With the showing season about to start, in this article, top show producer Hannah Horton gives her top tips on how to stand out on show days. The feature includes what to wear, what you’ll need with you by the ring, standing the horse properly and how to pull the horse’s tail. There’s also some fab video content … so get ready to dive right in!
At just five years old, Hannah Horton won the title of Supreme Horse and Pony of the Year at Horse of the Year show riding her lead-rein pony, Greylands Little Gem. This early taste of success continues unabated and Hannah is now making a name for herself producing show horses to the top level, with several wins at Horse of the Year Show (HOYS) and the Royal International Horse Show (RIHS).
Most recently, Hannah took 2nd place in the Large Hack of the Year at HOYS 2022 with Mr and Mrs Burley’s stunning grey, Imagine FW. This followed up Hannah taking the Riding Horse title at the RIHS and Small Riding Horse of the Year title at HOYS in 2021 with Mrs Eileen Jenkin’s Buriana Larkrise.
Hannah’s small, highly professional yard is a real family business, she works alongside her parents, Helen and James Horton. All three pride themselves in producing horses for their loyal owners, many of whom have enjoyed much success with Hannah and her long-term mentors, Mr Richard and Mrs Marjorie Ramsay.
For the past few seasons, Hannah has enthusiastically ‘put something back’ into the showing world by judging and supporting riders in the amateur SEIB Search for a Star series.
Hannah’s Top Showing Tips for 2023
Showing tips for grooms, including what to wear
Grooms should look smart in the ring, ideally, your groom should wear a tweed jacket, smart trousers and boots. If you are competing in SEIB Search for a Star classes, grooms are required to wear a hard hat. An everyday riding hat is quite acceptable. Some people may have a patey hat or a beagler, either of those is fine too. At some of the county shows the groom isn’t required to wear a hard hat, in which case, a flat cap or tweed flat cap or a sun hat is fine too.
In the grooming kit, there should be a brush for the body, a brush to flick off any mud or sand off the legs. Separate brushes are needed to make sure no sand – or mud dust – goes on the body. A tail brush is also useful in the grooming kit and a sponge is a necessity. We either bring a bottle of water along to make the sponge wet or make sure the sponge has been soaked in water so it’s nice and wet.
If it’s summer, the groom should always have a fly spray with them because there is nothing worse than having a horse that won’t stand because the flies are irritating them. Scissors are always helpful in case anything should need cutting for real attention to detail – a needle and thread in case a plait should fall out in the ring and needs sewing back in. The grooming kit for the groom is completed with a Stable rubber to wipe anything that has attracted any dust – or mud.
Make sure your horse stands up beautifully in the ring
It is so important to ensure your horse stands up properly for the judge in the show ring. Conformation is so important in a show class, and the judge needs to be able to easily assess your horse standing up. Practising at home is key to success.
Make sure your horse stands still and is not fidgeting. The handler needs to remain still too – and not be fiddling with the bridle or excessively asking the horse to take half a step forwards or backwards. Some polos – or similar treats – can often be useful for helping the horse to look interested whilst flexing his poll slightly. The horse shouldn’t have his head right up in the air – or down on the ground. Throwing grass up in the air is a bad idea as it often just encourages the horse to put his head right up in the air!
For a really professional look, the horse should ideally have the legs on the judges’ side nearer together and the fore and hindlegs on the far side further apart. The horse is then asked to move forward or back half a step as the judge goes around the other side so the off and near side legs are correct for the other side.
Make sure your tail pulling looks professional
A tail should always be pulled at least ten days before you go to a show. It is always best to pull the tail at the beginning of the season, then you just have to spend a few minutes now and again to keep it nice and trimmed up. For a neat look, just tweak the hairs out gently; it is similar to plucking eyebrows. Go evenly all the way down either side of the tail, and the aim is to have a beautiful fine tail with hardly any hair growing on the sides.
If you have a horse with a thick tail, such as a cob, then you will have to pull the top of the tail to keep it neat.
It is really important to keep a pulled tail well-washed. After pulling a tail, if it isn’t washed, then it could become itchy for the horse. We wash tails after pulling and then put on a tail bandage for a few hours – but no longer.
If you are thinking about giving showing a go but aren’t sure about taking the plunge, follow this link to find out more about SEIB’s Search for a Star amateur showing series Seib Competitions or find our information-packed Facebook page at @SEIB.Search4AStar.
About SEIB Search for a Star
SEIB Search for a Star is inclusive, focuses on providing support for those new to showing and offers the opportunity for amateur riders to qualify for championship finales at Horse of the Year Show and Your Horse Live.
Search for a Star Leading equine Insurance brokers, SEIB Insurance Brokers set up nearly 30 years ago to offer a unique competition opportunity to many of their amateur rider customers. SEIB has a long association with the showing world and is renowned for ‘putting something back’ by supporting many equestrian events and activities in addition to Search for a Star.
In the meantime – if you need to insure your horse, horsebox, trailer, yard or business – SEIB are here to help so please give us a call on 01708 850000 or visit www.seib.co.uk. #SEIBhere2help
We hope you’ve found our showing tips for horses and grooms useful. A huge thanks to Hannah for taking the time out to produce the feature.
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