I don't show, but I do Drill Team, does that count?
Obviously I don't need to worry about braiding, so that cuts down on the amount of work I need to do. I like to bathe the day before if possible, then use sheets to keep Ben as clean as possible until the actual event. (He's a Paint, so keeping those white spots clean can be a bit tricky - he's Pigpen in equine form. ) I also like to take care of any necessary clipping the day before. (I don't clip much - just bridlepath, whiskers, trim around the outside of the ears, and legs from coronet to just below the knee.) I'll often braid his mane and tail to get that nice wavy look. The day of the event, I'll brush him out with a soft body brush, do any touch-up cleaning, unbraid and brush out his mane and tail, shine his hooves, make sure his eyes and nostrils are clean and free of dirt and goobers. Add coat sheen (though not where the saddle goes! LOL), and of course, the decorations.
I don't show very much myself but I do a lot of the prep when our barn shows.
The night/afternoon before: bathe if possible (not always for winter shows) or REALLY good groom, clean tack, brush out tails and loosely braid to keep tangles out, trim ears/bridlepaths/whiskers if necessary. Braid manes if we're braiding. Pack up trailer with tack, first aid kit, hay nets, whatever I think we might need.
Morning of: really good groom, pick out tails, braid forelocks and tails if necessary, organize children, double check that all tack is on the trailer. Stop at Wawa for coffee and breakfast (this is essential and a good luck tradition ). Oil hooves at show before going in the ring. Apply shine spray/green spot remover as needed.
There is normally an army of kids on hand to help, but the routine doesn't change if I'm the only one showing. I do show prep for others but am way too OCD to let others do it for me! I kind of have it down to a science anyway
Pre-show: I like to do my clipping 4-5 days out from the show, ears, muzzle, bridle path and legs. On the legs I tidy up the fetlocks/coronary bands and if the leg is white I clip off all the white area. And if it needs it, I'll pull the mane.
The two days before my show I will usually hose off using the vetrolin body wash that attaches right to the hose-its kinda like giving a pre-bath.
Show Day: I much prefer to bath and braid the day of the show, if its not possible then I do it the day before and showsheen the heck out of the of his legs! lol I bath him twice-first time with a basic shampoo and then a second time with a colour enhancers (not sure if it they actually enhance anything, but makes me feel better!) Then I braid. If I have to braid the night before I use a sleezy to help keep them nice.
I'm part of the army of kids that Billiebob mentioned - except I'm a one-girl army. I just tag along at shows because I can learn from just watching the warm-up arena, and usually I get to ride a class or two. Last show, we brought seven horses and showed six (due to an unfortunate encounter between a leg and the trailer ramp). I was responsible for prepping two (a pig of a gray stallion and a fidgety nervous bay gelding) and did most of the braiding for all six. The show was three days. All of these horses are Arabs and show hunter pleasure and dressage in running braids.
If we had gotten to the show before 10 PM, I would have bathed on Thursday, but that didn't happen. My Friday morning routine was: Hay, water, grain. Bath for gray stallion. Tie him in his stall, braid mane and forelock. Wipe down saddle and saddle up - girth so loose it's mostly just hanging there. Brush shavings away from feet (concrete floor) and apply hoof polish. Apply makeup. Good grooming for bay gelding. Tie him, braid him. He and the gray share a saddle, so that'll have to wait. Apply hoof polish. Apply makeup.
Ringside, I tried to carry baby wipes but they walked away quickly, so I liberated a pool towel from the hotel and used that to wipe noses and eyes.
On the other mornings, I made the very important switch from "bath" for gray stallion to "aggressive rinse." Aggressive rinsing is a technique I developed myself (I don't know if it's unique, but no one taught it to me) and it's pretty awesome for horses who were clean the night before but managed to get green overnight. It doesn't replace a bath for the first day, but it definitely can for the second and third and so on. Steps:
0. Brush horse.
1. Get one of those hose nozzles that has a jet function or something similar.
2. Spray all gross spots with the jet, rubbing with your hand to loosen dirt and stains. Just keep spraying until a) the stain comes out or b) you decide that a Real Bath is necessary.
After the bath/rinse switch, mornings stay mostly the same.
The horses usually get bathed the day before we head out and any trimming (whiskers, bridle path, etc.) is done. I try to have the mane pulled at least a week ahead of time. I usually also deep clean and oil my tack the day before, and then load it all up in the trailer. If we have an early ride, I'll braid the night before, but otherwise I prefer to braid the day of.
We usually trailer in the day before the show starts, so day of routine is feed and walk the horses, do a good grooming (including Showsheen, Cowboy Magic in the tail only, fly spray, etc.) and braid. That way they just need a quick brush off before getting tacked up later. I always have the Cowboy Magic green spot remover on hand- that stuff is great! Hoof polish gets put on last thing after they come out of their stall so they don't end up with shavings stuck to their hooves.
