Sunday, January 29, 2012

Preparing For The Show Ring Redux

Just a quick note first, today was yet another American Competitive Trail Horse Association (ACTHA) Competitive Trail Challenge down at Mustang-Spirit Horse Rescue and once again, I was one of their obstacle judges. Today I was asked to be the soundness check judge as well. What a fantastic group of people and a terrific group of horses and riders. More than 40 horses competed in the three divisions (Junior, Pleasure and Open).  Bravo to everyone who made this ride another success!!

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This time around we're discussing getting ready for the big day, horse show day, by making sure everything other than your horse is clean, prepared and all set to be packed up.

For me, I have certain products I use on my tack, just like I do on my horses. My mainstay is Lexol, but Ko Cho Line, Horsemen's One Step and Oakwood are other favorites. First I want the leather clean, and that means using a good cleaner and really getting down into the tooling on Western saddles, for instance. That can be a tough order, let me tell you! I use a fairly stiff toothbrush and several soft rags, which do the job well. Then it's time to condition the leather, leaving it soft and supple.

If you need to rejuvenate, darken or supple up your leather, Neatsfoot Oil is the ticket ~ soaking will produce the best results, but you must remember to wipe off the excess oil, then clean + condition as usual or risk staining both your horse and your show clothes. For my Western saddle suede seats, as well as suede chaps, I really like the KIWI Suede & Nubuck cleaner.

Moving on, I wash my bits in an anti-bacterial dish soap, followed by rinsing them well and both towel and air drying fully before beginning the polishing process. For stainless and chrome, I use English Custom Polish's products. Expensive, but worth it. On my silver, my preference is Hagerty's Silversmith Spray. Been using it for many years, and it's still the best. Lightly spraying on a soft rag, wipe the silver, let it dry and then buff it, your silver will gleam like never before.

Another essential is ensuring your show clothes are clean, pressed and ready to roll. If you need to have anything dry cleaned, get them in long before you need to be packing!! Depending on the item of clothing, I will either hand wash in Woolite or machine wash on the "gentle" cycle, and hang to dry. Remember, this includes your boots (which need to be cleaned and polished ~ I use KIWI Parade Gloss) and your hats (which I will take to the dry cleaner, too)! Investing in a good hat cleaning sponge as well as a higher end lint roller is a must, too.

Make sure everything is spic and span, up to and including your horse's blankets and other horsewear, so that you'll arrive at the big event looking like you belong.


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