When it comes to showing (and horses in general), I'm all old school. In my opinion, classical and traditional is the best way to go. That's why it annoys me when people come up with these ridiculous gimmicks to "improve" (and I use the term lightly) their horses and their chances of winning. I don't understand how anyone can think that these things look good. You might get a good laugh out of some of this stuff. I did.
First on my list is the infamous grease. A very, very conservative amount can look nice on certain horses, like Arabians, but nowadays people like to just slather it on.
This horse looks like plastic. It's like the groom took a big gob of the stuff and smeared it all over. It's not like there's goo on the horse; the horse is inside the goo. Gross.
Which brings us to the second subject: clipping. Again, clipping can make or break a horse's appearance. Clipping the whiskers and the fuzzies under the jaw makes the horse look tidy and well kept. But when you completely shave off everything on the horse's face, it starts to look goofy. That combined with the grease makes the horse look like a Breyer model. You gotta have some hair or else it looks fake. I like to see natural ears as well. It looks nice when the ear fur is just trimmed, not completely shaved. But that's just my personal preference and I also think it depends on the horse.
Next, we have the lovely tail extensions. I went to a few shows last year and I kid you not, almost all of the horses had fake tails and all of them looked like the one in the picture. It was terrible. It was like the exhibitors all had brain farts. What the hell were they thinking? I don't even know how you can't realize how yucky that looks. Ye gods.
Some of the extensions didn't even match the real color and you could see where the real hair ended and the fake stuff started. It just hung there and didn't move with the real tail. To be honest, I've never personally seen a fake tail that wasn't obvious. And trust me, most judges don't go for gadgets like that any more than I do. At least in open shows they don't.
Another thing people will do is if their horse has a clubbed foot, they'll epoxy the hoof and cover it with polish. Why??? So your horse has a minor flaw. So what? Every horse has some kind of imperfection. Everybody knows that. You should be proud of your horse, flaws and all. Don't try to cover up every little detail you don't like. It turns the judges off.
Now this last one is the only thing that actually makes me angry. Look closely at this horse's feet.
You see those huge, square shoes that make his feet look twice as big as they should be? They do that so they can have as big and heavy a shoe as possible so the horse lifts his feet higher. The horse in the photo doesn't look at bad as a lot of the ones in my area. I should get pictures sometime. Most of them have flat, cracked hooves and are long overdue for a trim. They also have no heel whatsoever. If you've gone to any draft shows, you've probably seen it. They even shoe baby ones like that. They often have arthritis before they even reach the double digits, which is why you never see any older horses at the fair and whatnot. You won't see any working plow horses shod like that.
What's weird is that most of the draft people I've talked to are pretty decent and they seem to love their horses. It's like it just doesn't register with them that they're damaging their horses. A lot of show abuse cases are like that. Most owners are probably raised using certain methods and they think it's just the way things are done. Sad.