This is something that has been requested a lot so here we go:
- Bathing - Show prep and Showing - our way!
When bathing a traditional I always find it easier to start at the Head working down to the Hoof.
Soak the mane & tail applying your favourite shampoo to the roots, work up a lather to cover the rest of the hair applying to the lengths of the hair - avoid using a scrubbing action against the hair, this will cause knotting and breakage. Leave to soak for 5 - 10 mins while you wet the body of your horse.
If you are bathing from a bucket use a jug to pour water over the horse. If you are using a horse shower you’ve obviously bathed a traditional cob before and know just HOW many bucket refills it takes!
Warm water is always best, not only does it help lift the stains and grease but it makes bathing an enjoyable experience for your horse.
Shampoo the body of the horse paying extra attention to any 'poo' patches, scrub with a brush in a circular motion to lift what you can and leave to soak.
Start on the legs, from knee to hoof. There are two methods to choose from:
1) Put your favourite shampoo directly onto the leg and work it in paying extra attention to the roots and heel OR
2) Put your favourite shampoo into a bucket and put the horses leg in there to soak. Personally I prefer the first option, I know then that I’ve felt all through the feather checking for any bumps, scabs or dry spots.
Sponge over the horses face being careful around the eyes.
Rinse the mane, tail, body & legs. Pay extra attention to ensuring products are well rinsed from mane, tail and feather. Leaving a product on can cause irritation and the urge to rub, looking that precious hair!
Once rinsed used a sweat scraper to get the majority of the water off the coat & towel dry the mane tail and feather - again no scrubbing!
Now is the time to put your drying rug on your horse, I like to put a towel over the mane & neck underneath the rug to help wick the moisture away.
There are a couple options with the feather at this point, the good old fashioned way to do it (most common) is to use Woodflour - sometimes mixed with talc or chalk for whitening effect. Woodflour is a very fine sawdust type product which is applied to the legs to help dry the hair and skin of a feathered horse. It is also good for fluffing up legs and drying hair quickly after a last minute touch up wash. To apply either grab handfuls and rub in to the hair or put your horses leg in a bucket of Woodflour & fluff up. Leave on the legs whilst they dry and brush out later. It goes everywhere, so don’t wear anything you love and be warned your yard will look like its snowed!!
Ideally this wants washing out after the show as it can irritate the skin, I much prefer to blow dry the feather leaving it smooth and silky rather than dried out.
Next is your mane and tail, I like to sort the tail first before they make a mess of themselves again! You can leave the tail to dry in the sun or use a hair dryer to dry the hair on a cool warm setting - your horse will not appreciate a hot blast on its bum! You must make sure the dock is dry and the hair around it especially before plaiting or adding any non-breathable neoprene type tail guards or synthetic bandages!
Once the tail is dry gently brush through in sections and begin plaiting starting approximately 2” from the tail bone starting loosely so there is no pressure or pulling to the skin. Increase the pressure as you work your way down the hair and tie off with a human hair band - not a rubber band and if you can actually find a plaiting band that doesn’t snap at the thought of going on a traditional cobs tail - don’t use that either! They pull, get stuck and are generally not nice, you wouldn’t use it on your own hair.
Next step apply your Trophy Tails Ultimate Tail Bag, fold the plaits in half, drop them in the bag and put the two safety straps© through the centre of the plaits from back to front or towards you and seal on the dual locking velcro tabs. If you need to adjust the top, now is the time to tighten the toggle at the top of your bag sealing the top. YES it really is a race against time to keep that tail clean - Once they poo in their tail its all over their back legs which means washing… again!
Next is the mane, fold the neck of your drying rug over the back of your horse - it will help hold it out the way and continue to dry your horse. Blow-dry the roots and work your way down the lengths of the hair for full salon experience use your favourite paddle brush in combination with the hair dryer.
Section the mane in to approximately 6 plaits - put some feed down for your horse so its head and neck is stretched while you do this. If you plait when the head is up it can be too tight causing pulling on the base of the mane when the horse puts its neck down to graze.
Start plaiting 2” from the base of the mane, again you want to start loosely and tying off with a human hair band.
Next up is your Trophy Tails Mane Bags, if you have the tie in lycra sort:- lift the plait up and put the back tie through the centre go the plait upwards towards the sky, with your other hand grab the other tie and your plait will easily flop in to the bag, tie to secure.
With any of our other mane bags you are going to do a similar thing, fold the plait in half, pop in the bag, push the safety strap© through the middle of the plait feeding bottom to top and secure on the dual locking velcro tab then tighten the toggle at the top of your bag, any excess cord can be looped back through the front of the safety step to hold it so it doesn’t flap around.
Next pull on your favourite lycra hood or lycra body suit - please take extra caution around the face and ears. We ask a lot of our horses, the least we can do for them is to be gentle with their faces, after all you’d hate for your horse to become resistant to anything being pulled over their head.
