Last year may not have been the best for the horse industry, but it was a banner year for Carroll horse enthusiasts.
Some countians had fun with their horses on pleasure rides exploring the county's trail system. Others competed in a variety of events in the county, stateand around the country.
From local 4-H shows to the American Quarter Horse World Show, countians earned awards from hunter shows, jumper competitions, Westernshows, combined training events, steeplechases and flat races, trailevents, dressage shows and other competitions.
As successful as 1991 was, many are looking forward to 1992. Most horsemen have a chance during the winter months to assess their previous year's performances and to make resolutions for 1992.
Whether you are a first-time horse owner, pleasure rider, or a seasoned A-level competitor, you should resolve to:
* Take the time to really think about your horse and your relationship with him.
* Review your horse's health with the veterinarian and make sure he is on a schedule for wormings, inoculations and Coggins tests.
* Re-think your horse's diet, tailoring it his work. Review his feeding routine when there is a change in his activities.
* Have your horse's teeth checked once a year by a vet or equine dentist. Learn what a healthy mouth, teeth and gums should look like and how to check your horse's mouth (even if he was a gift horse).
* Inspect your horse's feet before and after every ride. Set up a regular schedule with the farrier. Learn what a healthy, well-trimmed foot looks like.
* Have your horse ready for appointments with the vet or farrier and have a list of everything that must be done.
* Work on your horse's manners. He should stand and lead quietly and be cooperative when handled.
* Think about how you useyour horse. Set goals based on your horse's age, experience, training, physical condition and temperament.
* Make sure you realize thelevel of fitness your horse must achieve to do what you expect. Learn how to assess your horse's fitness and set up a program to ensure that he stays fit.
* Try to give your horse as much turn-out as possible. Inspect his pasture for hazards and make sure he is clipped and/or blanketed as needed.
* Allow time for your horse to be a horse. Make sure his schedule allows time off.
* Improve your riding. Even if you have been riding all your life, get help to check your position, use of aids and your horse's way of going to avoid bad habitsthat could harm your horse. If you are a beginner or novice rider, work with a professional so you and your horse work better together.
* Pay strict attention to all aspects of safety. Never ride withoutprotective headgear and wear safe footwear whenever you ride or workaround your horse. Never leave your horse tied or unattended in an unsafe manner and never turn your horse out or leave him in his stall in a halter.
* Have your tack inspected once a year by a professional, and have the fit of your saddle checked once a year. Before and after each ride inspect your tack, especially the reins, girth, stirrup leathers, billet straps and bridle fittings. Have worn tack replaced or repaired at once.
* Clean your tack regularly. Clean the bitand girth strap and wipe the sweat and grime from other equipment after each ride.
* Have a good attitude toward competition and be a good sport. Realize that you can't win every time out. Do the best you can
and be happy if you and your horse work well together. Don'tseek excuses or begrudge others their successes.
* Be polite to judges, show organizers and other competitors. Competition should be alearning experience for you and your horse.
* Open your mind to the world of horses and learn all you can about it. Try not to have prejudices about breeds or activities.
* Teach at home and schoolingshows if you are a trainer. Never humiliate your students and don't seek the quick-fix or encourage that attitude in your students.
* Never live your unfulfilled dreams through your child. Realize that your support is necessary and desirable, but your interference is not.If you want to ride, buy your own horse -- it's never too late!
*See your horse as a valuable partner in your activities. Respect histalents and limitations. Never over-face him and never use him as a tool for your ego.
Have a happy, horsy 1992!