40 Tips for Taking Care of Your Horse
With these tips on caring for your horse, you can make your horse look like a million dollar show horse.
The popular saying: “For the first impression you get no second chance” is very true when it comes to presenting your horse at a horse show. Whether you are showing in hand or under saddle, it’s about the moment you step into the ring. This is the moment you have the undivided attention of the judge and he makes his first impression of you. When you enter the ring the first thing the judge will notice is the overall impression of your horse and your presentation. This is your best chance to impress the judges.
Many horse owners devote a significant amount of time training, practicing, and perfecting their horse’s training. The appearance of the horse often falls to the wayside. The presentation of the horse is as important as the performance.
“The condition of the horse plays a big role in the overall picture, since it doesn’t matter which class the horse is in,” said Richard Petty from Santa Barbara, CA, who has been judging horses since 1978. "A rider and a horse with a good appearance is what catches the judge’s eye first. We can tell when a horse owner is proud of his work, it shows in the presentation of his horse", says Petty.
Petty describes a horse should be “clean, shaved, and thoroughly maintained.” He goes on to say “you will be surprised how many horses come to the demonstration ring that still have chips in their tails or where there is still poop stains on the fur.”
It takes some time to make your horse show ring ready. The care for your horse should happen long before the show takes place. It is as much of a daily routine as feeding is. Regular maintenance is not just for show-horses, but also for every horse.
Here are 40 tips on how you can prepare your horse to make a great first impression:
- 1. Invest in quality brushes and keep them clean. One cannot achieve a thorough result when you brush your horse with dirty or dusty accessories. In addition, you will keep your accessories even longer if you continue to maintain them.
- 2. To avoid fungal infections, each horse should have its own range of brushes.
- 3. Brush your horse everyday. The more you brush, the more you distribute natural sebum evenly over the hair. When it comes to brushes, nothing beats good old-fashioned elbow grease.
- 4. Select the brush depending on the season. Winter brushes tend to be stiff and actually help in removing excess skin and dandruff. Summer brushes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Choose a small, soft brush for the face, or a larger one for the body.
- 5. Brush the hair in the direction of which the hair grows.
- 6. It is important to always pick out your horse’s feet with a hoof pick. Not only when you prepare your horse for riding but every day.
- 7. Treat your horse’s hooves with a hoof polish that has a lanolin base. Apply one per week to keep your horse’s hooves in good condition.
- 8. Some horses tend to be ticklish when brushing if they have sensitive skin. Make sure to take extra caution around these areas.
- 9. When brushing the mane and tail, you should start from at the ends and work your way up. If you are trying to get the mane and tail to grow you shouldn’t brush it every day. Instead, only pick out shavings and untangle the hair with your hands to avoid breaking the hair and preventing growth.
- 10. Grooming mittens are ideal for wiping dust from your horse’s coat and to apply bug spray.
- 11. If the mane and tail are stubborn to untangle due to knots you should use a detangler to help with brushing out their mane and tail.
- 12. To stimulate hair growth, massage the tail root of your horse daily with a body brush. This will loosen and remove dirt and dander that may cause your horse to itch his tail.
- 13. When washing your horse you should use a washing sponge in order to absorb more water.
- 14. Wash your horse thoroughly with shampoo. For added safety, always work from front to back, and top to bottom when washing your horse.
- 15. When washing your horse it is easiest to spray the shampoo off, with the stream of water going away from your horse’s face so that you don’t accidently get it in his eyes.
- 16. Put a cooler on your horse if it is a slightly chilly day. This will help them not cool down too quickly in colder temperatures.
- 17. Do not forget to wash under the tail and between the hind legs.
- 18. After the bath, you can apply a sheen on your horse’s coat to keep it looking shiny and healthy.
- 19. If you are going to body clip your horse before a show, you should do this at least one to two weeks in advance. When you first body clip your horse, his coat will look dull and might have lines from the blades. By allowing some time, you can have your horse get back his natural shine and allow the lines to grow out.
- 20. Wash your horse before you body clip. Dirt in the fur makes the blades dull and will not give a clean cut.
- 21. Use a clean, sharp blade for the best results.
- 22. As you clip your horse, regularly check the blade to make sure it’s not overheating. When the blade has heated up, make sure to take a break and spray them with a coolant.
- 23. After you body clip your horse, make sure to give him another bath. This will get rid of all the excess hair that might not have been brushed away.
The Finishing Touches:
- 24. If you use oil on your horse’s face, you should use it sparingly. Make sure that it looks natural and not greasy.
- 25. Use baby powder, cornstarch, or white chalk to cover up any spots that may have surfaced.
- 26. Keep a tail wrap ready if you braid your horse’s tail to keep him from rubbing the braid out.
- 27. Fill the nail holes in the hoof with filler that matches the hoof color.
- 28. To give your horse’s hooves a glossy look, you can finish it off with a hoof polish.
- 29. Always, use a corresponding mane comb for whatever you are trying to accomplish. Whether it’s trying to pull the mane, thin the mane, or just comb the mane.
- 30. You should brush your horse’s mane after you exercise him. This allows removing excess dirt and dandruff since the pores are open.
- 31. If you have braided your horse for a show or to train his mane over, once you remove the braids you can use water to help take out the wave created by the braids.
- 32. Use a little baby powder to hide any blemishes you may find while preparing for a show.
- 33. Wipe the inside of your horse’s ear with a damp cloth to remove any dirt or debris.
- 34. For a sparkling shine, you can also apply a body sheen to help enhance the horse’s coat. Make sure to not spray it where your saddle lays to avoid slipping.
- 35. You can also apply the sheen to the mane and tail to help detangle them and give an added shine.
- 36. Always make sure to dust off your boots and polish them before entering the ring with a boot polishing kit.
- 37. For last minute manure stains, make sure to clean them off with a little rubbing alcohol before entering the ring.
- 38. It’s important to have glistening tack and a good appearance before entering the show ring.
- 39. Always bring a rag to the ring to wipe your horse’s face and your boots.
- 40. Most importantly remember to smile and have a good time!