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HomeShow Grooming



40 Horse Grooming Tips

Make your horse look like a million dollar show horse, with these grooming tips.

The popular saying, “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression,” is very true when it comes to showing your horse. Whether you are showing in halter or under saddle, your entrance into the arena is the moment that the judge gives you his undivided attention to make his initial assessment. When you come into the ring, the first thing the judge will notice is your horse’s overall appearance and presentation. This is your best chance to wow the judge.

Many exhibitors devote a significant amount of time to training, practicing and perfecting their horse’s performance, only to short-change themselves with a poorly turned-out horse. The presentation of the horse is every bit as important as the performance.

“Grooming plays a big part in overall eye appeal to me, no matter what the class is,” says Richard Petty of Santa Barbara, CA, who has been judging since 1978. “A well turned-out rider and horse is what a horse show is all about,” Petty says. “You can tell when an exhibitor is proud of the job they are doing in presenting their horse.”

Petty describes an appropriately groomed horse as one that is clean, clipped and thoroughly groomed. “You would be surprised at how many horses still come into the show ring with shavings in their tails or manure stains on their coats,” says Petty.

Getting a horse ready for the show ring is not something that can be done in a few minutes, right before the gate opens. Grooming for the show ring should begin long before show day. It is as much a part of a horse’s everyday routine as is feeding. A regular grooming regiment isn’t just for show horses. It’s for every horse.

Grooming:

Invest in quality horse grooming brushes and keep them clean. You can’t do a thorough job grooming your horse with dirty or dusty brushes. Plus, keeping them clean will help them last longer.

To avoid fungal infections, don’t use your brushes on other horses. Curry your horse every day. The more you curry, the more you bring the oils in the skin to the surface. When it comes to currying, there is no substitute for good old-fashioned elbow grease.

Select curries according to the season. Winter curries are actually shedding blades that aid in removing hair as your horse sheds. Summer curries are round rubber brushes that come in a variety of sizes and styles. Choose a small, soft curry brush for the face and a larger one for the body.

Brush the hair in the direction the hair grows.

Don’t neglect your horse’s hooves. They should be picked out daily, not just when you are getting ready to ride.

Treat your horse’s feet to a lanolin-based hoof conditioner at least once a week to keep his hooves conditioned.

Know where your horse’s ticklish spots are and be extra gentle around those areas. When brushing the mane and tail, start at the ends and work your way up. If you want your horse’s mane and tail to grow out, don’t comb it every day. Instead, just pick out any tangles, shavings or twigs.

Grooming mitts are great for wiping dust off your horse and for applying fly spray. If your horse’s mane or tail gets a stubborn knot in it, don’t cut or pull the knot out. Use Cowboy Magic® Detangler & Shine to soften the knot, and then carefully detangle the hairs with your fingers.

To stimulate growth, brush the dock of your horse’s tail daily with a dandy brush. This will loosen and remove the dirt and dander that makes your horse itchy. Brushing the dock and upper part of the tail bone also increases blood flow, which stimulates growth.

Bathing:

When bathing your horse, use soft sponges, as they hold more water. Use the best horse shampoo. Bathe your horse thoroughly with Cowboy Magic® Rosewater Shampoo, working on one section at a time, from the front of the horse to the back, and from the top of the horse to the bottom.

When hosing your horse, direct the stream of water from the front to the back so that you don’t accidentally squirt him in the face.

Place a cooler on a just-bathed horse to reduce the chill.

Don’t forget to wash underneath his tail and between his back legs.

If it’s too cold to bathe your horse, sponge off his neck, face, saddle and girth area with warm water to remove any sweat.

Clean your gelding’s sheath or your mare’s udder when needed.

To remove the minerals from your horse’s coat, use Cowboy Magic® Rosewater Conditioner, which is formulated specifically for removing hard water mineral deposits and buildup from your horse’s main, tail and coat.

Clipping:

If you are going to body clip your horse for a show, do it a week or two before the show. Body clipping makes the coat dull for awhile, and you want to give it time to get its natural shine back.

Bathe your horse before you clip him, as dirt in your horse’s coat will dull your clipper blades and you won’t get a close, even clip.

