This month we are thinking about the show season, and how you can make your horse really stand out from the rest of the competition in the ring. With this in mind, we've compiled a list of handy hints, both from our own experience, and from our fans on Facebook, who have kindly posted their top tips for showing success.
* If you have a horse with a light coloured tail or white legs, start the preparation work a few weeks before the show. Sometimes, especially with messy horses and after the winter season, it can take a number of washes to restore a tail to its former glory. If you're struggling to get your horse’s tail and legs as white as you like them to be, consider investing in whitening products or whitening shampoos that are designed to really help bring out any white points.
* Do all the preparation you can at home, but be aware that even the best laid plans don't always work out. There is no doubt that if you’ve spent a long time cleaning your horse, he’ll probably do something in the lorry or trailer which means you’re going to have to readdress the issue when you arrive. Don't let this worry you, just make sure you’re prepared with a bucket, sponge, and stain removing products.
* If you're washing the mane before a show, and then you're planning to plait it, don't use conditioner or any spray conditioning products as this can make it really difficult to deal with. However, there are specialist plaiting liquids that can make the hair easier to plait, by making it go stiff or tacky. These products will also help to keep plaits in place all day long.
* Although it might be tempting to trim any bits of stray mane or tail, do your best to avoid this, as whilst you might be at the show for a few hours, it takes a long time for the hair to regrow.
* Vanessa Thrussell on our Facebook page has given us her top tips for show ring turnout. She says to pay very close attention to the horse or pony's head, and most importantly the eyes, nostrils and ears, as a lot of people pay attention to the rest of the horse’s body but forget all about the head.
* Clare Louise Hogan’s top tip is to use Vaseline or a similar product around the horse’s eyes and nostrils to give a better result. It was also suggested that using clear oil on hooves can give a great result and is a lot less messy to use.
* Be aware, especially if you're using oil based products on the horse’s face, that when the sun is out, it could cause burning. No matter how nice you want your horse to look, you don’t want to cause any discomfort or pain.
* There are lots of specialist showing products out there, to help you to achieve really exceptional results. These can help address specific issues, or just help you get a few extra points for turnout.
* Make sure your tack is clean and treated before the show, but also take tack cleaning products with you to give it a final buff when it’s on the horse.
* After washing the horse's tail, it can be useful to apply a tail bandage when the horse is in the stable. This will encourage the tail hair to sit flush against the dock. However, be aware that as a wet bandage dries, it can tighten, and you do not want to restrict the circulation to the horse’s dock.
* Keep your show clothes for the last minute- get your horse ready in normal clothes, or put a waterproof boiler suit or trouser and jacket combo over your smart clothes to protect them.
* Check your kit and the horse’s kit at least a week before you go to show or event. This doesn't mean just finding it, but also trying it on. In showing especially, looks are important. A shirt with buttons missing can be easily fixed when no one’s panicking and, if you really can’t find something or it’s not looking its best, you have