I can see you now, the horse crazed individual preparing for one of the most important events of the season. You have an awesome horse. You have spent countless hours in the saddle, sometimes without stirrups. Your trainer’s words haunt your dreams. Your tack has been cleaned and your horse is sporting a new set of shoes. You even spent a little extra on a new show shirt this go round. The trailer is hooked up and ready to go. You are ready. Or are you?
No doubt, attending an important horse event brings out the OCD in all of us equine competitors. Our new year’s resolution typically starts with planning our entire horse show season, strategizing around work schedules and family obligations. Our ever expanding “to do” list has been carefully devised and each task executed and boldly checked off.
We, the most relentless of competitors, have read countless articles on grooming techniques, trends in fashion, even sport psychology. Anything and everything related to horse showing we have queried on Google and Pinterest.
We have planned, prepared, and performed in the show ring… but what went wrong? The show just didn’t turn out how we envisioned. After all this preparation, our beloved horse doesn’t feel right.
Nobody plans on having a sore horse at the show.
As an equine veterinarian that focuses on the performance horse and avid competitor myself, it is my impression that one of the most overlooked aspects of equine competition is prevention. Why do we not treat our equine athletes like some of our football players, gymnasts, or marathon runners? Training and grooming only gets us half way there.
I urge you to expand your resources beyond your trainer and farrier. Utilize your veterinarians more. It is their drive and dedication to provide you with the most innovative, state-of-the art, and progressive diagnostics/treatments available.
Consult with your veterinarian regularly regarding a developing fitness program, intermittent form and function assessments, so that you may recognize and prevent injuries in your horse before they happen.
Research equine sport horse practices available at equine events you attend. There are countless non-invasive therapies available at the shows to enhance your horse’s performance without the use of medication.
Progress your program to ensure your horse feels its best while performing. Focus on creating a sustainable athlete. Add it to your list. A happy, healthy, and sound horse may win you some more ribbons next time.