It’s Showtime! How to Prepare a Champion.
According to Equestrian Australia, a show horse “must give the impression of covering the ground easily and fluently. The horse must be well balanced and work without any obvious effort by the rider or any untoward resistance from the horse.”
In order for your pony, galloway or hack to achieve the balance, elegance, lightness and correct rhythm for each gait, soundness is crucial. A sound horse will find it easier to maintain the correct outline and a steady contact with the bit. Contact issues, rhythm disturbances and poor behaviour can all be a sign of sub clinical lameness, especially in ridden classes.
Keeping your horse comfortable in their work, body and mind is a balancing act between training, behaviour management, gear selection, feeding, horse care and joint health.
To maintain your horse’s soundness, you ideally want to be asking your horse to perform the minimal amount of work necessary to achieve the skills required, and maintain good manners, body weight and show ring presence without increasing the risk of injury.
We know that lunging, especially on firm surfaces, can be quite demanding on your horse’s joints. However, it is obviously useful for helping horses to cope with the show environment. This is where EPIITALIS® FORTE can help your horse with the demands of the sport. For horses that require working down at a show, EPIITALIS® is an excellent way to help protect their joints from the repetitive strain of lunging and preserve their movement. Not only does it not swab, it is also safe for long term use in both ponies and horses and won’t cause them to lose their spark. With its protective and natural anti-inflammatory properties, it may be particularly beneficial in horses that have had a previous racing career.
Good conformation is critical for both show ring success and long-term soundness (if only more equestrian sports were judged with an eye on horse conformation!) Balanced year-round foot care will help protect confirmation and ensure joints, tendons and ligaments are not being subjected to abnormal forces. Icing joints after exercise, working your horse on a variety of surfaces, appropriate warm up and cool down and working with your vet to address any lameness problems in a timely fashion will all help to protect your horse’s joints and movement.
Ensure that all tack (saddle, bridle and bit/s) is well fitted and appropriately used. For ridden success, seek expert coaching of the rider to ensure appropriate balance and application of the aids and finally ensure that there is no mismatch between horse and rider fitness. Well-fitting tack and good riding will allow your horse to shine.
In the sound horse, training and expert handling probably have a greater influence on behaviour than just about everything else combined, but ensuing that calories are matched to requirement is a significant factor when it comes to behaviour management.
A balanced diet with respect to fibre, energy, protein, vitamin and minerals is crucial to achieving a glossy coat and optimum show condition. Speak to an equine nutritionist who will balance your horse’s diet and also ensure that the ration you are feeding is economical with regards to cost versus benefit of any additives that you are using. A balanced diet will also help your horse maintain their ideal body condition. Remember excess weight not only makes your horse prone to metabolic conditions and laminitis, it can also place additional strain on the joints and soft tissues of the limbs and lead to increased wear and tear.
Last but not least, a healthy horse is a happy horse, so routine healthcare with regards to dentistry, worming and vaccinations is essential.
Show ring success begins in the months leading up to the event where you must do everything to protect your horse’s joints, their movement and their show ring presence. Careful management of your Champion will allow you to present to the judge with confidence!