Caring for our Invaluable Companions
Common Mistakes and our Invaluable Companions A Gentle Reminder on your Invaluable Companion Our Duty – The Obligation of Horse Ownership
For many of us, our horse lives are our hobby life. In the saddle, we take a deep breath and let go of the complications associated with our daily existence. Or maybe horses are your full time, dream job! Whatever category you align yourself with, I’m sure there have been moments when convenience or haste have outweighed caution.
What I’m trying to say is, there’s no room to cut corners. Sometimes we can lose sight of this fact, but these animals rely on us to protect them. I’ve been traveling a lot the past few weeks, competing in shows from one end of the country to the other. I’ve seen a lot of people risking their own safety as well as the health of their ho
rses. It doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves of a few simple facts… or maybe even instruct the young riders or new competitors in your life on the finer points of caution. I promise you won’t regret it.
Tie your horse in a safe place
Keep them out of high traffic zones, even when it’s not convenient for you. When you get them settled in a quiet spot, use the difficult knot they can’t untie and only leave them two feet of slack on their lead. Anything else is asking for trouble. Finally, if the signs says you shouldn’t tie your horse there, don’t do it! You better believe that signs’ there for a reason!
Tried and True Tack
You found yourself a flashy new pad, but don’t use it for the first time in the show arena!The same goes for a new cinch, reins or any equipment. Not only should these products be tested at home for correct performance and durability, they need to be examined for comfort and safety. New leather often requires months of handling to ensure supple movement. Watch your horse for signs or tenderness after trying new products. If they’re twitching or moving away from you when they normally enjoy your attention, it could be a sign your new equipment isn’t working correctly.
The time before your number is called isn’t meant to be used as a social hour. You and your horse need to move, warm up and burn through excess nerves. If you’ve spent a lot of time driving to a show, then you and your horse definitelyneed extra time to stretch! To achieve a high level of performance you both need to focus on the task at hand. This process starts in the warm-up pen.
Don’t ask your horse to do anything they don’t do at home. Since you’ll most likely be in an unfamiliar setting, use protective boots for their legs and check the stall you’ve been assigned for hazards. Keep an eye on food and water consumption and monitor their normal behaviors for signs of stress. You might need to clean stalls a little more than usual, but your horse is spending more time inside than what they’re used to.
Check your horse for soreness before and after warm ups. This is something you should be doing at home as well, but in a new environment there’s nothing wrong with being extra observant. Watch their feet when standing at rest. Are they close together, farther apart? You might need to have the farrier look at their shoes. Is their back tender or their muscles moving when you brush them? They may be experiencing some soreness and need a visit with the vet.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a weekend competitor or a daily professional. The next time those soft, brown equine eyes stare into your own, know that animal trusts you to take care of them. It’s your responsibility to not let them down.