As this is my first blog I thought I would start with something that has always been important to me, not only for competition but part of our everyday routine, grooming. As far as everyday grooming goes, it is so important because it helps to build a trusting relationship between you and your horse and gives you time to check your horse for any unusual lumps, bumps or cuts and grazes. On competition day you want your horse looking his best, to show him off to the judges, these are my top tips for grooming for competition day:
- Preparation: make sure that the morning or evening before, you have bathed properly; scrubbing all dirt from areas like knees, quarters, top of tail and shoulders. I use a magic brush with plastic bristles which really brings up any dirt well. Be careful not to put too much product in the mane as this will make it harder to plait. Then once dry put a stable sheet or lycra rug on to flatten the hair. (If cold a stable rug can be worn on top).
- Hot Clothing: On the morning of the show I like to hot cloth. This is where any remaining dirt or dust on the horse is rubbed with the HAAS curry comb to the surface. Then with a bucket, put some HOT water in with some sort of oil (show oil is better than baby oil as it is non greasy and does not attract dust as much.) Then with a tea towel or cloth rub down the dirt left on the surface. This opens pores and is a great alternative to bathing in the winter.
- Mane and Tail: Make sure both are neatly pulled and well brushed before plaiting. With plaiting the mane I like to have it damp to provide a bit more grip. Start at the top and work your way down. If your horses mane falls to the left, try and train it at home to fall on the right side by plaiting down and leaving for a few days. Use bands or thread to secure plaits. You can adjust the type of plait for your horse to enhance its’ features for example short neck can be made to look longer by putting in more plaits, and a weak neck can be enhanced by standing the plaits higher to give the impression of more topline and a rounder shape. Similarly, the mane can be thinned and plaits can be made smaller on a cresty type of horse to make the crest appear smaller.
- Buffing: This is one for when you arrive at your show. Always give yourself plenty of time to groom your horse once you get him/her off the lorry. Get a good show shine spray and always keep it in the lorry, then using a good body brush such as the HAAS Military brush to take off any sweat or dust that has settled on the horse during the journey. Then with your spray and a cloth/sheepskin mitt spray and buff your horses coat all over paying attention to his quarters and neck.
- Finishing touches: I like to use 100% pure coconut oil on his face, around the eyes and muzzle to make him shine, he loves the smell too and it is great for their skin. For the perfect quarter mark use the HAAS Coat Gloss brush. It is fantastic at giving accurate marks and getting every hair in the right place, then use hairspray to secure your marks. Make sure you have oiled or put some balm on their hoofs just to make them look extra smart.
Even with all of these tips, I am still a huge believer in what you put in is what you get out and feeding and exercise is a huge part in helping getting a horse to look his best on competition day. Me and my horse have just started doing British Dressage and are so excited to be an ambassador for Eqclusive. We are off to the Petplan Area Festival in October and the full write up will be in my next blog.