEP your clothes clean. I like to pull on a pair of PJ’s over my riding clothes just in case. Nothing like entering the ring to ride with your fave Olympian with a slimy green stain on your thigh.
Have fun and show your horse off!!