Horse Show Grooming Fails, and How to Recover – Presented by Wahl

By Liv Gude of Professional Equine Grooms, special contributor to Heels Down Magazine

Some common horse show grooming #fails will leave most people panicked, but have no fear. Having a plan can save you in a quick moment’s notice.

FAIL: Your horse’s lower legs are covered in mud splatters.

Prevent: Use a shine product on your horse’s legs to help stains slide away. Clipping the lower legs ahead of time helps make stains and splatters easier to clean up.

Fix: Wait until dry, then use a stiffer brush to wisk the dried mud away, followed by a hot damp towel to steam off the remaining stain. If you are headed into the ring, wipe off and follow with a dusting of talc powder, cornstarch, or colored grooming spray.

FAIL: Your horse’s braids are coated in shavings, rubbed, and generally a hot mess of hairs poking out everywhere.

Prevent: Test braids at home, and leave them in overnight to see what your horse does! Use a hood to keep braids protected from rubs and shavings. When braiding, add some hairspray or mousse to tame the fly-aways.

Fix: Use a softer body brush to remove the shavings, then use some rubber bands to refold and secure the braids instead of removing all of the yarn. Secure the fly-aways with some hairspray or mousse on your hand.

FAIL: Giant manure stains.

Prevent: Bathe your horse before the show, coat with shine detangling spray, and keep covered in a fly sheet or blanket with belly band, depending on the weather. Curry like a mad person to bring up the natural oils for stain repelling goodness. Bed his sleeping area deeply with clean shavings.

Fix: Curry the stain, then use a barely damp hot steamy towel to steam out the stain. Spritz some no-rinse shampoo and do some more steaming out.

FAIL: Tweaked, lost, sprung horse shoe.

Prevent: Bell boots! Especially if your horse (the perfect angel) gets silly at new places. Schedule the farrier a week or so before shows so that the shoes are new, but not too new, and definitely not at the end of the farrier cycle.

Fix: Most shows have a farrier on site. Wrap the hoof and/or shoe with duct tape and a diaper to meet the farrier. If the shoe is halfway off, twisted, or makes walking dangerous, take a photo for the farrier to see and then make a plan.

Phew! You made it through the first part of the show – now for the warm up ring! What tools do you need and what do you need to do before the “BIG RING”?

Hoof pick with brush – make sure you horse didn’t pick up a stone. Brush off the warm up dirt and reapply hoof shine if you like.

Damp towel and dry towel. For wiping eyes, noses, legs, boots, and sweat.

Water bottle for you!

Rubber bands for rogue braids.

Fly spray.

Shine product (for use after any sweat is wiped off).

Lip balm for you.

Grooming cover up spray to deal with last minute splatters on chrome.

Body brush to spruce up lower legs and any other areas that need a last minute polish.


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