Keeping your horse looking great is a crucial part of ensuring he is healthy and happy, in addition to making the best impression when he steps into the show ring for the judges. It’s surprisingly common for exhibitors to spend extensive time and energy prepping their horse with training, practicing and polishing the performance, only to take shortcuts when it comes to the horse’s appearance. Don’t make this mistake – stick to a regular cleaning and brushing schedule and your performance horse will always wow whomever he comes in contact with. Follow these guidelines for the best results.
- Start at the Bottom
Using a hoof pick, take out any small objects – such as stones – that are embedded in your horse’s hooves. Gently clean the frog’s crevice and remove any remaining matter material from the sole with your pick tip. Employ a stiff brush and make sure to clear the sole’s entire surface. Check the condition of the shoes and the nails.
- Curry Thoroughly
In order to bring up any excess hair, dirt, and dead skin, as well as attract oils to the surface, curry from front to back with a rubber grooming mitt. This is a great time to check for any scrapes or other injuries your horse may have sustained without your knowledge. Suck up all of the substances you curried with a horse vacuum. (A medium or stiff bristled brush will work as an alternative, but it is not ideal as you might just end up redistributing the material rather than getting rid of it.)
- Brush With a Soft Finishing Brush
For a nice shine, brush your horse all over with this indispensible tool. Horses especially like the way these feel on their faces.
- The Mane and Tail
These are some of the most important parts of your horse’s appearance, so you’ll want to pay careful attention. Apply a conditioner to the tail in order to help with detangling and conditioning. Employ a good quality tail brush and make sure you hold the hair with one hand while you brush with the other – this prevents breakage. As for the mane, keeping it properly pulled is essential. Some horses don’t like this part, but if you learn to do it quickly and efficiently, it can be over without too much hassle.
- Clip Carefully
These areas of the horse need to be trimmed with a pair of well-oiled, sharp clippers: muzzle, ears, bridle path and legs. It’s best to start with the muzzle, proceed to the jawline, followed by the bridle path, and finish with the ears. A size ten blade for the ears is the most typically employed one, but if you want a very close cut, a size 40 is also acceptable. Trim the legs. Check to make sure your clippers aren’t heating up as you go – if they do, either stop until they cool or apply a cooling lubricant.
- Final Steps
Use a fly spray in the summer and a coat conditioner all year long. Add baby oil to the horse’s ears and muzzle for added shine. Apply hoof polish and voila! – your horse is perfectly groomed and happy.