Use clean sharp clipper blades and make sure your clippers are in good working order to ensure the best results.

As you clip, check the blades frequently to make sure they aren’t getting hot. If they do heat up, let them cool or spray them with a cooling lubricant.

Thoroughly condition your horse’s coat and skin after clipping with Cowboy Magic® Rosewater Conditioner, as clipping takes all of the oils out of the hair. Showing:

If you use oil and highlighter on your horse’s face for a show, use it sparingly, and make sure it looks natural and blended. You want to avoid the greasy look. Use baby powder, corn starch or French chalk on white socks to brighten them. Keep cling-free dryer sheets on hand. You can run them through your horse’s mane or tail to reduce static electricity.

Fill nail holes in your horse’s hooves with a spackling compound that matches his hoof color.

To polish his feet, use a wax-based shoe polish. This will protect the hoof from the drying affect of hoof lacquer.

If you pull your horse’s mane, use a pulling comb to make the job easier. Pull your horse’s mane after you ride, as the pores will be open, making the hair easier to remove.

Use Listerine to desensitize areas to be pulled. Rub a little onto the base of the mane before you begin pulling the hair and when you are finished to ease the itch. Use a bit of baby powder on the inside front of your horse’s blanket to help cut down on rubbing.

Wipe the inside of your horse’s ears with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or debris. To get that sparkling shine, spray Cowboy Magic® Super Bodyshine® on your horse’s clean coat. Using your hands, slick the hair with quick, light strokes. Let the hair dry for a few seconds and then use a clean, dry towel or soft brush to polish the hair.

For a shiny mane and tail, spray Super Bodyshine® spray onto clean hair, let it dry and then use a soft brush to smooth the hair and bring out the shine. For a quick touch-up and to remove any dust, spray a small amount of Super Bodyshine® onto a clean towel and wipe down your horse. For a quick clean-up of a dirt or manure stain, use Cowboy Magic® Greenspot® Remover. Remember to smile and have a good time!

So gather up your horse grooming tools and products and enjoy some bonding time with your horse!
 
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Grooming: Keep Your Gray Horse Gleaming

Linda Murat, who groomed former Olympic silver-medal jumper Gem Twist, shares her method for keeping gray horses show-ring spotless. From Practical Horseman magazine.

By Linda Murat

Occasional preshow baths aren't enough to prevent a gray horse from yellowing-and if he does yellow, clipping is the only way to remove the stain. To make sure your horse never reaches that state, you need a daily routine for basic cleanliness and a weekly (or at most biweekly) bath and touch-up system that stops stains from setting.

You'll need:

Regular grooming tools-sponge, sweat scraper, currycomb, soft brush, towel (and a vacuum cleaner if you have one: great for initial stain removal on grays)

Mild liquid soap: store-brand baby shampoo-inexpensive, not harsh, and does a good job of basic cleaning-or Ivory Liquid dish soap

Moderately stiff scrub brush (I like one called Flex-Scrub, which curves to the contours of the area being scrubbed; costs about $2 at grocery stores)

Orvus paste shampoo (expensive, but does a thorough cleaning job on any color of horse)

Quic Silver for at-home stain removal and extra shine before shows (also expensive, and needs care in application, but the most effective product I've found for making gray coats shine)

ShowSheen as a finishing touch for the tail.

Daily Routine

To minimize the amount of stain removal you have to do and the energy you have to expend, pick up your horse's stall frequently (the less manure in his bedding, the fewer manure stains he'll have), and check for grass stains when he comes in from turnout (the longer they set, the harder they are to remove).

Groom your horse daily with currycomb and brush, finishing off with the towel.

As you curry, use extra elbow grease (or your vacuum) on any manure, mud or grass stains you find. Especially if his coat is toward the darker end of the "gray" range, that may be enough to get most stains out. But if, after currying, he still has a stain or two, what you do next depends on whether you've bathed him within the last couple of weeks.

