Horse Showing

Finishing the Forelock for Halter-Horse Showing

November 20, 2013

Customize the forelock to flatter your halter horse’s head.

Every horse is different. Choose a forelock finish that best flatters your halter horse’s head. At left, his mare’s thin forelock and cowlick makes double banding the best option. At right, this gelding’s thick forelock is best suited for a single braid, which allows judges to see his forehead. Journal photos.

Every horse is different. Choose a forelock finish that best flatters your halter horse’s head. At left, this gelding’s thick forelock is best suited for a single braid, which allows judges to see his forehead. At right, this mare’s thin forelock and cowlick makes double banding the best option. Journal photos.

By AQHA Professional Horsewoman Margo Ball in The American Quarter Horse Journal.

What’s the best look for your horse in the halter pen?

The decision should be based on a lot of factors, including hair texture, thickness and the shape of your horse’s head.

Remember, says AQHA Professional Horsewoman and judge, Margo Ball, your main purpose is to flatter the shape of your horse’s head.

“We’re going to look at two horses in our barn with two very different forelocks,” Margo says. “It often takes old-fashioned trial and effort to figure out what’s best for your horse.”

Thin Forelock Solutions

This mare has a thin forelock with fine fair that has a cowlick in it on one side. She also has a lot of feathery guard hairs.

Normally, I’d just use one band on thin hair. But because she has that cowlick and guard hairs, I’m going to use two bands. I use brown bands because I like them to blend.

The “Showing to Win: Showmanship at Halter” DVD illustrates the standards for the class and provides you with the information you need to practice, plan and successfully perform a showmanship pattern.

Start with clean hair. Before I band, I put a little mousse or grooming product in the hair to help hold it together; that’s especially helpful in controlling guard hairs like these. Another option is to use clear horse makeup product because it’s thick and not greasy. Do not use anything greasy like baby oil.

I take a comb and divide the forelock in two, with an upper and lower section.

As you put the bands in, remember to pull down, just like you do when you are banding a mane, so the band won’t stick up. Her cowlick makes it really tough to pull down. You also want to make sure the band is centered on her forehead.

Use a little grooming product to slick the hair down before trimming the guard hairs. If you use clippers, you risk nicks and clipper marks, so I use small scissors. Be careful not to trim the forelock hair. The fine guard hairs are not part of the mane hair, and they won’t get any longer. Be careful with the scissors or you’ll end up without a forelock!

I often use two bands like this on a performance horse, too, because one band doesn’t always hold the forelock securely enough.

The Thick Forelock

This gelding has thick, bushy hair, though it is still a little fine.

Remember, you have to try different things to see what will best flatter your horse.

I’ve already trimmed his bridle path pretty far forward to thin out his forelock, but it’s still pretty thick. I think the best option for him is a single braid.

Again, start with clean hair. Before I braid it, I’ll put a little mousse or conditioning product in the hair.

In the “Showing to Win: Halter” DVD, AQHA teamed up with well-respected AQHA Professional Horsemen, judges and world champion exhibitors and coaches Michael Colvin and Jackie Krshka. They walk you through typical showmanship maneuvers, scores and penalties and offer advice on planning how to execute patterns.

Comb out the hair with a fine-toothed comb, and then part it into three equal sections. As you braid, you still want to pull down just like you do when you band. Be sure to braid it tightly. He doesn’t have the guard hair and cowlick problem that the mare has, but he still has a few stray hairs. Again, I’ll trim those with scissors.

To finish, I spray a little bit of finishing spray on a rag and wipe it on that braid. Most horses – especially if they are touchy about their head – feel better with you wiping their faces with a cloth or towel. I like that better than spraying them in the face.

Margo Ball of Fort Collins, Colorado has been training and showing for almost 40 years and has been an AQHA judge for more than 25.

AQHA Member Benefit Spotlight

Already preparing for next show season? Did you know that members can stay up-to-date on the latest American Quarter Horse show schedule and approved classes online? Check it out or see a complete listing in The Journal.

AQHA Video

AQHA Professional Horsewoman Stacy Huls gives step-by-step instruction on how to braid your American Quarter Horse’s mane for English classes like hunter under saddle, pleasure driving and hunter hack. From the mane to the forelock, Stacy provides the information you need to get your horse looking good for the show arena.