How do professional riders (and of course their amazing grooms!) manage to turn out so many perfectly groomed horses at a competition? Horse presentation is a reflection of overall riding and training so its critical for top riders to ensure their horses are gleaming! Here’s what we learned!
1. It actually doesn’t take that long when the horse is healthy to begin with!
Every rider we spoke to named this as their top tip, and could be the biggest secret out there! When the horse is healthy, fit and regularly groomed, it actually doesn’t take that long to add the extra gleam for competition day. A thoroughly balanced diet full of essential nutrients and quality roughage means the horse has its own healthy ‘glow’ already. Give a thorough bath the day before and a clean set of underrugs and the horses are ready to be prepped for any plaiting or last minute trimming.
2. Get the clippers out!
Subtle trimming around the bridle path, jawline and ears can mean the difference between a yak or a hack! Unless your sport demands it, you can leave whiskers and feathers in place, but by trimming all the flyaway hairs you are able to neaten the whole picture and sharpen the look!
3. Detangling sprays are the best!
Be generous with a good quality, non-greasy detangler and the hairs will almost fall apart. Apply the night before and just brush through on show day.
4. Arm yourself with a set of quality brushes!
The difference between quality brushes and the cheap plastic ones is not just the price. The density of the bristles and the quality of the fibres makes a huge difference to the amount of brushing you have to do. Where a cheap brush might take four or five swipes to really lift the dust, a good quality brush might do it in only two. That makes a huge difference when you’re trying to turn out 6-10 horses for the day!!
5. Elbow grease is ultimately better than any shine spray!
Sadly no amount of shiny spray will replicate a genuinely well groomed horse. When you brush the coat, the horses natural oils are lifted from the skin and worked down each hair fibre. This is what creates the shine. You can finish off with a lightweight, non-greasy shine spray to add that extra 10%, but the grooming will make the most difference.
6. After-ride care is equally important!
It’s no use spending all your effort grooming your horse to perfection prior to riding if you’re not going to do the same afterwards. All sweat and dirt should be thoroughly removed and the horse allowed to dry naturally. This will make your horse significantly more comfortable and less susceptible to skin irritations. It also gives you the chance to check your horse over for any knocks or bumps and will make your next pre-ride grooming much easier!
7. Baby wipes are a last-minute lifesaver!
Baby wipes are another grooming box staple that should be with you at every single show. Not only are they fabulous for giving your boots a quick wipe off before entering the ring, they’re also good for wiping off horse’s eyes or giving them a quick once over to get rid of any dust or dirty patches.
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