Hints & Tips




"preparing your special friend for the show ring"



Tie Your Horse Up


A few years ago during a trip south to Christchurch for the NZMHA National Show we visited Colleen and Bruce Sands at Brogan Lane and saw their set up for clipping and washing horses and have duplicated it for ourselves. 


It is comprised of a pair of pipe poles about 1.0m apart with ties on each on a concrete pad.  These allow the horse to be firmly double tied while allowing 360 degree access.  We utilise this arrangement for clipping, washing, grooming, having feet done, veterinary care (including dental) and would never do without it again.


We have not seen a better solution.

Make Sure Your Miniature is Securely Tied



When to Clip


While the temptation is always there to clip as soon as possible clipping too early can result in a coat that has gone off by the end of the season. We tend to hold off till about 3 weeks before the first show, then do a rough clip (leave lower legs and head). This allows us to see what condition the horse is in and make any adjustments to feeding. Also if they have any patches of rain scald, there is time to treat it.


Our show clips will generally be done between one week and a couple of days before the show. The season, weather and colour of the horse can make a big difference to when you clip. Early and late in the season we would probably clip for every show. But in those nice warm summer months you can sometimes stretch a clip out for several shows, with only a bit of tidying needed around head and muzzle. Black or white horses may need to be clipped earlier so they have time to regain some coat and colour before the show. You will probably have to experiment a bit to get it just right.


You will know when his coat needs attention




Before clipping, it is good to ensure your horse is as clean as possible. Horses that have been covered may not need a bath - perhaps just a hose down of muddy, hairy fetlocks. But if your horse is very dirty, a bath will make the job easier and be a lot kinder to your clipper blades. The horse will need to be completely dry before you clip. You might want to stable him overnight and clip the next day. Clipping a damp horse is very hard work and you often get nasty clipper marks that won't go away.


Begin grooming by removing all surplus mud





For the first rough clip we often use a set of big horse clippers. These get the long coat off fast and they work fine when you don't need to get in around fine little legs or faces. If your horse's coat is clean and not too long, your normal clippers will do the job.


For show clips we generally use a size 10 blade on the body, a 15 on the head and a 30, a 40 or even 50 for the fine details of the muzzle, above the eyes, inside ears, under the throat etc. If it's close to a show and you've not used these close clipping blades before,weI would suggest just using the 15. Then when you get home, practice with the finer blades to get the look you want. The hair grows back pretty fast so if you have a disaster, hopefully it will be fixed by the next show.


Once again, these are general guidelines only. We have clipped a horse all over with 15 and even 30 blades. But there are other horses that we wouldn't dream of body clipping that closely. Be careful with horses that have white - a very close clip leaves only pink skin showing. Not only is it unattractive, it puts your horse at risk of getting sunburned at an outdoor show.


For several years our main clippers have been a set of Double K, but we just recently also purchased a set of Wahl KM2 and they do a very nice job as well (and are a lot cheaper!) We know other people with the KM1 (only difference is they are single speed) and they really like them too.


But don't clip him yourself

unless you are an expert




We always wash our horses in warm water as the shampoos all lather up better.


In spite of what the little cartoon next door says, we actually use dishwash liquid for our first wash. Then for the pinto/palomino horses we massage in some of that really purple shampoo - We have been using Glow White, but we have some new equally purple stuff that does the same job. After about five minutes you need to rinse it off thoroughly as you don't want a purple horse!


For blacks and chestnuts we usually use some of the appropriate colour shampoo (there are several different brands) and do the same - massage in and leave 5 minutes before rinsing. With the black horses we usually add a small amount of baby oil to the final rinse. This seems to fix any scurf in their coat. These horses need to be particularly well rinsed as soap residue shows up as nasty white flakes the next day.

Detergents should

be avoided



Controlling that Wild Mane


A pet hate of ours is manes that stand up like a mohawk! Even with the foals it is usually possible to get them reasonably under control. Once we've decided what side we want the mane to go we will plait it up into small braids. With a soft doona hood over the top it is amazing how quickly it will start to lie that way. We only use skinny hoods the night before the show. After washing and conditioning the mane we pop on a skinny hood (careful to make sure all the mane is lying flat underneath) and the next morning it's ready to go. A good tip we were given - put the skinny hood on over the doona - that way the elastic doesn't leave a ring mark around your horses tummy when you take it off.



Beware of washing the mane just before a show




Types of Brushes etc.


Use the body brush vigorously

- he will enjoy it



Tail Washing


Protecting, cutting, washing etc.


Get his tail well into the

bucket when shampooing


Tail - Cutting


Cutting/Thinning Tails etc.


Tail pulling undertaken with care





Feed, locking up etc.


Tone up his muscles by banging

with a sack of wet straw


Show Preparation


Makeup, hoof polish etc.


Polish his coat with a rubber