Turnout for Show Pony & Show Hunter Pony
There is no point in spending time turning out your pony for a show unless it is a clean pony so ensure that you wash your pony the day before the show to allow its coat to settle.
There are several commercially available shampoos, gloss, detangling and glitter products available and most come with instructions on use. Be sure to follow the instructions on the pack and try a small area first to ensure there isn’t an allergic reaction. Adding a few drops of baby oil to your brush when brushing through the tail when it is clean prevents tangles and white tails from discolouring. For grey pony’s tails, there are also several products available for removing stains.
A plastic safety razor should be used instead of scissors to trim whiskers for safety reasons. A small section of mane behind the ears may be trimmed away to make the bridle headpiece sit better. This also makes putting in the first plait easier. Similarly, the mane can be trimmed at the withers so as not to interfere with the saddle. White socks may also be trimmed out and this can make it easier to keep them white. Trimming the hair around the coronet gives a neat and tidy look to the foot. Feathers on show animals should usually be trimmed out (not applicable to M&Ms).
Pulling the tail is preferred to shaving the sides of the pony’s tail. This is easier to do when the pores are more open after exercise. To trim the length of a pony’s tail ask a friend to help by placing their arm underneath the ponies dock then run your hand down the length of the tail and trim to a length level with the pony’s chestnuts. A Hunter Pony tail may be slightly shorter.
The way in which you plait can do a lot to improve the appearance of your pony. Small neat plaits on show ponies can make a “thick” neck look better proportioned whilst fewer larger plaits built up along the crest can make a long thin neck appear to have more muscle. For the best effect, plaits should be stitched in but, for convenience, plaiting bands may also be used. Hair gel may also be used to prevent any stray hairs in the plaits.
The plaits should usually be odd in number 7, 9, or 11 along the neck, thus making an even number with the forelock.
Used correctly these can improve quarters. Chequer board patterns for show ponies should have the top line of squares parallel to the ground and not the pony’s quarters.
“Block” type squares/rectangles are more suitable for Show and Working Hunter Ponies. “Sharks teeth” can be used on the flanks and can make a weak second thigh look stronger. Vertical brush marks either side of the tail make the quarters look stronger and symmetrical when standing from behind, if done correctly. It is easier to create the quarter marks when the coat has been wet and combed against the lie of the hair.
Hoof oil should be used on your pony’s hooves to complete the overall picture. Chalk can be used on white markings. Baby oil, or other commercially available gel, may be used around the eyes, muzzle and beneath the pony’s tail enhances to enhance the appearance. Don’t forget to use plenty of fly spray on warm summer days or where the show grounds are near a river.
Finally, a clean, well presented pony deserves clean well-fitting tack to enhance the overall appearance. Browbands should be the correct size, not too loose and not too flashy, on show ponies. If necessary, a deeper noseband can improve a “plain” head. Numnahs (which should be fine sheepskin) and saddles should be well fitting for both the pony and rider.