Now you can either comb through your horses feather to get some of the woodflour out or apply your socks/boots straight over the top and comb out at the show. For Trophy Tails Lycra Leg Socks© scrunch down in your hands as you would your own sock or tights, lift the hoof and pull on from toe to heel. Lift the feather up from the hoof band and pull the sock up and secure the straps.
If using Trophy Tails Waterproof Feather Boots© open the boot and straps, start at the top by pulling the boots around the leg and securing the top internal straps, then go down to the hoof and pull the boot around the hoof band from heel to toe scooping the feather in to the boot, secure the bottom internal strap. Pull the feather up from the hoof band and begin securing the centre velcro followed by the external straps working top to bottom.
Once washed, covered and booted your horse is ready to go!
Horse showers are a great investment for bathing the traditional cob, so are blasters - a heavy duty type of hair drier. My favourite product to use is the Henny range, its completely natural and has lots of great advantages such as anti fungal, deters mites, treats any skin complaints, extremely moisturising and most importantly it smells wonderful!
If you’re a purple shampoo fan, Vetrolin is the best on the market. I used to use bucket loads of the stuff, imported from USA. Do not leave on under any circumstances - it does stain ponies purple but is great for giving the illusion of a clean horse.
My favourite whitening powder/paste is Supreme Products, its fantastic on the natives made in to a paste and applied to damp legs and great to rub in to feather.
Talc, chalk and woodflour are widely available, my favourite woodflour being of the finer sort from heavy horse supplies based in Yorkshire.
Shampoo or soft soap - a good cheap animal shampoo (if that’s the route you like) bought in 5L bottles is the Wahl range dirty beastie or aloe types. Soft soap I do not recommend, it leaves a horrid film everywhere and strips the natural oils.
For tack:- the Rapid gel from Fairfax Saddles is excellent for cleaning and conditioning, if you’re anything like me I hate tack cleaning but this product makes things much easier!
What to wear when showing a traditional in hand:-
Horse: Standard hunter type ridden bridle with reins over the head is fine to get you started. Flat wide noseband - dependent on the horse but usually 2” noseband for a heavy traditional cob of around 14.2hh. Personally I like a plaited browband, no ribbons or diamantes.
There are a few types of coupling to use with a bridle, I use single stallion chain on a stallion and butterfly lead on a mare.
Noseband shouldn’t be raised or have any pirouette type stitching on - for natives or M&M types this looks lovely but not for this breed.
Handler: If your horse has light legs wear dark trousers, if your horse has dark legs wear light trousers, if you are showing a few horses with different coloured legs wear contrasting trousers such as burgundy.
Tweed is correct for showing this type. Arms must be covered, if you wear a waist coat make sure you wear a long sleeved shirt. Jackets are more acceptable and smarter at higher level showing. Pick a tie that is smart and compliments the colours of your tweed and your pony. Please remember gloves, it really does make a difference to the over all appearance. Head covering must be worn at all times in the ring, even if its ‘too hot’. This doesn’t necessarily mean your riding hat but a flat cap or hunting cap/beagler is acceptable. Our breed society will not let you show without your head covered, you will not be allowed in the ring. Also no jewellery - Always read the rules for the show before entering. Hair net, tie pins, collar pins, number holders are all extras that enhance the overall appearance of the showing pair. A good, smart pair of boots with ankle support is a must for running your horse.
Travelling: ensure your horse has shavings down to catch any runny poo from splashing back up the legs, when using our boots they will help to protect from any mishaps whilst travelling. Many horses become stressed or excited when going out in the horse box meaning more poo and its usually pretty runny - yuk! Have your bucket and sponge at the ready for when your get to your show!
Basics: ensure your horse moves at the side of you, handler must not exceed shoulder. Your horse must stand square and still for the judge to look around. Practice, practice, practice! When flashing in you must cover two sides of the ring… run for your life! When stood waiting encourage relaxed behaviours until its your go. When the judge calls you up stand your horse square behind mindful of your position in relation to the judges position, you want your judge to see all of your horse. You will be asked to walk away and trot back, actively walk the horse away from the judge in a straight line, before turning take a few steps to your left and turn your horse away to the right - taking a few steps to the right makes for a better, neater turn. Once your horse is straight again ask two strides of walk then straight in to an active trot, trot your horse directly AT the judge (they want to see it move) when you get close the judge will hop out the way and watch you trot away around the ring and stop, stand the horse up and salute the judge. Thats your bit over, all you have to do now is keep your horse stood up and occupied whilst waiting for the other competitors to do their show. This can take a while, especially in large classes so you horse must be able to wait. Youngstock will rarely go this smoothly, with babies anything can happen but its all good experience!
You go out to enjoy your horses, if they try their best for you thats all you can ask, any more is a bonus!
Take care & enjoy showing your horse.