The Finishing Touches

Whether or not you”re showing your horse, you”ll always want him to look his best. The following information discusses ways that you can improve your horse”s appearance with special finishing touches.

Coat

Are you planning to show your horse? Be aware that coat polish is typically used when showing. It repels dust and stains and controls static electricity, so it”s helpful even if you”re not showing your horse. One spritz on a slightly damp rag and a quick rub down on your horse is all it takes. In fact, regular use can actually help speed up the grooming process.

Face

Trimming shaggy hair from under the jaw line and the whiskers from around the muzzle adds definition and a look of refinement to your horse throughout the year. Your horse has hair inside his ears and above his eyes (feelers), and during show season, you may opt to trim them. However, the hair in these areas serves a purpose and should be trimmed only when necessary. Rubbing a damp cloth over the face each time you groom helps to keep your horse looking his best.

Braiding

Braiding the horse”s mane is for decorative purposes only, unless your horse is being shown in competitions where it becomes a necessity. Braiding correctly will give the appearance of a longer or shorter neck, depending on what you”re going for in the competition. Read up on the recommended techniques for braiding the tail for hunters, saddle horses, draft horses and polo horsesthey”re all different.

Graphic example of Pulling: A method to achieve uniform mane length.Pulling the Mane and Tail

Pulling or maintaining the mane and tail is an aesthetic necessity for show horses. Pulling is used for thinning or shortening the tail for show horses because cutting makes the tail appear choppy and bushy. Scissors usually aren”t taken to a horse”s mane or tail unless a choppy look is the desired effect.

Pulling is a technique that shortens a horse”s mane by removing only the long, unwanted hairs. Working with about 1/4 inch sections at a time, hold on to the longest hairs and comb the shorter hairs back. Wrap the long hairs that remain in your hand around the pulling comb and “pull” them out. This results in a natural softer look to the mane or tail.

Some horses are very sensitive to having their manes pulled, while others are not. If you”ve never pulled a mane before, you should have someone with experience show you how.

Clipping Your Horse

Clipping the coat requires a lot of elbow grease and several pieces of equipment, including a currycomb, a shedding blade and a finishing brush. This keeps the coat looking healthy and well groomed. Horses tend to have very sensitive ears, so you may have to condition them to the handling of their ears before clipping.

Paying Attention to Finishing Touches

Little details such as giving special care to your horse”s special markings and features can help turn any equine into a champion. To enhance your horse”s white markings:

  • Use shampoos specially designed for white horses. They contain optical enhancers for maximizing the brilliance of white coats and markings.
  • Put a few drops of bluing in the rinse water, and white markings will “pop.”
  • Clip white socks.