Are We Over-Competing Our Horses? With Max Corcoran

Are We Over-Competing Our Horses? With Max Corcoran

There are more opportunities to show and compete than ever before. If you wanted to, you could theoretically spend nearly 52 weeks of the year in the show ring, chasing qualifications and year-end awards and prize money. On top of that, we have more cutting edge veterinary knowledge and technology than we’ve ever had available to us, and much of it is geared towards performance horse soundness. 

Both of these things are great! We have to gut-check ourselves: Are our horses paying the price for our drive to compete? Is the idea of giving our horses a real break from work becoming ancient history? What’s causing this shift, and how do we get ourselves back to a time where horses, like pro human athletes, have an on- and off-season?

Equestrian Masterclass instructor and President of the United States Eventing Association (USEA), Max Corcoran, joins host Caroline Culbertson to discuss: 

  • What has contributed to the rise of competing too much, too hard, too often (finances, geography, pressure and more)
  • How burnout shows up in the horses mentally and emotionally
  • Common overuse injuries
  • What we can learn from human athlete performance and what it has to do with horses
  • Why we do need to “reinvent the wheel”
  • Grooms’ roles in identifying an overworked horse
  • Max’s rule of thumb for giving our horses time off

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Below is an estimate based on the number of classes each horse ridden by riders in the top 100 in the world (FEI rankings) jumped in one year, the average number jumps in each type of competition, average number of warm-up jumps, etc.  Via Tim Worden, PhD and The Sport Horse Research Foundation.