As the popularity of the Highland Pony grows, so does the desire to compete with the versatile breed in a variety of competitions. But just like with any breed, there are certain rules to follow in preparation of presenting a Highland Pony at a show, whether it is for showing a pony in hand or for a riding competition. Not following these recommendations will not bar a Highland from competition, but its handler or rider can expect to be placed very low in the standings if they are not followed. Many of these recommendations are made in order to make the ponies look their very best, but others are in place for the health and safety of the pony.
Whether a Highland is being presented for in hand or in a riding competition, there are certain preparations that are universal. First, the mane, tail and any feathering that appears on the legs should be left to flow freely, with no trimming or braiding. The pony should be thoroughly shampooed and washed, and groomed to not only look but to feel clean. Both the mane and the tail should be brushed out with a soft brush. There should be no cosmetics used whatsoever. Hooves should only be oiled and any excessive hair that may appear, under the chin for example, should only be brushed down just before entering the ring.
For the Highland's well being, if the riding or hunting competition is taking place in the winter, the pony may be clipped out, but taking care of the other recommendations made before. Legs should not be clipped and no other trimming is allowed. However, it should be noted that these ponies may be placed lower if the competition takes place in early spring, but this will largely depend on the views of the participating judge.
Spurs should never be used under any circumstances. It should also be noted that white markings, outside of a white star, are considered to be undesirable for the Highland Pony. Any kind of white marking, including white hooves or legs, will not be acceptable in the show ring.
For in hand classes, female handlers are recommended to wear a well cut skirt, which may be tartan if she wishes, or trousers, and may carry a showing cane. Men should wear a jacket, shirt and tie with trousers or a kilt, and carry a showing cane. Riding clothes are also allowed for men and children. Stallions should wear a stallion bridle with the choice of a white lead rope, chain or leather coupling under the chin. He should have a suitable control bit and a roller with a one side rein, correctly fitted. Mares and stock over three years should have a show bridle with brass buckles or a brass mounted head collar of good quality.
For the riding classes, all riders should wear either breeches and boots or jodhpurs and jodhpur boots. Tweed jackets are preferable to navy or black and should be accompanied by a shirt and tie. Riders will also need the current standard headgear, gloves, and a cane or whip, depending on the discipline. The tack of the pony should be immaculate, with the appropriate bridle and a well fitting saddle.