2 Triple0 Gold, ready for the ring.

Preparing The Colt for A Show

1. Bathe the Colt:
  • Keep water out of ears
  • Run water slowly on face.
  • After a good scrubbing with soap and water, pressure all the soap out of the coat, the mane and the tail.
  • Use a sweat scraper to remove excess water.
  • Spray on Showsheen or any coat conditioner on the coat and in the mane and tail.
2. Make sure the colt’s mane falls on the right side of the horse. A horse can be disqualified if it falls on the left side of the body. This needs to be trained from the time the colt is born, if possible.
3. Teach the colt to stand quietly on cross-ties. That is a great place to work on a horse as you can work all around their body and the colt cannot go anywhere. When you are first teaching a colt to stand on cross-ties, use a quick-release snap on the cross-ties or just use a lead rope on one side with a quick release knot. At first a colt may try to run or may rear up and fall down. Let them do that, but don’t let the colt get loose. Just release one side of the cross-tie, get the colt up and do it again, with a quick release. Once a horse figures he cannot get free on cross-ties, he’ll never try again.
4. Hopefully, you will not need to body clip your colt. Although if you live in a cold climate or if your colt has not been wormed properly and has not lost its baby hair, then you may have to body clip. That is a last resort however.
5. To give a regular hair cut, do the following:
  • Give your horse a bridle path. It should be the length of the horse’s ear. It
    should start at the poll (right between the ears and go back about the length of the ear.
  • If you have a lot of forelock, you will need to clip a portion of it. Raise
    the forelock and start clipping from the bottom upward toward the ears, leaving a small amount of forelock. It is important that the horse be able to be braided and look neat.
  • Trim the hair at the hoof-line – I usually turn the clippers sideways and run it around the coronary band, trying not to clip any of the short hair in the pastern area – just the hair hanging over the hoof itself.
  • Trim the ears. Leave a sharp point at the top. You may have to twitch the colt to do this or sometimes people “ear” a colt – twist one ear while you are working on the other. There’s always a possibility you could make the horse ear-shy, but most of the time it does not.
  • Trim the long hairs above and below the eyes, but not the actual eyelashes.
  • Trim all the whiskers on the muzzle.
  • Trim all long hair under the jaw
  • Trim the fetlocks (long hair on the back of the ankle)
  • Trim any other long or unsightly hair.
6. Hoof care:
  • Trim hooves
  • If you are showing a yearling, have a pad and shoe put on.
  • Hoof-black all four hooves. You can use clear hoof shine if hooves are white, or you can hoof-black them.
  • Between shows, Hooflex hooves to make them strong and healthy – work in good around the coronary band.
7. Brush coat and braid mane and forelock:
  • 1. Prepare your braids by cutting 3 ribbons for each braid – there will be 2 braids per horse. You can choose any color combination you wish. The length depends on the size of the horse you are braiding. For a colt, you would probably need about 18 inches for each of the 3 ribbons. By the way, you need ribbon like that sold at the major horse supply shops. Ribbon that you buy in local stores is not appropriate.
  • Lay the 3 ribbons one on top of another and in one end twist a knot. Then take a scissors and cut a “V” in the portion that is sticking up.
  • Have a person help you. In doing the forelock first, place the ribbon at the top of the forelock and have your helper put one finger on the ribbon, pressing hard against the horse’s head. Then split the forelock, lay one piece of ribbon over each of the two sides of the forelock and braid tightly. The forelock ribbon should be as long as the horse’s head. As you braid down the horse’s head, when you get to the top of the nose, take one piece of the ribbon, twist it around the other two and drop it down through the loop. Clip the ends in a “V”. Then pull the ribbon to the side and put it behind the colt’s halter on the right side so the colt does not “eat” it. Also, while you are braiding have your helper keep the unbraided ribbon out of the horse’s mouth – a lot of colts will try to “eat” it while you are braiding and it makes for a soggy braid.
  • Now you are ready to braid the side. Select a small amount of mane right at the beginning of the mane next to the bridle path. Place your ribbon at the top of the first strands of mane and have your helper put one finger on the top of the braid with the “V” in it. Then braid the mane into the ribbons. That mane braid should be the length of the mane. If the mane is unusually short, you can make it a little longer than the mane. Tie it off at the bottom by twisting one strand of ribbon around the braid and dropping the end down through the twist. Cut a “V” in all three strands of ribbon. Make sure the three strands of ribbon at the top of the braid are separated so the three “V”s are visible.
8. Show Halter :
  • Choose a brown or black leather show halter with a colored brow band. You can choose any color combination. Your ribbons should match your headband and your clothing should be compatible to those colors also.
  •  Make sure your forelock ribbon runs to the right side under the browband and behind the leather halter.
  • Your show halter should fit your colt well and should have a matching leather lead with a chain on it.
9. Proper attire:
  • 1. Wear a riding habit if possible – any color is O.K., but basic black works well with a tie that matches the show halter and ribbons.
  • If you do not have a riding habit, wear nice black slacks with a white blouse or shirt and black boots. (If you do not have Jodhpur boots, Justin roper boots will work.) A vest works well also and can look just about as good as the full riding habit.
  • Try to dress so you are cool as it is frequently hot when showing and there is a lot of walking and exercise.
  • No stable names are allowed on apparel or tack.
  • You may carry a quirt – preferably black. Sometimes if you wave the quirt in front of the horse when he is parked out and the judge is looking at him, it makes you look professional and may make the colt look alert.


Last Updated: March 28, 2017

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