Put Your Best Hoof Forward
Preparing your horse for a show involves more than just making sure he responds well to your foot signals and touch on the reins. How your horse looks can also effect the judges' decisions. Rather than waiting until the last minute to start worrying about his appearance, make preparing for a show a daily endeavor year round.
Making good use of both a hard and a soft brush, and a curry comb can do much toward keeping your horse's coat healthy and shiny and eliminate the need for frequent bathing. If you feel your horse is in need of bath before a show, try bathing the night before with a good conditioning horse shampoo; since this will mean they have less time to roll and dirty their coat all over again. A special whitening shampoo is a must for light colored horses or those with white "socks". A good coating of cornstarch can make those white areas appear whiter.
Also, take special care of the mane and tail during any grooming session. Detangling and conditioning frequently will insure a thicker, softer, more luxurient growth of hair and greatly improve your mount's appearance. To avoid excessive time spent detangling just before a show, try braiding the mane and tail several days in advance, and using a tail bag. The resulting wave will be gorgeous.
Trimming excess facial hair on the muzzle, the hair at the fetlock, and a clean, neatly trimmed "bridle path" on the mane are a must.
Just before a show, many competitors sand their horse's hooves and then apply hoof polish. This is frowned on by some breed registries. If this practice is banned by your registry, try rubbing in some lanolin for an extra shine.
Since most Veterinarians and Farriers will tell you that the condition of a horse's feet can greatly effect it's overall health; wield that hoofpick daily. And while we're on the subject of health, there are many feed products available at your local feed store that are full of nutrients that will not only enhance your horse's appearance, but improve his overall performance. Also, don't forget to worm and vaccinate regularly; and well in advance of any show dates.