At the Show - Finishing Touches
Quarter marks, when brushed onto a clean, shiny solid coloured (not grey) horse's hind quarters, can really 'finish off' a horse's 'look'. There are many different designs for quarter marks, but I've only ever tried two. Stencils can be bought from saddleries with have squares, diamonds or other shapes on them. Use a damp sponge and wipe over your horse's quarters, then lay the stencil in the required position. It helps if you have someone else hold the stencil why you use a slightly damp body brush to brush against the growth of the hair. When the stencil is removed - viola! The photo on the left is not clear at all - this is what happens when you try using quarter makers on anything but a spotlessly clean horse! (Tisca was being used as a model, and we didn't have time to wash him first). Spray the marks with hair spray, but don't put a rug on them as they will rub off, so you should do the quarter marks at the show. To create a similar look to the stencil, a small section of comb can be used. This takes longer, but can be very effective in creating a checker-board pattern.
Another method is to use a mane and tail comb (the ones that are around 10cm long) and draw perfectly straight wide lines on your horse's quarters, extended approx 20cm downwards from the middle of the hindquarters, on either side (see photo on right). Once again, the coat has to be clean and damp. Normally three stripes are used, and often 'sharks teeth' are used which start where the stripes end. Sharks teeth are difficult to explain without a diagram - but one will be coming soon!
Applying Face Make-Up
Especially in the hack ring, face make up can be a very effective way of highlighting a pretty horse's head, and like human makeup, you can also use it to disguise your horse's not so pretty features. But make sure you don't over do it and have your horse ending up looking like a racoon!!
I haven't had much experience with using face makeup. One product I used (a clear makeup) seemed to attract dust and dirt. However, using this product around the nose and chin really did darken his muzzle, and it looked very effective before the dirt started sticking! Make sure you find a product that works well for you. The product I use now (Champion Tails 'Red-Brown') works very well. The following is a friend of mine's advice:
You apply in on the muzzle in points, a peak above each nostril and over the lips. I'm not sure how to explain it. Make sure you do the chin as well. Put it on his eyes, but not too much, and down to the cheekbone, and up to the bulgy bit, whose name I do not know. You know the bump above the eye? Cover it, quite thinly. Then use a clean towel or sponge, and blend in the edges, so it looks more natural. If you rub off the excess at the same time, you should be okay. Then you use a clear make-up or plain vaseline over the top to make the highlights shine, or you can mix baby oil with the makeup before you apply it. - Heather
For more information, there is a really fantastic article at Hoofs and Horns by Sandra Morphett, called Applying Make Up to Horses.
In the Ring
What you do in the ring depends on the class you have entered. Below I have covered the events that I have entered this year, as they are the only ones I'm pretty sure about.
In the ring
As with showjumping, you must be gearchecked before approaching the judge. Make sure you are aware what type of bits are allowed at the level you plan to compete at, and whether whips and/or spurs are allowed. As the competitor before you is leaving the arena at the end of their test you will be able to walk your horse over to the judge's car which will be parked at C. Tell the judge your name, as well as your horse's, or they may read your number. You then head for the other end of the arena, and the judge normally beeps their horn as you are heading in that direction, or while you are circling in preparation for entering at A. The horn means that you have one minute to enter the arena. At the conclusion of your test, even if it has gone dismally, do not get angry with your horse, but calmly leave the arena at a long rein walk. The judge is still watching you, and writing in the all important final comments and marks.
The dressage and showjumping phases of eventing are very similar to that in 'straight' showjumping and dressage shows, however it is the cross country phase which often has the most influence on your final placing. Normally the cross country course is open the day before the event is to take place. Make sure you get a map of the course before you set off - these often tell you any alternate routes - and also prevent you from missing a jump. I walk the course at least twice the day before, and then once again on the day of the event (normally straight after the dressage, as the course shouldn't be closed yet). Look out for any land marks so that you don't go the wrong way, and watch out for dodgy footing or jumps where you may have to really push your horse. Decide at this stage which route you will take if a jump has options - while you are galloping towards it isn't normally the best time to make these decisions!!
Hacking is judged on your horse's appearance, but also on how well he is going. If your horse looks beautiful, but is not well trained and has nice paces he won't do well in the hack ring.
Plaiting and Braiding
Preparing Your Tack and Clothing
At The Show