I usually pull manes the weekend before a show, and I clip (muzzle, ears, tail, legs, bridlepath) a few days before I leave. Clean any tack that I won't need the day before the show. Try to pack the majority of stuff I will need to take a few days before I leave so I don't have so much to do the day of departure.
Night before: bathe, really focus on those white socks and getting the tail nice and tangle free. If my dressage time is early (8-9 am) I will braid the night before (minus the forelock). Clean tack that I used that day. Wrap right before I leave for the day, if needed.
Day of show: spot clean, possibly do a thorough bathing of socks again. Really thorough grooming and picking out of the tail. If any braids were rubbed out, I put those back up. Braid the forelock. I usually like to start this process 30-60 minutes before I have to tack up, just so I don't feel rushed. If I have help, I will do the stall while someone walks my horse; if not, I walk for 10-15 minutes beforehand, then pick out while horse is eating breakfast, and start the grooming process. If I'm late, picking out may wait till after my first ride.
I find the biggest key to good looking show horses is good grooming (and nutrition) ALL the time. I try very hard to keep my horse "show ring ready" all the time, so I don't have to do anything extraordinary, with the exception of braid.
So, I groom him very well most days (there are certainly days where I short change the grooming because of time, but because I groom him so well most of the time, it really doesn't matter). Curry, brush, rub rag. I typically spritz him with a baby oil/water solution before the rag and after he gets rinsed off, which helps keep him shiny and his perpetually dry skin under control.
I typically trim his whiskers once a week. I trim the top of his tail (he's an eventer) about every two weeks. Bridle path is a little less frequent because it is a chore (and we don't even discuss the ears). I keep his legs clipped to combat skin funk, so they get done about every 4 to 6 weeks, with maybe occasionally neatening around the cornary band and behind the fetlock. Mane is pulled as needed, which is about every 4 to 6 weeks. I wash his tail about once a week, depending on my mood.
Luckily, he's practically black and between good grooming and a fly sheet at night, he doesn't often get very dirty. Which is good, as I can't typically give him soap baths because of his skin issues. Day before shows is usually pretty much the same as every day, with the addition of washing his tail and his mane if it seems grimy. The day of, if he's dusty or muddy, he gets a very good rinse with clear water, then braided. And, that's it. I will braid the night before if we have to get an early start.
The grey horse I show groom is kept about the same as my horse. Clipping is kept up with, etc. I DO bathe him, a lot. When he's showing frequently, he usually gets at least one soapy bath a week. If he hasn't shown in awhile, he may get two or three baths the week leading up to the show. He then gets bathed the day of, and braided either the night before or day of.
The full routine generally depends on whether we're doing hunter, dressage, or an event, but generally, for a Sunday show the routine looks something like this:
Friday- Lesson, clip, pull mane (if needed)
Saturday- Hack, clean tack, make sure hay and water are on trailer
Sunday- Bath, braid while drying (if braiding), hook up trailer while she has a few minutes in her stall to drink some water and use the facilities , and then on goes a scrim/sheet and shipping boots and we're off. If I'm not braiding, I get hooked up and loaded with a clean horse in under an hour. It takes another hour if I'm braiding
Like yellowbritches, mine stays pretty clean and gets a good grooming every time I ride. She hates mud, and is a chestnut, so other than doing a Quicksilver on the socks, most of the time I really could pull her out of a stall and go show without doing anything. Regular upkeep and grooming makes day-of prep pretty minimal.
My routine for a Friday-Sunday show, Thursday schooling day when I was at a barn without grooms. I'd still take care of him now at shows but you're forced to pay the same no matter what, so I just take advantage of it...I probably do a better job anyway. Oh well, it's convenient.
I pull manes the weekend before, sometimes I can get away with skipping this step because I keep them pulled regularly. I clip legs at this time too. If his ears need to be clipped, I now pay a groom to do it because my horse lets him do it, not me!
Wednesday I clip bridle path, chin and muzzle. I wrap him and I would have a kid put him in the trailer for me Thursday morning so I wouldn't have to drive 45 minutes south to the barn, when the show was 20 minutes east of my house. Pack trunk and stick it in the trailer. School in the show ring Thursday afternoon, nothing extreme, he's been here millions of times and USUALLY doesn't have any problems.
He gets a nice sudsy bath after schooling. Usually I dilute shampoo but at shows I'd put it directly on and use a hard brush. Shampoo and condition tail, Show Sheen body and tail while damp. Take him on a walk, graze in the sun. When dry, I brush out the tail and braid it to make getting shavings out in the morning easier. Stick him in his stall, say good night, and take my tack home for a deep cleaning/conditioning.
