Horse Grooming Tips for Show Day

Take a moment to brush up on your grooming techniques with tips from the pros to make your horse shine on show day.
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Take a moment to brush up on your grooming techniques with tips from the pros to make your horse shine on show day.

In the May 2005 issue of Horse & Rider magazine, we gave you an all-inclusive show-day checklist to help you get organized and ward off those pre-show jitters. We included a comprehensive list of grooming supplies you'll need to keep your horse looking his best on show day. Now that you have all your grooming tools, follow these tips from the pros to make your horse shine in the show ring:

Show-day shine starts at home, not at the show. Use these pros

Show-day shine starts at home, not at the show. Use these pros

Mane and Tail
On the morning of your show, apply Mane 'n Tail shampoo and conditioner to your horse's mane and tail. After his mane and tail are wet, use a comb, rather than a brush, to prevent hair breakage. Then braid his tail and put it in a tube sock to keep it clean. Right before your class, apply a spray-on coat conditioner for extra shine and brush his tail vigorously.

Matt Mills, Matt Mills Reining Horses, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Face and Ears
The day before your show, clip your horse's nose, eyes, ears, chin and bridle path. On show day, check and trim any stray hairs and thoroughly bathe him. (Enhance your horse's light or white coat and/or markings with a product like Quic Silver shampoo.) Then wipe baby oil over his ear, nose and eye areas to add shine. Just before entering the arena, run a clean rag over his face to remove any dirt or sweat.
Andrea Fappani, Fappani Performance Horses, Temecula, Calif.

Hair Coat
A beautiful coat starts at home, not at a show. Excellent nutrition and regular deworming make for a healthy coat. After every workout, bathe him with Healing Tree Private Reserve Tea Tree shampoo, then apply a leave-on rinse: 2 tablespoons each of Healing Tree Private Reserve Tea Tree conditioner and Vetrolin liniment mixed into a half-gallon bucket of warm water. At shows, repeat this process, adding a silicone-based finishing product, such as Cowboy Magic Detangler & Shine for extra shine.
Mary Jane Brown, Diamond B Training, Newberg, Ore.

Feet and Legs
One week before a show, bathe your horse with an equine shampoo. Then clip his legs--this lead time will allow any clipper irritation to heal. On the morning of your show, use a sanding block on each hoof to create an even surface. Then use black SuperShine Hoof Polish, even on light hooves--it really makes white markings stand out. After the polish dries, apply Hoof Polish Enhancer, a clear lacquer that seals the color.
Rusty Green, Rusty Green Quarter Horses, Richmond, Ind.

White Markings
A week before showing, wash your horse's white legs and large white markings with Pro Steps Brilliance shampoo. Three days before a show, clip the white markings on his legs and face as close to the skin as possible. One day before a show, bathe him; the morning of a show, bathe him again to ensure he's perfectly clean. While he's still damp, apply Pro Stepps finishing spray on his legs and body. (Avoid applying this product to your horse's face--it could irritate his eyes.) Wait until he's completely dry and then apply baby powder--the kind with cornstarch--on his legs to enhance whiteness. Apply polo wraps from his knees to his coronet bands and don't remove them until you reach the in-gate.
Mike Hachtel, Esouela Ranch, Helenville, Wisc.