The Futurity season is my favorite time of year — we get to see a new group of future show horses and watch them for the first time. My philosophy for showing my Futurity horses for the first time is equivalent to taking my kids to school in first grade — I expect them to behave and perform their maneuvers the same as they do at home.
So many times I see trainers and non-pros asking more from their horses at the show than they do at home. This causes a lot of anxiety in young horses and can be a long-lasting memory for a reining horse. You cannot expect a young horse to run faster, turn harder or stop farther at a show than they do at home anymore than you can expect your kids to go to first grade and do multiplication! Building a long-lasting reining horse takes time and patience.
Every now and again, you will have a gifted individual that is capable, but more times than not, I see more reining horses damaged as Futurity horses because the riders are expecting too much at a show. You can see them watching the competition and then taking their horse and running it that much faster, thinking that’s what they need to be competitive. I watch and I understand the desire to win, but I have to remind myself to be patient and keep my eye on the end result, which for me is a happy and sound horse, both mentally and physically. Generally, those horses will go on to win money time and time again.
A saying I have used over the years to my assistants and non-pros is: “Show the horse that is under you, not the one you are watching that you wish you had.” Good luck this fall!
Reining horse professional Craig Schmersal is the 4th all-time leading rider, with earnings of more than 3 million dollars!. Over the last decade, Craig has won almost all of the major reining events, often taking all three of his entries into the finals.