Arrive late to the show the next morning because I always show late. Brag about how late I got to sleep in because I'm obnoxious like that.
Get a kid to take him on a walk while I clean his stall. Fill water, give him a flake of hay. I don't really do anything special before going into the ring, just brush off any dust (he's a dark bay who likes to stay clean!), hoof oil and tack up. When he's done with all his classes, he gets sprayed off and I put liniment on pretty much every where, especially his back and lower legs. Take him on another walk to dry off, pressure wrap and he goes back in his stall. Wipe my bridle down, put everything back in my trunk and go home.
I try and keep my horses show ready as well. Manes are pulled regularly, whiskers trimmed often, and daily head to toe grooming, and hoses off after working.
To cut myself a break, I will trim any extra whiskers, and feet, bathe, scrape and dry legs, add detangler to tail (unless im branding the tail), braid the mane, brush the horse off with clean brushes, wrap all four legs, and wait to load up.
I usually keep up with clipping, mane pulling, general good grooming and tack cleaning as it makes life easier for me. The weekend before the show I will do anything that might be considered time consuming, like pull the mane or clip up legs. Both get done every 4-6 weeks, but if it is close to a show, I will do it the week before the show. I will also do the rest of the clipping, as well, since I have a tight schedule during the week.
Depending on the show schedule, I will bathe the night before and pack up the trailer. I will often run the clippers over the nose, depending on when I did the overall clipping. The morning of, I will braid, then either give a good grooming or bath, as needed. I am very thankful for a dark-colored horse! While he is drying or eating, I will hook up the trailer, then wrap, load up and go.
After the show, trailer is cleaned and unloaded. Show tack gets cleaned as soon as possible, so it is ready to go with no fuss later. Show laundry is done and repacked right away, too.
I am fortunate to have my mom as my groom, so when at the show, she will help me tack up, hold as necessary, clean up at the ring, etc. I couldn't do it without her! For shows were we stable, the routine is not much different.
Usually, my show stuff is re-packed and ready to go within a few days of the last event. That means saddlepads, towels, etc., show clothes are all washed and repacked, haynet cleaned out, buckets dried and ready to go, and special equipment like martingales and second bridles are cleaned and re-packed.
So, in the 4-5 days before the next event, I clip/trim; stuff haynets; check that I really did re-pack the trunk and wash my showshirt and that my small stash of show-only grooming tools are in the trunk.
Day preceding: wipe tack (that I keep pretty clean on an everyday basis) and shampoo horse. Training-braid mane, if necessary.
My Rubbermaid show trunk is my everyday trunk, so it already contains my routine riding stuff, like my helmet and gloves and crops and med. kit, kleenex and hair things, cooler, stable sheet, and vet-care stuff.
This trunk is great, as it can sit out in the rain, act as mounting block and as chair.
I find the biggest key to good looking show horses is good grooming (and nutrition) ALL the time.
Exactly. Yes, you can last minute bathe, clip, pull, whatever, but overall coat/hoof/weight/health type of issues can't be fixed the day before.
I keep my horse's mane pulled & body clip/shave as needed year round. Farrier is done with the future show schedule in mind. Same for vet/maint. I may hose him off frequently, but try to only use soap once a week. I also paint his hooves before each hosing to limit the moisture. I am trying to wash his tail once a week this summer to see if it helps growth.
For shows: he gets his soap bath before he ships or the 1st day of the show. I will soap his mane a day or 2 before it has to be braided, same for his tail. It's really not that different I guess from the regular routine, just changing the timing around.
Day before: Pack the trailer with all tack and medicine in case. Bathe the horse really well. Bathe all the white parts of the horse with Quic Silver (a little on the expensive side but works AMAZING). Clip the horses socks or stockings. Clip ears, muzzle, bridle path, and underneath their chin (hate when they look like billy-goats). Brush tail thoroughly. DO NOT show sheen tail if you are going to braid because it makes it slippery for the braider. Braid the horse's mane/forelock the day before if you may be in a time crunch the next day. Use a jammie on the horse so he/she can't rub the braids. Clean all tack
Day of the show: Groom extremely well. Braid tail and wrap it with ace bandage. Make sure you didn't miss any hairs clipping. Wipe down tack if necessary. Clean and polish boots
Before walking into the ring: Lightly brush through the horses tail one last time. Paint the horse's feet with polish. Wipe down riders boots.
***Quick trick: Wipe rubbing alcohol on the horses muzzle and ears to make them look very shiny and if the horse has white on its face put some baby powder on it to make it stand out!