Late nights and rushed mornings before a show are less than ideal when you and your horse want to perform at your best. Be perfectly prepared when you step into the ring by getting ready well in advance.
Leading up to the Show
A shiny summer coat starts from the inside out by your horse having a good diet. Feed should be appropriate for their workload, as well as their type i.e. good doer or not.
Once your horse has a lovely shine to their coat, keep it that way by protecting it from the sun. A fly rug not only protects them from irritating bugs but many offer UV protection to prevent sun bleaching. This is especially key after the horse has been washed off after exercise or had a bath as a wet coat is more prone to bleaching by the sun.
Check your tack is in good condition and repair or replace anything that may have deteriorated over the winter.
Now is also a good time to dig out your own show outfit so you’re not hurriedly searching for your stock before leaving for the event, and to check everything still fits well if it hasn’t been worn since last summer!
Washing your horse a few days before the show is a good idea so that some of the natural oils can be replaced before show day for ultimate shine. It also means the mane won’t be too slippery to plait.
The Day Before
If your horse is likely to be a bit excitable at the show, you may want to take them for a slightly longer or faster ride to use up some excess energy! Or, if you need to conserve power, a gentle hack to stretch their legs may be enough. Do what’s best for your individual horse’s needs.
After riding, give your horse a good groom and wash any stains – hopefully they are still fairly clean from when you bathed them a few days ago. Now is the time to wash the tail, as well as any white socks so they’re gleaming.
If you have an early start time, plaiting the night before will save vital minutes. Before you start plaiting, divide the mane into an odd number of sections so it totals an even number including the forelock (if you’re being traditional!). Pop a plaiting band on a mane comb and use this to help divide the mane into even sections.
Plaiting bands are a quick and easy way to secure your plaits but sewing them in with thread gives a more professional, secure plait. You can also improve the appearance of your horse’s topline with the position of the plaits. Plaits placed on the top of the neck give the appearance of a more developed topline.
Consider using a lightweight rug overnight to prevent any stains ruining all your hard work. A stretch rug is ideal for keeping your horse clean and plaits in place.
Give your tack a good clean and then store it away to keep it free of dust and dirt. Padded luggage bags can keep everything from your saddle and bridle, to your hat and boots protected.
Make sure you know where you’re headed the next day and work back from the start time of your first class to allocate enough time for getting to the venue, collecting your number/signing in, tacking up and warming up before it’s your time to shine.
Check all your plaits are still in place if you’ve done them the night before. Make sure to pack your plaiting kit in case of any last-minute emergencies at the show ground!
Wearing some old clothes or overalls over your show outfit will keep it clean and provide a quick change just before your class.
Before going in, apply some hoof oil and polish the coat with a grooming mitt.
Best of luck!