We had a brutal winter that has carried over into a chill spring. It won’t last. As much as we all said we would never complain about it being hot again, I bet we do. Because in Texas, it will be bake-oven hot by July, if not before. Trainers start getting up at 3 a.m. to get horses worked. That 15 or 20-degree difference means maybe five more quality minutes in a work. Which, by the way, is how the great trainers beat you – quality, not quantity.
Jumping off topic, here are a few summer customer and trainer tips. Customers, ask your trainer when they are stepping on the first horse of a day and adjust your timing to them. Be reasonable, do it their way. Quit bringing the dang donuts, start bringing cold fruit. There is no need to mention the heat. Everyone is aware, I promise you.
Check with your vet for tips, but make sure you understand the effects of heat on horses. Learn the proper ways to cool one out that not only does not shock them, but aids in recovery from the work. You are still dealing with an elite athlete and the beating muscles and tendons are taking. Check for dehydration often – grab a pinch of neck skin, pull it up and release. If it stays up, it is critical you get that horse watered and hold off doing anything else until that is done. A lot of people like buckets instead of automatic waterers because you can monitor how much a horse is drinking. But, you have to fill the buckets…duh.
Some feed is “hotter” than others. Some feed needs more water for digestion. For colic-prone horses, move them to make it easier to check stalls or traps. Never neglect to check on them a couple hours after feeding, or even a few minutes after feeding, to make sure they are eating. A six- or eight-hour-old colic has a very poor prognosis. It is a pretty sick feeling to look at your vet and say, “I don’t know.” They do. Give them something to work with. Do you know how to give an injection if your vet prescribes it? If not, schedule a lesson. Do you have the medications? Syringes? Needles? Stethoscope? If not, you are ill-prepared and subject to a preventable, heartbreaking event. There is no excuse.
Okay, back to what I was going to say. June, July and August are weekend horse show season. School is on parole. Plenty of affiliates have circuits of several shows strung together, especially in the north and northwest and mountain states. Absolutely check the Canadian affiliates. “Friend” Rob Kuiper and other Canucks on Facebook. Get a passport. They have 60 degree mornings and gorgeous days with good cattle. There are great associations run and populated by great people who will make you feel welcome. There are golden lifelong friendships to be made, renewed or built upon.
Weekend shows are the heart of the cutting community at its finest. You miss so much of the cutting life when you do not take advantage of these opportunities. It’s great if your trainer wants to do this, but often he can’t; there are 2- and 3-year-olds that must be ridden every day. One of the greatest ways to improve your cutting is to show some by yourself.
However, you should be at a certain skill level. You must go with your trainer’s blessing. Your horse needs to be solid enough. You need to be knowledgeable and skilled enough to tune him before showing, just enough to keep him correct. You aren’t to try and retrain or “fix” them, just refresh what they know. Stop the show cheating they love to do, particularly those hard-knocking, older geldings. Do not even begin to consider yourself a horse trainer. This is doom. You are a non-pro, which is a tremendous accomplishment anyway. Overconfidence has ruined many a good horse.
Consult with your trainer about the trainers in the area or other trainers going and make a plan for a substitute trainer at the show. If your horse needs a real work, get a quality one by a qualified trainer. You want to be comfortable and feeling prepared.
Trip check your rig. Make a plan. Take the ingredients for your best potluck dish. You will never regret this experience. This is real cutting.
Cornbread Thinks: This is life, don’t not do what you can.