A rider heads to her Turnout Inspection.

A rider heads to her Turnout Inspection.


Courtesy of Yvette Seger, Horse Management Guru

Preparing for TurnBACKs.

As you’ve figured out, there is no rhyme or reason to the order of my tips. So today I thought I would talk about something that we don’t get much experience with at our one day rallies in the Capital Region–Turnbacks! The purpose of the turnback is to ensure that your horses are groomed and comfortable after a day of work. Believe it or not, our goal is NOT to find places where we can take penalties–we really just want your wonderful horses and ponies to be comfortable, just like how you go back to the hotel and shower after a long hot day in a dusty barn!

Turnbacks occur approximately 1 – 1.5 hours after your last ride of the day. We check your horse, tack, and rider’s boots to make sure that you are ready to rock and roll with the next day’s competition. It is always wise to ask at the briefing what will be checked at turnbacks and what the expected timeframe is. Eventers and Show Jumpers usually have to present their horse’s jumping boots, so make sure you brush or hose them off and lay them out to dry if they need to be presented.

The most important part is getting your horse ready, and you should focus the bulk of your efforts on getting the sweat and arena dirt off of him/her before you turn your attention to your tack. At the VA Horse Center, we have the luxury of wash racks, so I would recommend that you hose your horse or at least sponge off or wet towel the major sweaty areas (gullet/chest, girth area, and between the hind legs.) This isn’t a full bath! Let your beastie dry, and go work on your tack (we’ll talk about this in a second.) If you braided, your braids MUST come out for the Turnback.

About 10 minutes before you want to present your horse for turnback, go over your horse with your regular grooming tools, being sure to pay attention to detail areas like the brow/ears, lower chest between the forelegs/elbows, and all around the hindlegs…DON’T FORGET TO PICK THE FEET!!! I always tell kids to run their hands all over their horse’s coats to feel for “sticky” areas. Find a sticky area–brush, brush, brush! Last details are to brush tail out and wipe eyes, nose and dock. Please, DO NOT BRING SOAKING WET HORSES TO TURNBACK! They can have one small wet spot, but seriously…what can we learn about your grooming if the horse is soaking wet???

Your tack should have been REALLY clean for your turnout inspection, so cleaning it after your ride should be fairly easy. The big areas that we are looking at are the girth, brow, reins, and flash/figure 8 of bridle, and the bit. Most of you guys know that my favorite tack cleaning tool is a toothbrush–it is amazing for getting sweat off of tack! I think the biggest “offense” that we see with the tack is kids NOT wanting to take their bridle apart to soak their bit. GAH! Please, whatever you do, take the bit off and soak it! Dried gunk on the bit is not only unpleasant to look at, but it can cause abrasions in your horse’s mouth–not nice!

The last piece is the rider’s boots. Make sure that you clean the soles and scrape sweat off the back (it is amazing how many people don’t realize that that white scuzz is sweat…) C2s and above should re-polish their boots. They should be presented with the trees in. Riders who ride in their paddock shoes also need to clean their boots–I recommend doing this right before they go to present.

Happy Grooming!