**4 weeks until RPSI inspection**

Everyone’s seen them. Those horses with coats with a mirror finish shine. The ones who stand out glossier even then the magazine pages they adorn. I saw some of these impossibly clean, impeccably shiny horses up close and personal at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair last year. One of them decided she really, really liked my new “jumper” hoodie and came in for a better look. As the young filly nuzzled my hood and her handler and I laughed, I was astonished at the almost dazzling quality of the filly’s coat.

Hunters like a nice shine, but it’s not even close to the shine game seen at in-hand classes. And I feel like some of the shiniest ponies around can be seen at the Royal. I knew I was going to have to step-up in a big way if I wanted to move Star into the next level of shine.

First, we start at the basics. Shine comes from oils, and oils come from sebum production of the body. Ergo, healthy body equals a healthy sebum production. We have to look inside, so that we can improve the outside.

When I first got Star, I put her on a ton of supplements. It was serious overkill and I’ve scaled things back significantly over the last 13 months. Besides 24/7 hay, water and salt, I feed a multivitamin, soy beans, and mixed vegetable oil. This definitely keeps Star in nice condition. She looks healthy and shiny, but I wondered if there wasn’t more I could do.

After a heavy deworming schedule, we finally got a clear fecal egg count. That issue managed, I got her blood panel done. That also came back stellular. Confident I’d gotten Star as ship-shape as possible on my own, I was more than willing to turn to others with more experience.

K recommended I reach out to T, a friend of my coach who shows ponies in-hand. Having zero shame, I sent T a message on facebook explaining who I was, what I was looking for, and if she’d mind an in-depth email full of questions. Thankfully, T is awesome and said she’d be happy to help.

The first thing she recommended – and I think this is a really important point for anyone who’s always dreamt of a massive shine – was grooming twice daily. Not only does this up the clean coat factor, it evenly distributes the body’s natural oils. It’s also a heck of a lot of work. Don’t let anyone try to dupe you in believing you can get shine without elbow grease. What’s that old adage? Something about grooming essentially being the process of transferring the dirt from the horse to one’s own person. Times that by 100 when grooming for shine.

Another point T was quite firm on, was ensuring I add brewer’s yeast to Star’s supplements. “It just makes everything work better,” she advised. I added it to Star’s supplement bags and haven’t looked back.

Getting our shine game on.

Getting our shine game started in May.

Pushing things a bit more, I recently added both flax and paprika to the mix. Star lives outside 24/7, and while it’s much better than it was last year, she’s getting a bit sun bleached. I tried keeping a sheet on her, but it is way too hot and she was coming in wet. I’m hoping the extra omegas from the flax and the copper from the paprika help Star keep more of her sooty countershading. It’s important to note that paprika can/will test positive in rated shows, because it contains capsaicin. Since we’re basically out of options for Trillium, it’s not something I’m concerned about at the moment.

Of course, on the day of, we’ll be grooming and spraying and layering on the extra shine. But that’s another tale for another day. For now I will feed and groom until my arms are sore. Anything for a little bit of more of that shine…

Oh, and if you have any tips and/or tricks for me, please feel free to let me know.

Christine Sharpe is a Canadian who grew up riding Hunter/Jumper in the Southern USA. Now living in Toronto, she is a thirty-something who is recently back to riding after four years off and having her first child. Christine is aiming her Thoroughbred mare, Star, toward the Jumper Circuit and Warmblood Breed Inspections. She struggles daily to juggle family, work, and her equine lifestyle, with occasional success.

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