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The Westphalian horse is relatively uncommon outside of Europe but is becoming more of a regular in the United States and even in other countries. The demand for the Westphalian as a slightly smaller warmblood competitive horse continues to increase and it is more common to see these horses at exhibitions and shows throughout the world. As with all competitive types of shows the horses will be presented as per the show rules and regulations, but there also some ways and ideas to prepare the Westphalian for almost any type of show to highlight this outstanding breed.
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Since the Westphalian is typically a solid colored horse with white allowed only on the face and lower legs, the emphasis in preparing the horse for show is adding to the natural luster or bringing out the natural gleam of the coat as well as ensuring that the mane and tail highlight the horse. To bring out the best in the coat a good quality specialized horse shampoo can be used the day prior to the show. It is important to wash the horse at least a day before the show to allow the coat to lie back down naturally and have each hair replenished with the natural oils of the coat. There are several show shine shampoos and conditioners that are designed for specific coat colors to bring out any highlights or to deepen and enhance colors without changing them. It is always a good idea to follow the shampooing with a good quality coat conditioners, either a rinse out or a spray on after the coat is damp to dry.
The mane of the Westphalian is typically pulled for show which will make it easier to braid or plait if required. Wash and condition the mane and tail using a good quality horse mane and tail product or products. While the mane is still wet, pull the long, underside hairs from the mane by wrapping two or three hairs around the handle of a grooming brush or comb or using a round wooden dowel or spindle. If the horse has just been bathed the hair will come out much easier. Only ever pull from the underside of the mane until the long hairs have been removed to the desired length. Clippers can then be used to clip the bridle path, the area right behind the ears and slightly back of the ears, to make a neat presentation.
The Westphalian is usually shown with the tail left long and natural, but clipped in a flat bob about at the hock level. This is best done with the tail in the natural position rather than holding the tail up and back, which will lead to a ragged cut or a cut on an angle. The tail should not be shorter than the hock as this tends to make the horse look slightly out of balance and takes away from the natural presentation.
A competitive Westphalian will typically be shod, although a pleasure riding horse may be left with natural hooves. In most competitive events there are regulations as to shoeing the horse and they should be carefully reviewed if you have any concerns about shoeing.
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