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Horse Grooming Tips for a Summer Show or Competition

Horse Grooming Tips for a Summer Show or Competition

Loz Dorey |

You’ve dedicated countless hours to riding and training, meticulously managing your horse’s health and exercise routine, and now they are in peak condition for the summer. With show day approaching, it’s time to perfect their coat to ensure they look stunning in the ring. Here are our tips and top products to achieve a flawless groom for your horse, ready for a show or competition.

A stunning finish - Full clip with A2 fine blades @Smart Clip


With some horses producing a thick summer coat, summer clipping has become increasingly popular to keep equines comfortable when working in the heat. Breeds such as cobs, draughts and thick coated ponies can benefit from full clipping all year round.

Our A2 coarse blade for heavy-duty clippers leaves a natural looking finish akin to a smooth summer coat. This blade is great for thicker coated breeds and those with Cushing’s to keep them cooler without giving them a short or obvious clip. It’s a great choice for a smart but natural looking show finish. Our popular A2 coarse blades cut to 4.5mm, similar to covercote blades. A longer cut can also be achieved with A5 clippers, using No. 6FW and No. 5FW clipper blades to offer 4.8mm and 6.4mm clip lengths.

Mr Pegs clipped using the A2 coarse blades by @Bonnie Fishburn Eventing

Eventers and horses in very fast, regular work over the warmer months may require a shorter clip to allow them to stay cool and reduce the loss of precious electrolytes through heavy sweating. Our A2 medium clipper blades for lighter coloured coats, and A2 fine and superfine blades can be considered for these hard-working equines. However care must be taken not to clip the coat too short to ensure the remaining hair cover provides adequate protection from the sun’s powerful rays.

TOPTIP: If your horse or pony needs a trim before a show, aim to body clip at least 10-14 days before the big day.

Clipping at least a week in advance will give any clip lines time to even out, any clipping issues a chance to be resolved or skin reactions time to settle down. These issues are usually avoided by:

  • Preparing the coat well before clipping
  • Ensuring your clipper is cleaned and serviced
  • Using freshly sharpenedor new clipper blades and applying the correct  
  • Using the correct clipper oil.
  • Washing off or hot clothing your horse after clipping.

Read our blog here for more useful tips.

Full clip and hog by @Smart Clip


Leg blending is becoming increasingly popular. This technique of fading the longer hair on the lower legs from above the knee into the shorter hair of the upper legs gives a seemless, natural look to really impress the judges.

Medium duty A5 horse clippers can be used with a variety of blades or combs to achieve the graded finish required for blended and reverse blended legs. Our Royale and MD Roamer clippers offer a compact clipping solution and will happily hog, keep on top of feathers and carry out all trimming duties too with a selection of wide and narrow blades available.

For breeds with fluffy legs and light to medium density hair, our Showmate II cordless trimmer can neaten up finer hair and when used with the supplied combs, is a great handy tool for intricate leg blending, trimming coronets and heels.

For full leg clipping, using a heavy-duty clipper is the most efficient way to remove coarse feathers. Opt for a selection of A2 blades to choose the clip length that best suits your horse.


Careful trimming is a great method to give definition and enhance the look of your horse. However, always check the showing rules and regulations for your intended classes beforehand, as some breed societies may have different rules for what is and isn’t accepted when it comes to trimming up.

It’s always best to start with a clean coat before reaching for your trimmers so that you can clearly see how the coat lays and identify the areas where it needs attention. Trimming or clipping a clean coat is so much better for your handset and blades and will give you the best possible finish.

Areas to trim:

  • Mane
  • Bridle path / top knots
  • Tail
  • Under the jaw
  • Back of the knees and legs
  • Fetlocks
  • Mustaches
  • Feathers
  • Outside of the ears*

Trimming excess hair from the outside of your horses’ ears can help to provide definition. However, avoid clipping the hair on the inside of the ears as this provides protection from the sun, water and insects.

Trimming the sensory whiskers around the muzzle and eyes is a highly controversial subject. The practice of whisker trimming is banned in several European countries and is not accepted in the UK under the FEI rules. When trimming around the face, ensure to guard the sensory hairs from accidental removal.

A small cordless trimmer is the ideal handset to neaten up faces, jaw lines, ears, heels, legs and all the hard to reach areas for even the most sensitive of horses. Choose a powerful but compact trimmer with a quiet operation to carry out quick and delicate touch ups. See Alice Fox-Pitt give Shetland pony Sir James a trim ready for the SPGN racing season with the Showmate II horse trimmer here.


Whether you prefer a straight cut, showjumper style mane or a more natural look, our coat rakes and grooming scissors combined can give you just the look you’re after with no pulling required.

Coat rakes gently thin out a thick mane to help it to lay over the correct side. Team with thinning scissors or a thinning knife to complete a pulled look to leave a natural finish without the discomfort.

Mane trim using coat rakes and thinning scissors @Bonnie Fishburn Eventing

Alternatively blunt cut and plait the maneusing a comb and finishing scissors for a neat, elegant groom. The size of your plaits can make all the difference to enhance your horse’s neck.

A heavy-duty clipper will hog quickly but for an seemless finish, medium duty clippers with a choice of blades mean you can blend the clipped mane seamlessly into the neck for a flawless finish.


Coat rakes are great tools for humanely thinning out the sides of the top of the tail to create a rounder looking rump, giving the back end the appearance of more strength and power! For a defined shape to the top of tail, our A5 clippers or Showmate II trimmer can be used with combs to give that perfect ‘v’ shape.

For a final finish, trim the end of the tail level at the bottom. For thick tails, you can even use your clippers instead of scissors to bunch the ends of the tail together and trim it level.                                                                                         


Even when you’ve arrived at the show you may still need a few last-minute touch ups. Our compact Showmate II trimmer with its own handy carry case is perfect for taking along in the car or lorry for quick, neat detailing so not a single hair is left out of place. 

Apply coat gloss or shine to your horse’s clean coat to enhance their natural colour, dark points, bring out dapples and enhance their muscles.  Don’t forget to address their hooves too with a hoof shine product for a polished, clean look. Check your breed society rules whether to opt for natural or black colour dressings.

When you’re ready to head to the ring, don’t forget to give your horse a quick spritz with fly repellent to keep irritating flies at bay and avoid your horse ruining his outline trying to swat them away!



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