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Tips to get the professional show ring finish we all dream of!

Vicky Goody

These are the questions we are often asked:

How do we, the customer/groom/competitor, achieve the show ring finish that the professional producers create so easily using the Smart Grooming products? 

Which ones should we choose? and in what order should we use them?

Our step by step guide below will help you get the super shiny results and with a bit of practice, will give you the professional edge.  The products are for the final finish, good feeding, management and grooming are also required to ensure the horse is kept in the best condition, ensuring healthy coat, and skin.  Good trimming and tidying will also ensure easier plaiting and turnout on a show day.

  • Bath a day or so before your competition, if you are able, alternatively if the horse is kept predominately stabled, with a regular daily grooming programme, a bath may not be necessary.

On the day:

  •  First give your horse a good body brush and massage to get the blood circulation going.

  • Then spray Smart Grooming Coat Sheen from the top of the neck downwards.  We find it easier to spray a small area. Then use a soft fleece mitt to polish and buff and then spray again, working your way down each side of the horse until all body areas are done.  A soft goat hair brush is also suitable. This finish will give you a super shiny result, perfect for general competition.

  • If requiring a show ring finish, after applying Coat Sheen all over as above, move on to the Smart Grooming Super Shine lotion. Pour a small amount into a bucket with an inch of hot water in the bottom. Get a cloth, dunk in and squeeze out then literally apply from face downwards in circles.

  • Allow to dry and brush lightly over with a soft goat hair brush. This will give the whole of the body extra gleam and shine.

  • For natural manes and tails – use Tame the Mane and for final shine, squeeze Super Shine onto hands and work through tails and manes before brushing through for a final finish.

  • For plaited classes apply Perfect Plaits to manes before and after plaiting this has a setting lotion and citronella in to help with flies in summer.  For a top up shine use Gloss n Go spray to give extra shine on plaits and to high light the darker points as needed.

  • For marking up and applying quarter marks/shark’s teeth/squares. Use the hot cloth method with Super Shine but make sure the quarters are very damp. Apply a good spray over of Quarter Mark spray and apply marks as needed. Use a finely spaced comb to get good hunter marks, a good stiff, densely packed body brush to get crisp shark’s teeth and our new combs with varying width sizes to give the correct size squares for hacks, show ponies and riding horses.  Spray over again and allow a couple of minutes to dry.  Rug up as needed. The spray will keep the markings perfect all day even with rugs on and off. 

  • Apply make up around the muzzle and to cover any scars or to blend in leg colour.

  • Enhancing gloss is the top up to use to give final shine over make up and around eyes and muzzle, this can be used on its own for a more natural finish and colour or on top of already applied make up colour.

  • Apply hoof paint, or oil as required.

Done!  Our products do not attract dust and leave no residue.  When you run your hand over the coat when its dry, you will not get any oil on them.  If a judge does happen to touch your horse, there will be no trace of oil on their hands once dry.

Coat Care at Clipping time

Vicky Goody

It’s getting to the winter woolly time of year for our horses and ponies.  If they can keep their natural coats for the duration of the winter, then clippers won’t be needed.  However, those that are kept fit and in work during the winter months will almost certainly be clipped several times during the winter season.

To make clipping as easy as possible for both owner and animal, here are a few points to help you on your way:

1.      Check your clippers and trimmers in good time prior to needing to clip.  Turn them on and check that they are running smoothly.

2.     Have a look at the blades, and if you are unsure if you put them away without being sharpened then send them in so that they are sharp and ready to go.

3.     Refresh your clipping knowledge with a quick read through of instructions regarding correct tension and type of blade to use.  Selecting the right grade of blade for the coat and finish that you require, will ensure the end look is smooth and line free.  Ensuring the right tension is applied to the blades is also important, both with getting a good finish but also to make sure the blades don’t get too hot.

4.     Check that you have plenty of clipper oil to hand, we cannot stress enough, just how important it is to oil blades every 5 to 10 minutes during use.  This not only keeps the blades running correctly, which in turn generates less heat, but also can keep the blades sharper for longer.  It might be useful to consider clipping oil which has a bactericide added to prevent cross infection if the same blades are being used on different horses.