If you have bathed your horse recently and he's still clean, put warm water on the stain, apply about a teaspoonful of baby shampoo (more if the stain is large), scrub the area with your scrub brush (back and forth on the body, up and down on legs), and rinse. But if he's dirty or hasn't been bathed in a while, such spot-cleaning will leave him looking streaky; instead, you'll need to work on the stain as part of a full bath.

Cold-weather modification: Substitute hot toweling for spot cleaning.

Weekly/Biweekly Routine Ideally, you should bathe your gray horse with baby shampoo or other mild soap at least every other week, following the procedure described below. But if your barn is cold, your water is cold, you don't have bucket heaters, and you can't bring yourself to do a full bath that frequently, at least shampoo the spots where stains tend to build up and set: hocks, elbows and tails on most horses. Be careful to scrub the tail all the way down to the roots of the hairs-because when you braid, any lingering dirt will be obvious.

If a stain won't come out, or if the tail doesn't look really white when you've finished shampooing, apply Quic Silver full-strength and leave on for two to three minutes. Two to three minutes is plenty for removing most stains; with a really stubborn stain you can go to four or five, but I wouldn't leave it on any longer.)

Cold-weather modification: In the very coldest weather, your horse may object strongly to your washing the base of his tail, in that case, concentrate on his legs and the bottom of the tail, where most stains tend to happen.

Regular Bathing

Wet your horse's whole body with warm water. Put about half a cup of baby shampoo in a full-size bucket and fill with warm water; then sponge the liquid on and lather his whole body. Use the scrub brush to remove ground-in dirt-and don't forget his ears and the base of the mane, both places where dirt builds up, and where left-on dirt will really stand out against a sparkling white coat. (To clean the ears, wet them first with the sponge; then apply a small amount of shampoo to the outsides with your hands and scrub with your fingers. Be careful not to get any water inside the ears when you rinse.)

Rinse your whole horse thoroughly-if you let the shampoo dry on his coat, he'll look dull instead of shiny. Treat any stains that haven't come out with Quic Silver; apply full-strength, rub in, leave on for two to three minutes, and then rinse off.

If your horse has dry skin, after you've rinsed him off put a few drops of bath oil in a bucket of water and sponge that solution over him. (Just a few drops; don't overdo. An oily coat attracts dust.)

Cold-weather modification: Take advantage of any unseasonably warm days to bathe your horse. If you must bathe him on a colder day, wash just one area at a time. Start with the legs, tail and hindquarters; when they're finished, cover the quarters with a cooler. Next do the neck and mane, and finally the midsection (the most important part to guard from getting chilled); when you're finished there, cover his whole body with several dry coolers and walk him to help his body temperature stay up.

Pre-Show Preparation

The two-bath routine I use is a modification of my regular bathing technique. (If you're not bathing your gray horse regularly in cold weather, I suggest you do this variation a week before any show he may be going to, so that you get out most of the built-up dirt, and again on the day of the show.)

First, I apply Quic Silver to the legs. I rub the Quic Silver full-strength into all four legs, scrub each for about thirty seconds, and then rinse all four. The whole process takes less than three minutes.

Next I wet the whole body with water and scrub with Orvus paste shampoo, which gets out dirt better than anything else I've used. After I've rinsed out this first shampoo, I put Quic Silver full-strength on any stains still remaining. Then I pour about half a cup of Quic Silver into a bucket of warm water, making a slightly sudsy solution; I sponge this over his whole body, leave on for a minute or two, and then rinse very thoroughly. (I'm especially careful about rinsing the mane if I'm going to braid it -- soapy manes are very slippery.)

As a final touch, after the horse is dry, I use ShowSheen on his tail. It works a little like floor wax, helping to keep dust from settling on those clean tail hairs. If the tail doesn't get braided, I comb the ShowSheen through the whole tail; with a braided tail, I just use it below the braid.

Daily Routine

To minimize the amount of stain removal you have to do and the energy you have to expend, pick up your horse's stall frequently (the less manure in his bedding, the fewer manure stains he'll have), and check for grass stains when he comes in from turnout (the longer they set, the harder they are to remove).

Groom your horse daily with currycomb and brush, finishing off with the towel.

