It’s Event Season! Be Sure Your Equines are Ready for Their Outings

After two years of COVID, and a winter that felt like it was two years long, I’m itching to get out to some shows, trail rides, or clinics. Though I’ve been to horse shows wearing my judge’s hat and I regularly teach clinics, it’s been quite a while since I’ve competed with a horse of my own.

The last year I showed was 2019 and I promised my little Quarter horse, Gunner, who’s 20 this year, that he never had to go to a horse show again. He seemed too stressed by the whole experience, so I decided it’s time to let him stay home and maybe just do some one-day trail rides. Gunner becomes anxious when spending time locked in a stall away from his buddies, something he never has to do at home. Let’s face it—if your horse isn’t happy, showing isn’t fun. Gunner spent most of his life chasing barrels and doing fairs with his owners before me. I think he deserves to stay home in his senior years.

My young horse, Gus, is coming 5. I’d hoped he’d be ready to start his show career this year, but he injured himself playing in the field when he was 3, which delayed his start until this past winter. I prefer not to start a horse this late, but that’s the way it goes with horses. His progress is slow and steady, but I don’t foresee him being ready to make any competition outings this year.

As disappointing as it can be, it’s important to always keep our horses’ welfare the top priority in this journey. Showing horses, attending clinics, or taking a pack trip into the back country isn’t fun if our horses are falling apart emotionally or physically. Taking a horse on an outing before he or she is completely prepared could easily derail their trust in us and put the training back years. Once a horse has become conditioned to being tense and unhappy at a show it takes much more time, energy, and patience to get them to a place where they can go out to an event and remain happy and relaxed.

I hope everyone has a safe and fun summer learning, competing, and adventuring with your horses.

 

See this article in the May/June 2022 online edition:

May/June 2022

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