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Show preparation...
 

Washing
The show preparations, a complete ritual, begin with a thorough washing, because a clean horse is much easier to work on. Subsequently, before we can carry on, the horse needs to dry off, after which we can really get started.

Clipping the legs
Clipping a horse is a very meticulous job. It does not mean that the horse will be clipped all over his body, only certain parts of the body get a treatment. Take Anthal for instance, we will start at the bottom, clipping the lower part of his legs, just above his feet, clipping only the white hairs with an electric clipper. 'you should only clip the white hairs, never touch the black hairs on the cannons. If you clip these, you will get an awful greyish colour in return. Nevertheless, if a horse has for example three black legs and a white leg, you do need to clip the black coronet bands and fetlocks. If you don't, it will look very shabby'. When working on the hind legs, we usually knots the horse's tail, because the 3mm clipper blades clip the thicker tail hairs just as easily. A, It would really be a shame to damage a beautiful long tail, as a long tail is one of the Arab's greatest assets. 

Clipping the manes
Now that we have tackled the legs without much fuss, the manes are next. From the ears down he slowly and gently starts clipping downward on the mane, from a point directly even with the back of the ear, holding down the hairs that should not be clipped with his free hand. A rigorous 20 cm comes off, because this, will accentuate the long well arched neck,. This clipping is done with a very fine 0,5mm blade. To tidy up the edge of the mane he turns the clipper blade at right angles to the mane, thus marking a defined edge. Nowadays the horses are often shown carrying their manes either naturally, or with the upper part nicely braided.

Clipping the ears
Some years ago it was allowed to clip the ears on the inside as well as on the outside, when entering horses in shows, but recently the WAHO has put an end to this and has imposed strict regulations concerning this item. The hairs on the inside ear are now thought to be very important to the horse's health and well-being, so it is forbidden to clip the ears on the inside. The WAHO disciplinary committee considers that a horse should look as natural as possible when shown. Occasionally you can find pictures of excessively clipped ears in fancy American magazines.

Clipping the ears may require a lot of time and patience, even for people with experience. He uses the 3mm blades again, only trimming the hairs from the edges of the ear and leaving a small tuft of hair on the top of the ear. Abigail explains, 'This little tuft makes the ear look longer and therefore more elegant. It also accentuates the shape of the ear'. Some horses don't mind the ritual at all, standing still patiently, but other horses are not as easy to convince that cooperation is best for all parties involved. If the horse is nervous and impatient, it is better to fold the ear in half vertically and hold it firmly with one hand, subsequently pinching the ear shut and using a finishing trimmer to remove the hair from the edges of the ear. In this way, we avoid the risks of cutting the ear or clipping too much hair.

Clipping the head
Then it is time to clip Anthal's head. We make a triangle shaped pattern between the poll and the eyes, clipping with smooth and regular upward strokes. We don't clip around the eyes, as this part will be done differently. Besides, the electric clipper is too big for such delicate work. When the triangle is finished, We continue working towards Anthal's nostrils, changing the triangle shape slowly into a diamond one. The cheeks won't be clipped, the hair under his chin between the cheeks towards the throat latch will be, however. The longer hairs on his muzzle, chin en nostrils remain untouched (WAHO regulations again).

 

Clipping around the eyes
When you see pictures of Arabs, they usually have huge dark eyes. Is this all natural or are do they wear make-up? Let me tell you how we, at Arabian Fantasie Stud,  make those eyes look striking. This can only be done in horses that have a dark pigmented skin, like Anthal. Using an ordinary, yet raiser sharp blade -the type which thousands of men use every morning- We shave Anthal's eyelids. Taking extreme care and leaving the eyelashes intact, we keep the eyelids closed and the skin stretched to prevent cutting the skin. A wrinkle in the skin will undoubtedly cause a cut. We warn severely, 'Don't try this at home. You need a lot of practise and sensitivity to be able to do this. Besides, We do not shave every horse this way, only the ones that are truly relaxed. You can seriously damage the horse's eye if he moves at the wrong moment'. We like to do this part of the job alone and quietly, so we can really concentrate. When we are finished, We put a little balm on the skin, and said, ' the skin around the eyes is usually chapped after this treatment, so I like to sooth it with a nice moisturiser'.

Grooming
When all the clipping is done, it's time to remove all the loose hair. First, Abigail unravels the manes and tail just using her fingers, after which body, manes and tail are groomed using a soft brush, and finishing with a soft cloth to make Anthal shine and gleam. Applying a little baby oil to this cloth, Abigail lifts up Anthal's tail, 'When he whirls through the ring, raising his tail, even that part of his body needs to be clean and shiny,' she says laughing.

Final touch
Abigail, proud owner of this handsome sire, now moves towards the 'beauty chest' and reaches for a spray of show shine. Although you would hardly think it necessary, she sprays the entire body except for his head. She explains, 'it is important to keep at least 20 cm distance when spraying, otherwise he will look stained.' A metallic, dazzling shine is the result. The tail can be treated in just the same way; although it is better not to spray the head because it would hurt the eyes. So she puts a little bit of show shine on a soft cloth and gently rubs her darling's face with it.

Making up
Anthal is almost ready now, but still needs a bit of make up. Abigail picks up a little jar from the beauty chest, which reads 'highlighter'. It's a greasy substance which she applies in small amounts around the eyes and on the high cheekbones. She also applies it to Anthal's nostrils. This high lighter merely accentuates the already dark facial parts. Abigail recalls, ' This high lighter used to be available not only in colourless, but also in black. Many horse-owners used it when showing horses, especially on grey horses, which would get a dramatic expression due to this black make up. But again, under the new WAHO regulations, this is no longer allowed'.

 

 

Hoof polishing
Hoof polishing with lacquer is also prohibited, nowadays only colourless grease is allowed when participating in shows.  But multi-champion Anthal won't be bothered, he wins champion titles and premiums anyway. 

Dressing up
Finally, Anthal's regular stable halter is removed and we put on a refined yet strong show halter. Then the handler needs to get changed. Although he is not to be judged, he has to look smart just the same, preferably wearing all white clothes. Then, at last:

It's showtime!

 


finally...

Lucky forelocks

Many people agree that the Arabian Thoroughbred is the epitome of beauty and grace. According to Persian myths and legends it is the essence of this breed. The Encyclopaedia of the Horse explains the origins of this magnificent animal as follows: When God wanted to create the horse, he spoke to the south wind 'I want to create a horse from you, Condense!'. The south wind obeyed and condensed itself. Then the archangel Gabriel appeared, took a handful of condense, which he gave to God, who created a bay animal and He said 'I will name you horse. I will make you an Arabian horse and I will give you the colour of an ant. Your forelock will carry luck. People will follow you wherever you go. You will be fit for pursuit as well as for flight. Your back will carry fortunes'. And God gave the horse a white star on its forehead as a token of victory and happiness.*
 
Mankind enjoys the creation of the Arabian Horse, but likes to adds a little extra to God's creation: man likes to clip and groom the horse. The white star has been replaced by a clipped triangle.