Professional grooms have all learnt over a period of time the knack of transforming their horse's into show-ring superstars but just like anyone else, their expertise comes from plenty of practice.
The good news is we can all brush up on our skills and get a professional look. Paula Bryan who started Clipit Grooming has in her career been successful in riding at top level dressage, and anyone who rides in that discipline will know turnout is key. You cannot go down that centre line without everything being in place, so here are her suggestions for top turnout.
The key to keeping your horse looking his very best is to stay on top of grooming and trimming, paying attention to his diet and practising your plaiting skills whenever you get a moment. That way, when a competition day does arrive, you'll already have a clean, smart horse and all the skills you need to add the finishing touches and wow the judge.
Rather than giving him a quick flick over with a brush, take time to give him a proper groom each day - especially after he's been out to graze. Use a body brush in long, sweeping movements and clean it out frequently with a metal curry comb in between brushing. When you have finished grooming, add a small amount of baby oil to some hot water and dunk a towel into the solution. Wring the towel out, and allow it to cool slightly and then wipe it over the horse's coat. This will remove any remaining dust and will help to give him a great shine.
A shiny coat and animal well being comes from the inside, so what you feed your horse will make a big difference.
If you have a "grey", turning him out to perfection is going to take a bit more work and time. However with a great offering of whitening shampoos in the marketplace, you are sure to find one that does the trick in removing stains. One of my horse's use to produce a lot of saliva, so I would always have a handy packet of baby wipes at hand. I found these particularly effective for a last minute touch-up before entering the dressage ring, Paula says.
Tidy Mane Mane pulling is best done after exercising, as the pores are open and the mane is easier to pull. Instead of doing the whole mane in one go, do a little at a time, after each ride. This makes the process more comfortable for your horse. Using a metal mane comb, take a small section of hair and brush it upwards against the direction of growth, until you have a small amount in your hand. Wrap the hair around the mane and with a short, sharp tug pull the hair out. Repeat until the mane is at the length you want.
Tail Tidy I would pull my horse's tail said Paula, to enhance the shape of my horse's bottom. I would start to pull the tail, beginning at the top of the dock, taking a small amount of hair from one side. Backcomb it towards the dock, then wrap a small amount of hair around the comb and pull it out. When I had finished, I would apply a tail bandage to keep the hairs lying smoothly.
Trimming Keep on top of your trimming can completely transform your horse's appearance. Here are Paula's tips for a professional look.
Tail: A neatly trimmed tail will have a straight bottom edge. Always remember a horse carries it's tail naturally higher when ridden, so bear this in mind when trimming the length.
Facial hair: From July 2021, it is not permitted by the FEI to shave the hair off and around the nostrils. Ear hair can be trimmed by closing the sides of the ear together with one hand and running the clippers downwards towards the horse's head. Take care not to remove the hair inside the ear as this offer's protection against biting insects.
Legs: Hair from the back of the fetlocks can be removed for a neater look. Always use the clippers with the direction of hair growth. You can also trim around the top of the coronary band to give a clean neat finish.
To shop for products that relate to this article, please click here.