Everything Else More...

e-Vent time: Filthy horses


A visiting horse with hardly any mane got micro-plaits…

Forgive me, call it old school… but what is it with people taking FILTHY horses affiliated eventing? I’ve only seen it a couple of times, and both times it was a fancy coloured horse, bizarrely! I thought the whole point of a having fancy coloured horse was to get people to look at you?!

There was one warming up for the dressage last year at Norton Disney and all the bits that wouldn’t be covered by a turnout rug were muddy: front legs including knees, and muddy back legs all the way up to flanks. This was definitely not just from trotting around the dressage warm-up either… it was dried mud of a totally different colour to the soil at Norton Disney. The horse may well live out, of course, but I’ve evented one out of the field before, and it’s not that difficult to spruce them up… this wasn’t at the crack of dawn either, so they couldn’t use that as an excuse. It was at least plaited, but 5 mins with hot water, elbow grease and few towels would have made a huge difference… and there was another there with a huge stable stain on its backside!

At Aston Le Walls a few years ago a coloured being warmed up for the dressage was absolutely disgustingly dirty, covered with stable stains – I would have been ashamed to take it out for hack, let alone out to an affiliated competition.


Showing aficionados might laugh, but they are plaits, albeit a bit football-ish…

With Thermatex and Coolex rugs proven to do a fabulous job of drying off a wet horse and keeping it toasty-warm, and a lot of yards boasting solaria now too, there really isn’t any excuse for not washing your horse before going out eventing!

Obviously if conditions on the day are vile (as at Tweseldown last weekend) nobody expects the horse to remain immaculate throughout the day, but it should at least come off the lorry clean!

I haven’t seen an unplaited one yet at the dressage for affiliated, although I realise it is technically acceptable. But as plaits only take 20 minutes or less to do, surely it’s an unwritten rule that you should make the effort. I know my everyday plaits (not sewn, because ever since I witnessed Ian Stark riding back from xc on an Advanced horse pulling out the elastic banded-plaits en route, I’ve reserved sewn plaits for 3-days) are rarely to perfectly-uniform HOYS standard, and I’m sure a Best Turned Out judge would have hysterics at them, but they are pretty tidy and it’s obvious someone has made the effort, which is all that matters, I think!

Tails too – I’m not a fan of pulling them any more, but tail rakes do a marvellously neat job while inflicting no pain on the horse. Or, if  you really want that tail wild and natural the rest of the time to keep the flies away, a nice tail plait finishes the picture off beautifully. But straggly droopy edges of tails leave me cold unless they are on a Native. It looks as if they’ve just dragged the horse in from the field!

Does anyone else think it is an insult to the judge, organiser, officials, volunteers etc to turn up on a horse that frankly most people would have been embarrassed to go up the road on?! Should it be in the rules that the horse should be turned out to a reasonable level, i.e. clean, tidy and plaited?

About the author



  • I couldn’t agree with you more………Plaiting takes 15 mins and shows that you have some pride, and if you have a light coloured horse that looks grubby after you have brushed the mud off, apply some water & shampoo & then rug if neccessary!
    I must confess if hacking out with all my kids we are never all spotless, but if we are going anywhere then I expect an effort to be made to look good – my 14 yr old has been known to plait her pony for local SJ comps and she makes a pretty good job of it.
    I am not a huge fan of the matchy matchy trend (& definitely would have neither the time nor the inclination to hget kitted out like that every time I ride), but I do think there is no excuse for turning up at a competition looking as though you CBA to nmake an effort.

  • I can see both side of this to be honest.. In the good old child free days, then yes of course every piece of tack was polished, the plaits were done to show standard, and the grey horse was shampooed to within an inch of her life. However with an active toddler, and a husband/rider who thinks turnout is the woman’s job I’m just not sure how we will fare this season. Maybe the tack will get its last clean a couple of days before an event, and the stable stains the night before rather than the morning of the event…. I’m not saying we plan to go out with a stable stain, but not saying it will never happen either…