A horse is a massive animal who, as we all know by now, is also incredibly fragile for their size. This can add an immense amount of stress gearing up to show season not only for your horse but for you as well! I don’t know about you, but my horses are like my children, and when they’re hurt, I’m hurting right along with them. This can be a cause of stress for many people as they are not sure if they should or should not be showing. This is where knowing your horse and yourself is hugely important! While in the ring you should be confident in the fitness level of the horse you are riding and the fitness of your mind to cope with the mental fatigue that comes with all forms of competition, no matter what discipline you are in. If you are prepared and know the horse that you are on, you can face any obstacles that come your way while you are out dominating your dreams!
“I don’t know about you, but my horses are like my children, and when they’re hurt, I’m hurting right along with them.”
While preparing for competition, your three best friends should be your veterinarian, farrier and coach. You should feel absolutely comfortable to ask them any questions that may arise no matter how tough or ‘silly’ they may seem. As much as we may hate to admit it, there will come a day that is harder than others, and you and your horse may need to face questions such as “is this an injury that we can rehab and get back to where we were?” or “are we fit and able to continue at this level?” and “at what point are his/her feet going call it quits?”. Finding a vet that you feel comfortable trusting your horse with is equally important as finding a farrier along with a trainer/coach that you trust to not put you or your horse into an impossible position.
No matter the level you are at, finding a coach that you can have frank conversations with when needed is, in my opinion, the only way to go. Yes, a compliment can go a great length, but also being able to take constructive criticism and strive for bettering yourself and your horse is the best way to improve your riding and the relationship you have with your horse. Behind the success is many constructive failures and finding a coach who not only drives you to push forward past your mistakes but also one you can trust in keeping you and your horse safe while doing so is what everyone should strive to find.
When finding veterinarians, along with farriers, for your equine partner, you may feel a large amount of weight on your shoulders. While this is maybe because you have been without a veterinarian for a while and are in desperate need or if you are needing some routine work and their feet done and are out of reach of many. This is still a decision that should not be made lightly, and you should find a vet/farrier that you can trust with the precious life of your horse. There are many different thoughts on how often a veterinarian should be used when it comes to a competition horse. Many people prefer to have a full check-up if one lame step is taken, and others feel time off first on stall rest is better spent. Of course, this always depends on the severity, but if the health of the horse permitting, everyone has a valid opinion on their show horse.
The key thing here is to know when to let go of the opinions you may hold and leave it to the immense knowledge of your veterinarian, farrier, and coach. Remember you chose them for a reason, and they will always only have you and your horses’ best interest at heart. They will be there for all of the easy abscesses to the difficult torn ligaments and unfortunate colics. You would trust your pediatrician with your children, so trust your veterinarian, farrier, and coach with your horse’s health when you cannot, as your success is their success.