Tips for Winter Show Preparation

Native specialist Aimee Devane gives us her tips for preparing ponies for winter shows.

With three qualified for London International Horse Show 2022, and over 20 past qualifications, native producer Aimee Devane knows a thing or two about producing ponies for winter shows. We asked her for her tips on preparing for showing when the weather is against us! This is what she told us…


I always clip mine for several reasons: from a welfare perspective, they are less likely to sweat and chill when worked, but they are also easier to keep clean, and the coat will lay flatter and sleeker in the ring. For the sake of a coat’s appearance, I clip early and allow time for it to come back a little bit. For example, for London International, I always clip mine in November, so that they get between a month and six weeks to grow back a little and for the pigment to return to the coat. If I am aiming to bring one out in early February, it will get clipped in late December. Dilute colours, black and some chestnuts need special consideration as their coats can look more ‘wishy-washy’ after clipping, and that’s not ideal, so get them clipped earlier than a bay. I blend the legs so that they don’t have lines and I never go near feather – especially on a breed that should have lots just in case.


If you’ve clipped your pony, then it should only need minimal bathing and will dry quickly. But if it’s not clipped, as well as being aware your pony may need an extra scrub, make sure that you are prepared properly for bathing as a hairy pony takes longer to dry and could catch a chill. Stay one step ahead and have your drying rugs at the ready and be prepared to need more than you would in the summer.

Feather, Manes and Tails

Regardless of whether you have clipped or not, legs will take longer to dry in winter, especially if your pony is a native with lots of feather. The same goes for native manes and tails. Be prepared for that!

Working In

Remember that lots of winter venues don’t allow lunging, even at bigger events such as LIHS. That means that if you’re bringing out a novice or a pony that requires a lot of work, get organised and work it properly the day before the show or even that morning if you have time before you set off.

Prepare for the Atmosphere

Most of us aren’t lucky enough to have an indoor arena at home, so be aware that a novice pony might find an indoor show’s atmosphere quite daunting. You can overcome that by attending clinics or by hiring a school. If you do hire, try to ask a friend to come along so your novice gets used to not just working indoors, but with company too.

Ask for Advice

If you’ve never been to a venue before but your friend or instructor has, ask them what it’s like so that you can be prepared. A novice pony might need you to feel confident in order to support them, so it’s better if you have a feel for the venue before you go. Despite having ridden countless times at Olympia, I still rang a fellow producer to ask about the new arena at the Excel as I didn’t show there last year. It can do no harm to give yourself a little ‘heads up’!

It might go wrong!

Even with the best preparation, a novice pony can make mistakes and you can’t control the atmosphere, so a door slamming etc might spook them on the day. Don’t worry. With the exception of London International Horse Show, these winter shows are not finals – there is always another day, especially with a novice.

The headline images were photographed by EquinePix and Real Time Imaging.
Aimee is photographed with her 2022 LIHS ride, Griseburn Lester.

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