n the thick of show season, it’s easy to get so caught up in the preparation and travel plans that we can forget to check in with our horses’ mental states. Though the majority of show horses are used to all the craziness - the rigorous schedule and the temporary stalls, plus the constant buzz of energy - it’s important to give them some time to take a breather.
You need that spa day (and maybe some wine) real bad. They probably do too.
Take Horses on a “Field Trip”
“I think you can always go trail riding,” says badass super-groom, and former member of the O’Connor Event Team for more than ten years, Max Corcoran. “Go out on a Monday or Tuesday when it’s quiet enough [and] they can just go out for a stroll and take a breath. Trail riding not an option? “Even things like letting them go for a wander during the times when it’s really quiet there [can make a difference],” Max says. What’s important is that your horse can stretch his legs without doing “work”.
Pay Attention to a Horse’s Cues
Showing for weeks on end can take its toll on even the sturdiest horse. “A lot of times, behavioral issues start coming up for horses that aren’t happy. They start getting nippy, they start getting sour, and something needs to change,” shares Max. If you notice a physical or mental shift in your horse, call your vet rather than trying to temporarily fix the issue. “People are so quick to throw a band-aid on what the symptom is and they don’t really find out what the cause is. I think that’s universal throughout all horses and all disciplines.”
Every Horse Needs Something Different
A seasoned 1.40m horse, for example, needs vastly different prep than a young import fresh off the boat. Creating an individual program to ensure that every horse stays happy and healthy on the road is essential. “Young horses want to play and they end up getting stuck on the lunge-line and going around in circles,” Max shares. “As they get older, their minds mature and everything matures, but it’s really difficult on a lot of horses to live that lifestyle for months on end.”Photos by Shannon Brinkman