Monday, July 09, 2012
Horses always come first
Last weekend we were lucky enough to compete at a facility that adheres to my theory of horses come first (and riders a close second!). Loch Moy at MD made every attempt to help us endure the extreme heat index that the weekend provided. Tents, fans and water tubs were available at all riding locations--- this was a huge help, the only way to survive was to drench and squeegy at every opportunity. I've never had horses drag me to water buckets, perhaps that was the power of the electrolyte paste they received in the morning thanks to my super smart vet! Dr. Kathy rules. Luckily our good friend Rusty dug into his friends of friends stuff and found us a super duty generator--- this supplied us with completely life saving essential fans at our base station- of which was in the only shady spot in all of Loch Moy.
Besides the water soaking, electrolyte pre-gaming, fan in the shade invigorating it was necessary to RIDE SMART. Once again, the horse comes first. This wasn't the normal competition, my warm-up's were as absolutely as short as possible, and my rides were more conservative than they would have been that weekend without the heat. It wasn't about winning, it was about my horses getting a solid experience and keeping them healthy for next time. It's easy for me to say that as I've competed for many many years at this point and I know that it isn't about today, its about the future. For most junior riders and even some adult amateurs all they see is that score board, points and the cool prize they see is getting handed out to first place.
Since us professionals shape the way juniors and adult amateurs ride, compete and care for their horses I fully believe that we need to be responsible for educating them. It's hard to not be proud and supportive of a go-getter, a real competitor, an excited rider. I never ever would want to lessen anyone's love and thrive for the sport- BUT - I always want to keep the horse and rider as healthy and happy as I can. Things happen. Life happens. If I can prevent one horse from passing out, or one horse from getting a tendon from being ridden too fast on too hard of ground... then I'll consider this a useful post. The best piece of advice I can give and hopefully utilize myself for many years to come- LISTEN TO YOUR HORSE. If you are out on course and your horse feels tired, not quite himself.... ride accordingly. Don't ask for big long spots, don't try to sprint to the last jump to save time, DO what needs to be done. This could be slowing down or just being more supportive in your riding OR if it's really not your horse and you're worried it could mean pulling up and realizing there will be another day.
I love my horses and I love my riders and my TEAM. I stress the last part because without a good team; trainer, rider, HORSE, owners, parents, significant others, friends, vets, farriers and colleagues we couldn't get through this sport. Riders can be easily persuaded by all parts of the team- I try to surround myself with up-beat positive team members that all have the same common goal as myself- making the most out of these special horses. Right now I'd like to thank the TEAM for helping the Havarah horses and riders safely, successfully and positively make it through Loch Moy I. Onwards and upwards hopefully with rain and cooler temperatures!!!