I highly recommend pulling his mane to an even 4-6 inches. If its thinner you can even go so long as 8 inches. Braid up in to little hunter braids. The trick to REALLY GOOD BRAIDS is once you've braided and stitched the mane in place is to go back and snip the tiny askew hairs that pop out. It gives it a clean look. Don't pull these hairs as you can easily screw up a braid.
The black jacket should be fine. I just ment the horses tack should be the same color. A bridle girth and saddle all with different shades of brown, does not make a put togeather picture.
You want to make it simple for the judge. The normal instinct when judging anything, is to see the flaws and then build back up with the lovely correct things.
So the more you minimize faults by doing things like, wearing black gloves, the judges eye will more easily see how nice and straight the line from your elbow to your hand down the rein to the bit. If that line is continuous meaning dark coat, dark glove, dark leather rein. You see one dark line. But without the gloves, it's a dark line from elbow to wrist and the the light hands breaking up the line to the rein and instead drawing the eye to how you are holding your reins as if you are pushing a stroller instead of with you thumbs on top. And then the judge notices that your hand is actually in the wrong position.
You want to take away the obstacles and little things like gloves or braiding (When you get really good at braiding you can actually enhance the look of your horses neck and conformation, by the placement/thickness/turn of the braid. Especially important in pleasure classes.)
I think the absolute best tip I can give is to setup a video camera and record yourself in show turn out and ride a full class WTC both directions, and watch it, over and over again. Imagine it's not you, and actually see what the judge sees.
A trainer can tell you a thousand time to keep your heel down. But sometimes until you see yourself with your leg way behind the girth, and causing you to throw your weight and balence forward, it doesn't mentally snap in yer head.
Hope this helps!
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