On a show day, everyone wants to leave an excellent impression on the judges and spectators. In addition to a strong performance in the competition, this also includes the immaculate condition of the riding equipment, clean and tasteful competition clothing, and a beautifully presented horse. This way, you can show off yourself and your horse before the show, regardless of whether you are competing in an equitation competition or in an advanced level show jumping competition. Appearance is not everything at the show, of course, but it can help you make a good first impression.
The horse's leather tack must be in perfect condition and should be polished to a shine before the show. Before the start, make sure to check which equipment is allowed. For example, a sliding ring martingale is usually always allowed in show jumping competitions, whereas this is only the case in a few basic dressage competitions. At the show, you should always start with a saddle pad and not a saddle cloth. Saddle pads look great on any horse and are particularly elegant. Theoretically, you have all possibilities when choosing the colour, there is no rule that prescribes a white saddle pad. In reality, however, almost all dressage riders opt for a pure white "Sunday best saddle pad", while show jumpers are often a bit more courageous and choose navy blue, vermilion and other colours that look great on their horses.
White trousers, a tournament blouse, a black jacket - this is what every rider used to wear at the show. Nowadays there are slight individual variations, depending on taste. Some wear riding jackets in dark grey or dark blue, the breeches sometimes have a grey or even slightly coloured trim, and there are no limits to the colour of the competition riding shirt, as long as the collar is white. As with your horse, your gear must, of course, be clean. However, white competition breeches in particular are prone to stains before the start. To avoid this, simply wear jogging trousers over your competition trousers until just before mounting. Women with long hair should tie it in a braid or knot that will last the whole competition.
A healthy, well-trained horse always looks beautiful: a shiny coat, good nutritional condition, alert expression. With the right styling for the show, you can bring out the natural beauty of your own horse even more. After thorough grooming, the coat can be sprayed with a gloss spray. Here you should spray the spray mainly on the neck and croup and leave out the saddle area to prevent the saddle from slipping. The hooves must be clean and can be polished with hoof oil afterwards.
If necessary, mane and tail can be washed with mild shampoo the day before the show. The tail can then be sprayed with a tail gloss spray and detangled. A horse's tail looks particularly good if it has been cut very neatly and evenly at the bottom. This can be done the day before the show so that it looks especially neat the next day.
The mane should not be sprayed with gloss spray when you want to braid it, otherwise it will become too slippery. Most people think that it is compulsory to braid the horse's mane at shows, at least in dressage. This is not the case, but it is a tradition that always makes a good impression. For example, show jumpers usually braid their horses' manes when appearance and style are important, i.e. in style jumping competitions or tests for young show jumpers.
Braids give you the opportunity to show off your horse's neck better. Many small braids can visually lengthen the neck of your horse, while small, thick braids make the neck of your horse appear stronger and shorter. How many and how thick the braids should be depends on the thickness and length of the mane. Fashion also plays a small role in styling your horse: While 10 years ago, for example, it was fashionable in dressage to braid many small braids, which stood upwards and were wrapped with white ribbon, nowadays it is more "in" to braid a few thick braids, which lie close to the neck and are fixed quite traditionally with a thread. Braiding can also be used on horses that have a long mane. The French plait looks best on horses with short, strong necks.