Horse showing is a lot like NASCAR. Pre-competition primping starts the night before so that everyone is ready for the inevitable “hurry up and wait” of race day. Pit crews and drivers furiously work from a “war wagon” stocked with preferred tools and products for fine-tuning months and years of hard work.
Riders, too, invest countless hours preparing for a show and, like pit crews, they know the devil is in the details. A well-stocked grooming tote is a fraction of the size of a pit-crew’s “war wagon,” but is as strategically equipped with just the right products to make show prep a breeze.
This guide will serve as a reference for show grooming tips, helpful products, and countdown timeline leading up to the moment your horse is about to walk into the ring. Buckle your seatbelts! Here’s what you need in your grooming arsenal to achieve that shine that gets compliments from judges, trainers and fellow competitors.
The Day Before the Show: Nose to Tail Bath Time
Time to put on the brakes and scrub-a-dub-dub! A nose-to-tail bath removes dirt and grime that can leave a horse’s coat looking dull. First, check the weather to make sure your horse won’t catch a chill. Then thoroughly hose your horse to wet his entire coat before applying shampoo.
The secret to achieving a high-gloss shine is in the shampoo. ShowSheen® 2-In-1 Shampoo & Conditioner deep cleans and conditions hair in one easy step, saving you time without sacrificing shine. Plus, it’s specially designed for your horse’s sensitive skin and leaves the coat, mane and tail as soft as a cozy fleece blanket.
Protect all your hard work with ShowSheen®. Professional grooms never go to a show without it. Showsheen® creates a barrier between your horse’s coat and stain-causing dirt, manure and mud for a faster day-of spot cleaning. A flysheet or light sheet adds an extra layer of coverage for horses who like to roll after a bath.
Six Hours Count Down: Pre-dawn Grooming Touch Ups and Preening
Start warming up your engine! The show may not start until 8 a.m. and your first class may not begin until noon, but there’s plenty of pre-show grooming prep to fill the morning. Horses who like to snuggle into a deep sleep overnight often wake up with isolated manure patches that need cleaning and shavings coating their mane and tail. We've all witnessed this early morning surprise and if you haven't, your time is coming!
Save time by spot cleaning manure stains with ShowSheen® Stain Remover and Whitener. As a bonus, this combo product makes white markings sparkle without having to use harsh cleaners or bluing agents.
Fight your horse’s new shaving bedhead style with ShowSheen® Hair Polish & Detangler. Spritz it on to instantly detangle manes and tails and highlight your horse’s coat color and muscle definition. As an added bonus—it eliminates static under blankets.
T-minus One Hour: Ringside Hoof Touch Ups
You wouldn’t go to a formal event without a pedicure. Your horse shouldn’t step into the pen or ring without one either. SuperShine® Hoof Polish & Sealer comes in clear and black so you can comply with association and discipline rules.
The start line is in sight! Its quick-drying formula means it dries in less than 60 seconds. Stand your horse on a piece of cardboard or a clean, hard surface. With a steady hand paint a straight line at the coronet band. Fill in the remainder of the hoof with polish. Paint the heels and the back of the shoes so that everything is covered. Let the hooves dry. Don’t forget to wear a pair of gloves while handling black hoof polish to prevent it from spilling on your hands and transferring to the horse or tack.
It's Horse Show Time: Focusing with Fly spray and SPF
Nothing ruins a show ring performance faster than annoying insects. Pesky flies distract your horse from the task at hand and detract from an overall polished performance. Before striding through the gate give one last head-to-hoof application of fly spray. With UltraShield’s multiple fly control options, you can adjust your protection depending on weather, insect intensity, and your horse’s activity level.
Now you're ready! Take a deep breath and smile. Judges look for an exhibitor’s confidence along with a high polish shine. When the show is over, celebrate your achievements and set your goals for the next competition. Before turning your horse out to pasture, use Santa Fe horse coat conditioner and sunscreen for a deep conditioning and coat fade protection.
Post Show Grooming Year-Round Care
After your final lap, it’s important to remember that no amount of grooming can substitute for proper nutrition, good horsemanship, a regular deworming program and a health plan with your veterinarian.
A healthy coat naturally glistens while an unhealthy coat will always be dull. Work with your veterinarian to develop a ration to support your horse’s digestive health and to create a deworming schedule suitable for your horse.