New Year's resolution for owners: look even a gift horse in the mouth

EQUESTRIAN

December 27, 1992|By MUPHEN WHITNEY

Maryland horsemen have a lot to be proud of as they look back on 1992. There were a lot of trophies and ribbons won at many shows and competitions.

As successful a year as 1992 was, however, everyone is looking forward to 1993. Most horsemen have a chance during the winter months to assess their previous year's performances and to make plans and resolutions for the coming year.

Whether you are a first-time horse owner and pleasure rider, or a seasoned A-level competitor, here are some resolutions to consider for you and your horse as you get ready to ride into 1993:

Resolve to . . .

* Take time to really think about your horse and your relationship with it.

Review your horse's health routine with your veterinarian. Make sure your horse is on a definite schedule for routine health checks. Wormings, inoculations, and Coggins tests should be taken care of regularly in accordance with the vet's suggested schedule.

* Rethink your horse's diet. Tailor feed and feeding routines to the work it does. Periodically review feeding routines when there is a change in his activities.

* Have your horse's teeth checked once a year by the vet or an equine dentist. Learn what a healthy mouth, teeth and gums should look like and learn to check your horse's mouth. (Even if he was a gift horse this Christmas!)

* 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 and try to keep your horse's feet up to this standard.

* Have your horse ready and waiting for vet or farrier appointments. Have a list ready of everything that needs to be done.

* Work on your horse's manners. He should stand and lead quietly. It should be cooperative when being handled.

* Think seriously about how you use your horse. Set definite goals for this year based on your horse's age, experience, training, physical condition and temperament.

* Make sure you realize the level of fitness your horse must achieve to do the work that you expect. Learn how to assess your horse's fitness and then set up a program to ensure that it is -- and stays -- as fit as it needs to be.

* Try to give your horse as much turn-out as possible. Inspect his pasture from time to time and make sure there is nothing in it that can harm him. Make sure that he is clipped and/or blanketed as his work and turn-out schedules dictate.

* Allow time for your horse to be a horse. Make sure that his showing/breeding/hunting/trail riding, schedule, etc., allows sufficient time for him to have some time off.

* Improve your riding. Even if you have been riding all your life resolve to seek the help of a competent ground-person to check your position, use of the aids and your horse's way of going. Do this periodically so that you do not fall into bad habits that will have an adverse effect on your horse. If you are a beginner, resolve to work with a competent professional so that you and your horse can work better together.

* Pay strict attention to all aspects of safety. NEVER, EVER ride without protective headgear. Wear safe footwear each time you ride or work around your horse. Never leave your horse tied or unattended in an unsafe manner. 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 on a regular basis. After every ride thoroughly clean the bit and girth strap and wipe the sweat and grime from everything else.

* Have a good attitude toward competition and be a good sport. Realize that you can't win everything every time out. Do the best job that you can and be happy if you and your horse work well together. Don't seek excuses or begrudge others their successes. Always be polite to judges, show organizers and other competitors. Competition should be a learning experience for you and your horse.

* Open up your mind to the world of horses. Try not to have prejudices about breeds or activities. Learn as much as you can about other areas of the horse world.

* Teach and train at home and at schooling shows if you are a trainer. Never, ever humiliate your students in public -- or in private, for that matter. Don't seek the quick fix and don't encourage that attitude in your students.

* Never live your unfulfilled dreams through your child if you are a parent. Realize that your support is necessary and desirable, but your interference is not. If you want to be a rider, then buy a horse of your own -- it's never too late!

* See your horse as a valuable partner in your activities. Respect both his talents and his limitations. Never over-face him and never use him as a tool for your ego.

Calendar

Now through New Year's Day -- Carriage rides in Frederick. Sundance and Victorian Carriage companies, (410) 489-7863 or (301) 694-7433.

Today -- Schooling Show, St. Michaels, (410) 745-3160.

Tuesday -- Carroll County Hay and Straw Auction, Westminster Livestock Auction Facility, noon, (410) 374-4067.

Thursday through Jan. 3 -- Junior and Young Rider Clinic, Hilltop Farm, Colora, (410) 658-9898.

Thursday -- Frederick Hay and Straw Auction, noon, (301) 473-8100.

Jan. 4 -- Maryland Horse Council annual meeting and election, 7:30 p.m., Goucher College, Baltimore.

Jan. 5 -- Carroll County Equestrian Council general meeting, 7:30 p.m., East Middle School, Longwell Avenue, Westminster, (410) 833-4593.

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