As you curry, use extra elbow grease (or your vacuum) on any manure, mud or grass stains you find. Especially if his coat is toward the darker end of the "gray" range, that may be enough to get most stains out. But if, after currying, he still has a stain or two, what you do next depends on whether you've bathed him within the last couple of weeks.

If you have bathed your horse recently and he's still clean, put warm water on the stain, apply about a teaspoonful of baby shampoo (more if the stain is large), scrub the area with your scrub brush (back and forth on the body, up and down on legs), and rinse. But if he's dirty or hasn't been bathed in a while, such spot-cleaning will leave him looking streaky; instead, you'll need to work on the stain as part of a full bath.

Cold-weather modification: Substitute hot toweling for spot cleaning.

Weekly/Biweekly Routine

Ideally, you should bathe your gray horse with baby shampoo or other mild soap at least every other week, following the procedure described below. But if your barn is cold, your water is cold, you don't have bucket heaters, and you can't bring yourself to do a full bath that frequently, at least shampoo the spots where stains tend to build up and set: hocks, elbows and tails on most horses. Be careful to scrub the tail all the way down to the roots of the hairs-because when you braid, any lingering dirt will be obvious.

If a stain won't come out, or if the tail doesn't look really white when you've finished shampooing, apply Quic Silver full-strength and leave on for two to three minutes. Two to three minutes is plenty for removing most stains; with a really stubborn stain you can go to four or five, but I wouldn't leave it on any longer.)

Cold-weather modification: In the very coldest weather, your horse may object strongly to your washing the base of his tail, in that case, concentrate on his legs and the bottom of the tail, where most stains tend to happen.

Regular Bathing

Wet your horse's whole body with warm water. Put about half a cup of baby shampoo in a full-size bucket and fill with warm water; then sponge the liquid on and lather his whole body. Use the scrub brush to remove ground-in dirt-and don't forget his ears and the base of the mane, both places where dirt builds up, and where left-on dirt will really stand out against a sparkling white coat. (To clean the ears, wet them first with the sponge; then apply a small amount of shampoo to the outsides with your hands and scrub with your fingers. Be careful not to get any water inside the ears when you rinse.)

Rinse your whole horse thoroughly-if you let the shampoo dry on his coat, he'll look dull instead of shiny. Treat any stains that haven't come out with Quic Silver; apply full-strength, rub in, leave on for two to three minutes, and then rinse off.

If your horse has dry skin, after you've rinsed him off put a few drops of bath oil in a bucket of water and sponge that solution over him. (Just a few drops; don't overdo. An oily coat attracts dust.)

Cold-weather modification: Take advantage of any unseasonably warm days to bathe your horse. If you must bathe him on a colder day, wash just one area at a time. Start with the legs, tail and hindquarters; when they're finished, cover the quarters with a cooler. Next do the neck and mane, and finally the midsection (the most important part to guard from getting chilled); when you're finished there, cover his whole body with several dry coolers and walk him to help his body temperature stay up.

Pre-Show Preparation

The two-bath routine I use is a modification of my regular bathing technique. (If you're not bathing your gray horse regularly in cold weather, I suggest you do this variation a week before any show he may be going to, so that you get out most of the built-up dirt, and again on the day of the show.)

First, I apply Quic Silver to the legs. I rub the Quic Silver full-strength into all four legs, scrub each for about thirty seconds, and then rinse all four. The whole process takes less than three minutes.

Next I wet the whole body with water and scrub with Orvus paste shampoo, which gets out dirt better than anything else I've used. After I've rinsed out this first shampoo, I put Quic Silver full-strength on any stains still remaining. Then I pour about half a cup of Quic Silver into a bucket of warm water, making a slightly sudsy solution; I sponge this over his whole body, leave on for a minute or two, and then rinse very thoroughly. (I'm especially careful about rinsing the mane if I'm going to braid it -- soapy manes are very slippery.)
As a final touch, after the horse is dry, I use ShowSheen on his tail. It works a little like floor wax, helping to keep dust from settling on those clean tail hairs. If the tail doesn't get braided, I comb the ShowSheen through the whole tail; with a braided tail.
 

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