Let's face it: Horses are dirty critters that love to roll in mud or manure—especially right before (or during) a big event.
But for those of you hardy souls aspiring to keep your steeds sleek and clean for competition, below are some tried-and-true suggestions for your "groom-on-the-go" kit. Some of these items are handiest for one-day competitions, while others will be more useful when you're stabled on show grounds for a week or longer:
1. A rubber curry comb that is sturdy and comfortable in your hand. Besides lifting scurf and dirt from the coat, these have a massaging effect that many horses find relaxing. One of the smaller, round styles will fit neatly in most kits.
2. A stiff mud brush, one or two soft dandy brushes, an even softer body brush and a small, fine and very soft brush for use on the face. It is best not to share brushes between horses, and if you're stabling at a multi-day show, be sure to pack an antibacterial, anti-fungal liquid soap with which you can disinfect/clean brushes at least once a week.
3. A small, pocket-sized pair of electric ear clippers/trimmers for those stray ear, muzzle and leg hairs— preferably battery powered (remember the batteries!) and as quiet as possible
4. Curved or regular scissors (keep them sheathed) for last-minute trims to fetlocks and coronary bands
5. An all-purpose, everyday spray coat conditioner such as ShowSheen® Hair Polish & Detangler, which cuts grooming time in half by detangling manes and tails while nourishing the hair with pro-vitamins and silk proteins. This product also helps repel grass and manure stains, ensuring that your horse stays clean longer.
6. A wide-toothed mane/tail comb. Start combing at the bottom of a tangled tail and work your way up gradually, to avoid breakage.
7. For those really tough detangling challenges: a specialized product like ShowSheen® Detangler Gel with Argan Oil of Morocco, with diffuser applicator.
8. A hoof pick (ideally the type with a stiff brush on one end, for removing caked-on mud).
9. A whitening spray such as ShowSheen® Stain Remover & Whitener to clean/make white socks “pop.” Finish off with a dusting of cornstarch if needed (apply before the hoof polish).
10. Hoof polish or dressing, preferably a formula that does not attract arena footing. This should be applied at the last minute before entering the ring.
11. A travel-sized bottle of baby oil to add shine and definition around the eyes and muzzle, or a glosser product for last-minute touch-ups. Cotton balls are a great way to apply the oil.
12. Several clean hand towels or rags to remove dust from the coat and from riders' boots in between classes.
13. A braiding kit that is small and portable, for those braids that *always* come undone at inconvenient times. Make sure that you include plenty of yarn or thread in the color of your horse's mane and tail.
14. Template and brush for quarter marking on the hindquarters (if you use one). Water brushes are traditional for this, but a moistened dandy brush will also work.
15. A package of pre-moistened baby wipes (without bleach, please!) to remove specks of dust, clean your hands, etc.
16. Fly repellent spray for the horse's legs and body (and lotion, if used on the face)
17. To stash ringside, if possible: a bucket with two small, wet sponges (for wiping slobbery bits, etc.) and a waterless cleaner like ShowSheen® Miracle Groom® for emergency clean-ups when there's no time for a bath.
18. Studs and stud removal kit, if used
19. A bottle of liniment and/or body brace, as well as a bucket and sponge, with which to rinse your charge after the competition, especially if the weather is hot. For longer shows, bring your usual equine shampoo and conditioner for regular baths. A combination product like ShowSheen® 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner is a timesaver worth considering.
20. Sweat scraper for use after bathing.