If you've been to any kind of horse show, you've probably seen horses that resemble dolled up robots. Meaning, they seem to have no mind of their own and they have so much makeup and fake accessories that it makes you wonder if the horse would even be recognizable without them.
Tail extensions, overdone grease, shoes that are a size too small. And the more evasive things like tail blocking, gingering, wiring their mouths shut, drugging them, soring, pads, chains, and all other manners of torture that people come up with. And for what? A piece of plastic and maybe a little money? Come on.
As for me, I'm bringing back oldschool. You know, the good ol' days when pleasure horses actually had a pulse and fake tails hadn't been invented yet?
I braid Vic's tail into a dozen little braids the night before a show and take them all out and brush it before the class. It looks great, it adds volume, and I don't need any cheesy artificial enhancers. That's how my trainer did it, and her trainer before that. Tail extensions are hideous and unnecessary. Take some time to do it right. End of story.
Generally speaking, show horses are naturally beautiful. If you take the time to groom them to perfection and get them looking gorgeous, you do not need fake crap to get the judge's attention. Judges even favor natural horses. It's true. I've talked to many judges and most of them aren't fond of fake accesories.
And like I've said before, your attitude is everything. Even if your horse isn't the most over-the-top stunning example in the class, your attitude can win it for you. If you walk into that ring like you know what you're doing and present your horse in a way that screams "Look at us and give us first place because I worked for this and I am DAMN proud of my horse", you will get the judge's attention and you will stand out. This is what the industry needs. Exhibitors that win with nothing but skill, attitude, and a good horse. It would only take a few to make a difference. People would see that fake theatrics aren't what wins it, and they'd start to rethink it. The honest exhibitors could be the new trend setters, and it would actually be a good trend for a change.
Showing used to be about exhibiting your horse's natural beauty. Makeup does not enhance a horse's beauty, 1) because they're made perfect already and 2) it looks like absolute shit and gives the impression that you're trying to hide something or you're trying too hard or you're not confident in your horse. Or all of the above. Which is pretty sad.
Put a little effort and elbow grease into your horse instead of going the easy way around and buying fancy gadgets that look like shit. Your horse will thank you, and you will be a better all around exhibitor.