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Turnout - What a BSPS Judge is looking for
Hints on Turnout for Show & Show Hunter Pony
Written by Dawn Christie

Washing 

There is no point in spending time turning out your pony for a show unless it is a clean pony!


Flies are attracted more to sweating, dirty ponies more than clean ones so bathe your pony regularly during the summer months. Shampoo your pony the day before the show as the coat then has time to settle. For a gleaming finish, use a cloth to wipe over coat gloss. 

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Trimming 

A plastic safety razor instead of scissors is safer to trim whiskers. Trim away a small section of mane behind the ears which makes the bridle headpiece sit better and makes it easier to put in the first plait. Similarly, the mane can be trimmed at the withers so as not to interfere with the saddle. Clipping out white socks makes it easier to keep them white, and trimming the hair around the coronet gives a neat and tidy look to the foot. Feathers on show animals (not M&M) are usually trimmed out. If this is cleverly done it can give the appearance of more "bone" to the limbs. 

Pulling the tail is HIGHLY favoured against shaving the sides of the pony's tail. This is easier to do when the pores are more open after exercise. To trim the length of a pony's tail ask a friend to help by placing their arm underneath the ponies dock then run your hand down the length of the tail and trim ("bang") to a length level with the pony's chestnuts . A Hunter Pony tail may be slightly shorter. Too long a tail gives the appearance of a long pony.

Plaiting 

The way in which you plait can do a lot to improve the appearance of your pony. Small dainty plaits on show ponies will make a thick neck look better proportioned whilst fewer large plaits built up along the crest and will make a long thin neck appear to carry more muscle. When plaiting for a show, save time by threading lots of needles beforehand and stick them into the front of your sweater so that you don't lose them! Setting Gel can be used to prevent any stray hairs in the plaits.


The plaits should NOT be dressage like and are usually odd in number 7, 9, or 11 along the neck, making an even number with the forelock.

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Quarter Marks 

Used correctly these can improve quarters. Chequer board patterns for show ponies should have the top line of squares parallel to the ground and not the pony's quarters.


"Block" type squares are more suitable for Show and Working Hunter Ponies. Sharks teeth can be used on the flanks and can make a weak second thigh look stronger. Vertical brush marks either side of the tail make the quarters look stronger and symmetrical when standing from behind if done properly.


It is made easier to do all of these patterns if the coat is dampened first and marks are made across the lie of the hair.

Finishing Touches 

A little recognised equine shine product around the eyes, muzzle and beneath the pony's tail enhances the appearance but any other make- up on the pony is to be discouraged! Warm water with a little vinegar  added and used with a body brush takes away any excess top grease from the coat and equine fly spray will stop flies.

Finally, a clean pony deserves clean well fitting tack to enhance the overall appearance. Browbands should be the correct size, not "drooping" and not too "bling" on show ponies! If necessary a deeper noseband can improve a "plain" head. Numnahs (preferably a fine sheepskin) and saddles should be well fitting for both the pony and rider.
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