Getting your horse to sparkle takes time and effort but can have very rewarding results.
The day before the show is the best time to bath your horse and using a horse shampoo gives the best results as the pH levels have been tested and are balanced for a horses’ coat. For greys and stains there are many products to help with extra whitening and tough stains.
To get the best results you can either add the shampoo to a bucket of water and use a sponge or brush (a dandy would be most effective) or apply directly to the coat and rub in with a sponge or brush. Get a good lather up and make sure you get all those hard to reach places.
For best rinsing the hose pipe is by far the easiest although not all horses are a fan (mine used to grab it and spray me!). If they won’t let you near them with the hose then try a bucket and sponge. Make sure you get all the soap out to avoid any irritation and using a sweat scraper is really helpful for getting the excess water off the coat quickly. If it’s a hot day they will dry quickly but you can speed this up by walking the horse. If the weather is against you then use a sweat rug until they are dry.
There is nothing more lovely than a well groomed tail and detanglers are a great help and addition to any grooming kit, however care is needed not to over use as they tail can become greasy looking. I always brush the tail to get the worst knots out and then use my fingers to get the rest of the tangles as this seems to ‘fluff’ up the tail at the same time and avoids lots of hair being pulled out. The tail should be cut neatly to just below the hock length when help with an arm under the dock so its not too short when carried.
Once they are dry you can give them a once over with a soft body brush, finishing cloth or grooming noodle which will bring their coat up nicely. Ensure feet are clean and picked out and feathers are brushed or combed through. Chalk or whitening products can be used for extra whitening.
Some people like to remove whiskers which can be done with a horse shave and obvious care should be taken. Ears and a bridle path can be trimmed to look neat.
The morning of a show you will need to give him the once over and remove any stable stains. A dry shampoo is useful here to save washing again but if washing is necessary use a sponge and bucket and just a small amount of water and shampoo to avoid too much lather. Once groomed a coat gloss is a great addition for an extra sparkle and will help keep the dust and grease off the coat.
If plaiting then a quick plait spray can be helpful as it ensures the mane lies down making for a neat and tidy plait whether using bands or sewing.
Ensure your tack is gleaming, boots polished and hair is tidy under your and that you are well presented.
Apply hoof polish just before you go into the ring so its shiny without everything being stuck to it.