It's Showtime!

Tips for looking your personal best in the horse-showing arena.

Although judges are looking for the best horses and horsemen in a class, a polished and professional look completes a fine performance in the show ring like good china completes a gourmet meal.

AQHA Professional Horseman Holly Hover; Bobbi Pullin, wife of AQHA Professional Horseman Doug Pullin; and exhibitor Natalie Unger, a cosmetologist by trade, give their advice help you look your best the next time you step into the ring.

No. 1: Face

    • Confidence. From a judge's point of view, makeup doesn't do a lot for your final placing, but from an exhibitor point of view, it does make a significant difference in your confidence," Holly points out. "If you feel like you look good, you show it in the arena."

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    • Under the lights vs. outside. "When you're under the lights, your makeup has to be a little bit stronger and brighter," Natalie says. "(When showing) inside, I'm stronger with the rouge, (and I) use brighter lipstick and lip liners. When you're underneath the lights like that, with the hat, your eyes get lost. It's important when you're showing halter that you have eye contact with your judges at times. So I'm also stronger on the eyeliner, and use more mascara and darker eye shadow. "When you're outside, the light underneath your hat reflects off the ground. So I keep my makeup lighter."

No. 2: Hat & Hair

    • A cosmetologist's secret. Natalie has a weapon for keeping her hat on and flyaway hair under control. "I use a product called Helmet Head," she said. "If you have anything that flies away, just spray it and the spray keeps the hair down. If you have a hat that doesn't want to stay down, spray this real lightly in the brim, and it will stick."
    • Hat shape. "We have the hats professionally shaped for the faces," Bobbi says. "We prefer low crowns. If you have a lot of crown and you have a youth kid with a real small face, there's no balance once that hat is placed on top of her head. You've got to pull that crown down. We don't get carried away with the size of the brim. I don't like a ‘Flying Nun' look with the shape of the hat! For the norm, you have a 4- to 4.5-inch brim, but some of those brims are over that dimension, and it's too much, especially for kids' faces."

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No. 3: Hands

    • No flash! "I am against any flashy fingernails, any length to the fingernails," Bobbi says. "Of course, I want them neat and trim, but the French look with multiple rings is a no-no with me."

No. 4: Jewelry

    • "We always wear earrings," Bobbi says. "Something that pulls the color up, like tiny crystal earrings or a diamond stud. But not in the hunt seat classes. In those classes, just a tiny gold ball or a tiny stud. Anything overly done in English attire is not appropriate."

Don't Forget Your Performance!

    • "I don't care how pretty your makeup is, if the other person turns better than you, they're going to beat you," Holly points out. "Work on the turn!"