It can be quite difficult to choose and to create quarter marks that really flatter your horse, so we asked NSW-based showing guru, Madeleine Leva, for her top tips and tricks. As Madeleine explains, not all quarter marks suit all horses, so it all starts with choosing the most flattering style for your horse’s shape.
Madeleine says, 'Of course, it is important to consider the shape of your horse’s hindquarters when selecting your quarter marks, but the length of the back and neck should also be taken into consideration. The idea is to create the look of proportion and balance whilst enhancing the hindquarter shape.'
If you are creating quarter marks for the show ring, traditionally the checkerboard style is saved for open horses and hunter stripes are aptly named as they are used on hunter horses. There are variations within these traditions that you can experiment with to create the best look. Of course, you have all the choices if you are selecting quarter marks for dressage or eventing. And for something fun and a little unusual a quartermarking stencil is a great option (where competition rules allow).
Checkerboard styles can be the classic square shape, or they can taper into a point, and they can consist of very small to very large squares. The square size is usually down to personal preference and quarter-marking combs are available in a variety of sizes to make the job easier.
Creating a classic checkerboard pattern using a quarter-marking comb.
A classic square shaped checkerboard creates the illusion of length in the hindquarters. They are best for horses with longer backs as it can balance this out. The classic square checkerboard is best completed in larger squares, around 2 inches wide. Of course, this can be altered according to the size of your horse. Ponies would be better suited to a smaller size square.
A classic square-shaped checkerboard creates the illusion of length in the hindquarters.
A checkerboard that tapers to form an inverted pyramid shape draws the eye down the hindquarters. I have found these to be the most versatile style. It is a popular style on hacks as the squares can be made very small so are useful for filling a large space. The inverted pyramid also suits horses with shorter length through the back. If the horse is lacking a little behind, this style also draws attention away from hips that might be a bit more obvious.
On this older horse, the tapered quarter marks draw the eye away from the more prominent hip bone.
Flattering hunter stripes set using Smart Grooming Quarter-Marking Gel. The gel primes the coat and creates a smooth base for quarter marks. It dries with strong hold and shine, helping to lock the design in place all day.
Hunter stripes can also be adapted to create the most flattering style for each horse. They can be drawn down into three or four lines and finished with a brush so they are the same length, which is useful for horses with a fuller behind. For those lacking a bit, the brush can be curved as the hunter lines are finished, so they slightly taper and become longer in length from the hip downwards. This will draw attention away from the hip bone. Generally, three hunter stripes will suit ponies and four will suit larger horses. The very largest warmbloods may even fit five. I have always found that more rather than less hunter stripes are more flattering, so don’t leave more than an inch between each stripe.
Squared and tapered hunter stripes give a different look, drawing the eye to different parts of the hindquarter.
No quarter marks are complete without sharks teeth! Four is a good number if you prefer larger ones and six to seven if you prefer smaller. I find larger sharks teeth suit horses with a little more length in the body. Smaller sharks teeth are very flattering on a large hindquarter or a horse with less body length. Smart Grooming makes a brush especially designed for quartermarking, but if you are working on a small pony or prefer to create a small pattern then the Borstiq small body brush is great for this job.
The Smart Grooming Quarter Marking Brush is especially designed for quarter marking. It is made with 100% natural boar bristles which are short and tightly packed to create crisp, sharp lines or patterns in the coat.
I always like to finish my quarter marks by standing behind the horse, placing my brush right next to the tail and brushing a semi-circular line away from the tail and down the hindquarter towards the hocks. They tidy up any brush marks left by the sharks teeth and give your quarter marks a polished look.
Careful preparation of your horse’s coat will aid in perfecting your quarter marks. Clean hair is essential, along with removing as much loose hair as possible. I prepare the coat by spraying with water containing a small amount of Smart Grooming Super Shine Lotion. It is easier to create your patterns on wet hair and the lotion will ensure the coat stays flexible and gives it a nice shine. Using water makes it easier to fix any mistakes as you work. You can also the brand new Smart Grooming Quarter Marking Gel to prepare the coat, or simply finish your quarter marks with a generous spritz of Smart Grooming Quarter Marking Spray. This gives extreme hold, even in the pouring rain, but without any cracking or flaking that can happen with hairspray.
I recommend experimenting with quarter marks to determine which best flatters your horse. Take standing photos, and if possible have someone video you riding so you can see how they look in motion.
Practice makes perfect, and with the right products plus a steady hand you will be able to create the most flattering look for your horse.
Borstiq Small Body Brush Without Strap for small sharks teeth
Smart Grooming Quarter-Marking Brush for larger sharks teeth
I love the Smart Grooming show prep products for every aspect of turnout - gleaming coats, perfect plaits and stunning quarter marks. To see the full Smart Grooming range, available in Australia from Grosvenor Park Products, click here.