Tuesday, April 9, 2013

FAQ, Part 9

Do I have to wear leather gloves when showing hunter/jumper?

No, gloves are not necessary but they do provide a nice finishing touch to the rider's turnout in the hunter ring, keeping the hands discreet. The vast majority of riders do wear gloves to show.

If you choose to wear gloves, leather is a very nice traditional choice, although there are several alternatives made of other materials that can also look and feel good. As long as the pair of gloves is conservative (black, unless you are wearing brown boots in which case brown is more appropriate), clean and fit your hands, they will be acceptable in the show ring.

Can you wear a zippered shirt in the show ring? 

Show shirts with zippered fronts are more suited to the dressage ring than to the hunter or jumper rings. This is because the zipper is meant to be hidden beneath a stock tie. Chokers or stock ties are usually required as part of formal dress, therefore a zippered shirt worn without one could be considered illegal. Such a shirt could still be worn on a casual day in the jumper ring by itself or with a show jacket, but in any other situation it would be a risk to use one unless combined with a stock tie that covers it.

Nowadays there are shirts with wrap collars that are essentially built-in chokers, but these shirts are designed to look like a traditional show shirt from a distance, hiding the closures on the collar. Some judges or stewards might consider a zippered shirt to be similar enough to be acceptable, but it's better to check with the steward at each horse show than it is to just assume that it will be fine.

What is the best colour fly veil for a grey horse?

In most cases, the best colour of fly veil is the one that most closely matches the colour of the horse, though a black base will suit almost any colour of horse. A light grey horse can look good in an off-white or very light grey fly bonnet (pure white might make the horse look slightly yellow in comparison), and a darker grey horse could suit a medium grey or charcoal bonnet. Similarly, a chestnut often suits a brown fly veil, which can also look good on a bay if the colour of brown is exactly the right shade to complement the coat (otherwise, black is the way to go).

Of course, in the jumper ring, you can use any colour and there are lots of very classy-looking navy blue and even dark green bonnets out there for those who want to use barn colours or just want a different look. Remember that you can add colour to a neutral base with trim or cord, so there are lots of ways to make a fly bonnet original while keeping it relatively conservative overall.

Should you use clear or black hoof polish in the hunter ring?

Solid black-coloured hoof polish isn't usually seen in the hunter ring; either a naturally slightly-brown hoof oil/dressing or a clear polish would be much more suitable. These bring out and deepen the natural colour of the hoof instead of looking harsh and artificial.

Can jumpers wear only hind boots at shows?

Yes, in the jumper ring, you may use whichever combination of boots and bandages works best for your horse, or you may use nothing at all. As long as it's humane, it's up to you.

Can I tighten the curb chain on a hackamore?

Yes, you can tighten the curb chain or strap on a hackamore the same way you would for a bit, although the actual fit might need to be slightly different than it would be for a curb bit. The looser you make the curb strap, the more time it will take for the full effect of the hackamore to come into play during your rein aid, giving the horse a chance to  respond to the lighter feel before it is amplified. If the curb strap is too loose, however, the hackamore will move around on the face since there is nothing else holding it in position, making the standard 45 degree rotation of the shank that is typically used to adjust curb chains on bits sometimes too loose.

You can try making your curb strap slightly tighter or looser and seeing how your horse responds, as there are many factors involved and one horse might appreciate having the hackamore stabilized more with a relatively snug curb strap while another might enjoy having the gentler action of a looser curb strap. The 45 degree rotation of the shank is a good place to start, but there's no reason not to modify the tightness slightly if that standard tightness doesn't seem to be ideal. Using a flat leather curb strap instead of a curb chain will also make the curb milder and make it a bit kinder to play around with adjustments.


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