We all know what it’s like to stand on the rail at a horse show and ogle the fine specimens before us. After all a horse show is one of the few places where you cannot only count on seeing impressive performances but also impeccably turned out horses. In fact it doesn’t matter what discipline you participate in – good turnout never goes out of style (and every horse can look like a winner with a solid pre-show grooming routine.) Have you ever wondered what it takes to take your horse from shaggy pasture ornament to red carpet ready? Let me walk you through my deceptively easy, eco-friendly makeover that will turn heads in or out of the ring!
Step 1: Prep-work
You may be surprised to find that the first step in this makeover doesn’t include a hose! I’m all for a good bath, but before I drench my horse I like to do a little leg work first to save myself precious energy (and valuable tail hairs!)
I’ve learned the hard way that if you have dirt, burrs, shavings etc. in your horses mane or tail before you get it wet, there is a good chance it will be there after you get it wet. No one actually likes a “make work” project so why not take some time at the beginning of the makeover to use an intensive detangling treatment? Not only does this rid the mane and tail of the offending parties, but it also saves you the hassle of trying to shampoo dry, tangled hair. Apply De-Stress Intensive Reconstructing & Detangling Treatment from root to tip on the mane, tail and forelock, being sure not to go overboard (this product really packs a punch and a little goes a long way!)
In a perfect world, after I’ve applied the detangling product I would take some time to allow the product to penetrate the hair shaft – this will not only moisturize the hair but also prevent breakage when you are ready to shampoo.
At this stage of the game I would begin carefully finger combing my horses mane and tail, starting with small sections at the base and working my way down. Red carpet worthy manes and tails take hard work and patience! One of my favourite tricks of the trade is to keep a large banana or claw hair clip with me to clip sections of detangled hair out of the way as I make my way through. Now I know! I know! Finger combing can be arduous (especially when your horse has a full, thick tail that forms dreadlocks easily) but resist the temptation to cut corners and rake through your horses’ hair. That’s right ladies…back away from the comb! Absolutely no raking allowed! This is mission critical if you still want to have a tail after you’ve done your makeover. For all you Friends fans out there…“If you feel resistance, pull the Q-tip out!”
In all seriousness though the bottom line is that it can more than a year to replace a full-length tail hair so don’t be hasty! Combs are part of my grooming kit but the only time I run anything through those precious tresses is after I have the lions-share of the tangles and knots out (and even then I tread lightly to avoid breaking any hairs.)
If you are a real keener like myself you may choose to take your pre-show leg work one step further and do the De-Stress Intensive Treatment the day before you plan to begin your makeover. It really does take your horses’ tail from “drabulous to fabulous.” If not, now would be the ideal time to move onto to Step 2. Finally!
Step 2: Time for a trim
It’s important to present your horse at his/her best, which I feel should align with the standard specific to you sport. As far as I’m concerned, there is no need to present a horse that is radically shorn – keep it neat and discreet. Think of trimming your horse as a chance to tidy up – removing the long hairs on the heels, under the jaw line and the tufts of hair that protrude from the ears really goes a long way. You also can’t go wrong with a modest bridle path (some breeds call for longer but just wide enough to allow your bridle to lay flat is standard.) Whether you bang tails or pull manes depends on your discipline but I would like to offer a word of caution: when in doubt keep all excess clipping and trimming to a minimum! If you are naturally inclined to do “just a little bit more” like myself, you know all too well that it can be extremely tempting to get a little scissor happy! I’ve cut my fair share of bowl-cuts and trust me, once you get started there’s no going back. “A little off the top” soon turns into a rat race trying to even out a botched thinning job. Shorter hair does not necessarily equate to being easier to work with. Not only does it end up looking sloppy but can also be particularly difficult to conceal, even if you’re a seasoned braider. Better to leave 4” of thick mane to braid than 2” of thinned out, choppy mane…even the most beautiful horse has hard time rocking the G.I. Jane look.
It is also important to note for those of you who have horses or ponies of Baroque decent (or that participate in Native Breed classes) that you should tread especially lightly through this portion of the makeover. Excessive trimming can spoil the natural beauty of the breed and end up backfiring in the ring.
Stay tuned for part 2 & 3 of our Comprehensive Guide to Make Your Horse Red Carpet Ready!
Naturally yours until next time!
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