Grooming and Turnout for Event Horses

Grooming and Turnout for Event Horses

Super smart presentation is key for making a good first impression at any level, whether coming down the centre line, leaving the start box, or preparing for the show jump phase.

By presenting yourself and your horse to best advantage, this not only boosts confidence levels, but getting on board a beautifully turned-out horse is something to feel very proud about too.   If the beginning of the day goes smoothly, then hopefully the rest of the day will be enjoyable too!

Attention to detail is the key to success, leave no stone unturned.  When so much time and patience has gone into training, health and well-being, competition grooming preparation should be on the list too! 

If you need to up your game in certain areas to get the professional look, spend time watching the pro grooms, and ask for tips and help when you can.

Competition turnout can be managed more quickly and efficiently on competition day if there has been a regular daily grooming routine in place beforehand. Here are a few pointers to help with perfecting the final finish.

  • The week before, ensure the horse has been trimmed up, tail tidied and cut to the correct length with a nice straight finish as well as the mane thinned and tidied to make plaiting up as easy as possible.
  • After exercise, wash off with a good conditioning shampoo, massaging in well to shift any excess grease and loose hair.
  • Hot clothing is a great technique to use to give a final buff and shine and helps to relax tired muscles as well as stimulate the blood supply ensuring a high shine finish. If this is done twice a week as part of the grooming programme, you will see a huge difference in the condition and shine as well as being enjoyable and relaxing for your horse.   (See our Blog for more details on this technique.)
  • For white and light-coloured horses that require extra cleaning; soap and water is not always enough. Invest in a stain remover spray to get rid of the more stubborn marks.  Keep this to hand in your competition grooming kit for last minute spray and wipe offs on the day.
  • Rug up with a light cotton rug with neck cover, under the usual stable rug.
  • Pack a separate competition grooming/turnout kit and keep specifically for events.
  • Always include at least two hand towels – handy for wipe overs for both horse and rider and for any emergency needs.
  • Folding steps or block for standing on for plaiting and unplaiting.
  • Plaiting Apron – game changer when you have everything handy and in one place.
  • Quick unpick – makes unplaiting so much quicker with less mane being cut!
  • Plaiting Wax for keeping unruly and flyaway manes under control when plaiting.
  • Coat conditioning spray and fleece mitt – the mitt is perfect for giving a quick buff over and shine.
  • Apply tail detangler the day before to make a quick brush through on the day quick and easy.
  • Hoof oil – use a more solid type to ensure no waste or spillage.
  • For washing off, try a wash off lotion that has witch hazel and essential oils, this will help with cooling and bruising.

If you are using a new brand or product range, check they conform to FEI requirements and ensure you patch test and use well before your first event just in case there are any reactions.

Quote from Amy Ferris – Head Girl to Mike and Emma Winter at Wayfarer Eventing.

“To get white socks extra white, we use the Leg and Body Whitening powder – just sponge the powder onto wet legs after washing.  Leave to dry and brush off.”

“Make sure the grooming kit is clean so that dirty brushes are not re-used on clean coats. Either keep a set of brushes specifically for using on competition days, or ensure the everyday set is washed and clean.”

Quote from Becca Nicholson, Head Girl to Brazilian rider, Marcio Jorge  

“Apply a good quality tail detangler to a freshly washed tail and brush through carefully.  This will make it really quick to brush through on the competition morning”.

Plaiting wax is a game changer.. again easy and quick to use and helps keep the flyway’s down for a smooth finish”


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