I don't do shows, nor have I had experience in a show barn prior to leasing a horse last month that is boarded at one (my lease is the farthest thing from a pretty little show horse! Lol).
One thing that really jumped out at me last night when I was out at the barn was the (what seemed to me) excessive hoof preparation/ prettying up for a show.
The horse in question was getting the walls of his hooves power sanded by his owner. Yep, power sanded. The owner had used a marker to note where she may have left some 'high spots', and then went over the hooves a second time with the sander (mind you, it could have had just a buffer style pad on it, i'm sure not gritty sandpaper, at least hoping not!). Then shoe polish (may have been just the term used for hoof polish, I didn't notice the container it was coming out of) was applied. It was white, not clear, and being put on white hooves. These hooves looked so smooth, like a baby bum.
The horses at this barn that are likely to go to shows are also fitted with a bustle (padded strap that goes under the tail) while in their stalls to help achieve the raised tail look.
Is this considered status quo for show barns (this is a morgan barn), or is it excessive? It pretty much blew my mind that so much was felt necessary to pretty up a horse for a show, but like I said, I don't show and would never think to do so much altering to a horse's already beautiful appearance. I've watched a 'big lick' Tennessee walker show once, and that just make me sick to my stomach.