|Milton High School IEA Horse, Petey. A Good Example of Proper Turnout for IEA Shows.|
Photo Credit--Ashley Wilson
IEA riders, how can you properly turn out your horses at IEA shows?
Start at home with a daily regimen of grooming and tack care
If you want your team horses' coats to gleam with a healthy shine at the horse shows, you need to groom them thoroughly at home on a regular basis, not just the day before the horse show. Take time before and after each lesson to curry and brush their coats, get the mud off their legs, and untangle their manes and tails. If it's warm enough, hose your horse off after you ride.
Clean the tack every time you ride. Take time after your lesson to clean and condition the leather on the saddle, bridle, and any other tack the horse wears, such as a martingale. Keep an eye on the stitching on the bridle and stirrup leathers and let you coach know if anything needs repair.
If the horse you lessoned on wore boots, wipe them down after the ride or, if it was really muddy that day, hose them off in the wash rack. Don't leave dirt or mud on the boots. Over time, not only will it cause the boots to look dull and dirty, it can actually damage them and make them wear out faster.
Wash saddle pads, half pads, fuzzy girths, and polo wraps on a regular basis, not just the day before the show. If you wash them regularly, they are more likely to stay the color they were when you bought them, and they will be softer and more comfortable for the horses.
Put an extra shine on everything the day before the show
If it's warm enough, give the horses a bath, making sure you shampoo them all over and condition their tails. If it's too cold for a full bath, you can give them a sponge bath.
Pull their manes (only under the guidance of your coach). If you don't know how to pull a mane properly, watch your coach or an experienced team mate so you can learn for next time.
Take a good look at all the tack. Give it one last cleaning, and while you're at it, make sure everything is in good working order. Tell your coach if you notice something that doesn't look right. Make sure that you have a freshly laundered saddle pad for each horse, as well as any other cloth tack each horse wears (half pad, fuzzy girth, polo wraps, etc.)
Keep in mind, if your whole team has been keeping up with the daily grooming and tack cleaning, the day before the show will be a whole lot easier and less stressful.
Get it right on show morning
The morning of the show, give the horses one more thorough grooming and clean up any manure stains they may have gotten in the stall the night before. Clean their hooves inside and out, making sure there is no dirt or mud on the outside of the hoof. Brush the mane and tail, getting all of the shavings out.
Tack them up properly, making sure that the saddle pad is even on both sides, the half pad is positioned correctly, and the girth is the right size (you should have a couple extra holes on the billets above the girth on both sides in case it needs to be tightened later).
Put the boots on the correct feet, with straps facing backwards, or make sure the polos are wrapped correctly. If you don't know how to put on polos, ask your coach or an experienced teammate to do it while you watch and learn.
After you put on the bridle and martingale, check that all the fittings are in their keepers and you have no leather straps hanging out of place.
Take pride in your horses' turnout
If you the horse you drew is turned out especially well, take a moment to tell the horse holder and let her know you appreciate all the hard work her team put into getting the horses properly prepared for the show. It always feels good to know that someone noticed all your hard work and appreciates it.