5.     Lastly, preparing the horse with a good groom or body wash before clipping will really help give a great finish.  If the coat is greasy the blades will struggle to get through the extra grease as well as the hair, and in doing so will leave lines where the teeth have worked hard to get through.

6.     A quick spray over with Gloss n Go prior to clipping helps blades glide through a thick, dry coat and will make clipping so much easier.

7.     A good wash after will really help to take the clipper oil residue and remaining grease out of the coat.  Lavender Splosh Wash is a refreshing and relaxing wash which will lift any oil or grease effectively as well as leaving the coat super soft.  Alternatively, hot clothing with hot water and a dash of Super Shine lotion is great for a super shiny after clip finish.

Featured products:  Gloss n Go (Pre-clip spray),  Lavender Splosh wash for before and after clip wash.  Super Shine Lotion – as a hot wash for a super shiny finish.  Clippersharp Bactericide Clipper oil – particularly good for sensitive skinned horses.

Tame that Mane!

Vicky Goody

Tame the Mane

Mane pulling is a controversial topic.  There are several different ways to tidy a mane, either humanely using thinning rakes, scissors, razors, old clipper blades to name a few, or the traditional way with a metal mane comb.

If I was a horse I would definitely prefer the former if given the choice.  Let’s look at both options and then it’s for you and your horse to decide.

Traditional pulling – this is the established way of keeping a mane thinned and at a tidy length to brush and plait when needed.  The only tool required is a short metal mane comb.  I find the ones with a wooden handle the easiest to use.  To start with, brush the mane through so there are no knots.  Then begin at the top and work down, or at the bottom and work up.  However, either end of the mane is the most sensitive place for the horse, so you may find some resistance, even with the most placid of horses. 

To start with take a small section of mane, about half the width of the mane comb and back comb leaving some long strands, these bits you need to twist round the comb and pull out. Repeat this all the way down, or all the way up the mane until you have thinned and shortened it to the level needed.

It’s always best to make sure the horse is warm and exercised before pulling which will then mean the hair should come out more easily and be less harsh for them.  If there is a lot of resistance, or the horse has not had this done before, spread it out over a period of days, to make it easier and less traumatic. 

Humane tidying – If this is done with care, the result looks the same, and the horse feels no discomfort, so a “win, win” situation in my book.  Having used both methods over the years, I now only use this way.  Practice will perfect the finish, but it’s easy once you get the knack!

This is how I do it.  If you have a very thick mane to deal with, brush it over to the wrong side making sure there are no tangles.  Get yourself a Smart Manes thinning rake, or the narrower Smart Tails rake for tails is equally good.  Use the medium or medium/coarse grade and literally just brush down as if you were brushing with a brush.  Go carefully as they do take out a considerable amount in a very short time.  Once you have the mane at the thickness you require, brush back over. 

Now the next bit will take some practice, but if you are used to pulling the traditional way you will find that this is virtually the same technique.  Backcomb from the top leaving a few long bits like you have when you pull the usual way, and then instead of pulling these out, just get a pair of normal scissors and cut.  This may fill you with horror, but I promise it won’t look cut – just refer to our videos to see what I am doing!  Continue down the mane and this will create your level finish, leaving the mane thinned and neat and tidy.

If you have a thin, long mane to deal with, ignore the first part of the instructions, as it won’t need thinning, and just do the shortening method.  The other tool that could be used with thin manes are the razor combs, again use in the same way, back combing and then razor to cut the length.

Once the mane is tidy, thinned and at an acceptable length, keep it in good condition by regular washing and conditioning.  A spray in detangler and conditioner is a quick way to keep in good shape and easy to brush through, “Tame the Mane” is perfect, as it not only conditions allowing the brush to glide through, but it also takes the frizz out too, and keeps it laying down nicely.  This is particularly good if you are dealing with the more natural finish that traditional and M&M’s and other native breeds dictate.