When attending a show it is important that your horse look its best. Adding a few finishing touches can make all the difference between a nice looking horse, and an animal that wins the class.
Let’s start by assuming that your horse has been thoroughly bathed before the show. Braiding has been arranged, and your tack is clean are ready for use.
To get the best shine on your horse, you will want to give him a thorough grooming. While bathing is great for getting out the dirt, the coat can often use some extra help to keep its shine. While your horse is still damp, take a large saddle pad and place it over its back. Then spray a light coating of show sheen over the coat where you will not be placing tack. Never spray under the saddle area, or where you need tack to stay snug.
While show sheen may seem a quick fix, it has many properties that make it very useful. It will increase the shine in your horse’s coat, but more importantly, it will help repel dust.
Be sure not to show sheen the mane if you plan on having it braided, and not to show sheen above the end of the dock on the tail. Show sheen is very slippery and will make braiding next to impossible.
If your horse has white hooves, or if the hooves are rough or uneven, try taking some mid-grade sandpaper and lightly sanding the hooves. You can find sandpaper on hard foam blocks that are easier to handle than plain paper. While sanding the hooves may sound a bit odd, as long as you don’t do it too often and only use it to smooth the surface layer and remove stains, it will not hurt your horse.
When finished, apply a layer of clear hoof polish to the hooves to keep them shiny. Black hoof polish can look nice on a horse with no white and black legs, but looks silly on horses with brown legs or socks. Stick to clear polish on those horses. Some people prefer to use oil when the horse goes in the ring, but this tends to be sticky and the dirt quickly dulls the hoof.
If you use hoof polish, be sure to apply a moisturizer to the hoof after the show. The polish can dry the hoof out. If you show a lot, you might want to avoid using polish at every show, reserving it for the bigger events.
For horses with white socks and stockings, it can be next to impossible to get them clean. A quick trick is to buy corn starch and rub it into the whites before the show. The corn starch will make the whites glow, and any excess will quickly be shaken off as the horse takes a few steps. Be sure that any polish is fully dry before adding corn starch, or it will stick.
Clipping off the whiskers on the muzzle really tidies the face. Nothing makes a horse look like a nag more quickly than a shaggy muzzle. You can use scissors to trim the hair around the ears too, but avoid clipping them out if you can, as the hair inside the ears is important for protection against flies.
If you like the sleek, shiny look on the face, try using Brilcream instead of baby oil. This wonderful men’s hair product creates a natural shine that sets off your horse without making him look oily. It only takes a little bit to add polish to your horse’s face.
Finally, if your horse has scars that shine, or otherwise look unpleasant, try using a bit of shoe polish to cover them up. This will blend them in, while still looking natural.