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A Horse of Course

A Horse, Of Course
by Don Blazer

New Year's resolutions are always made with good intentions.
I recall my mother told me the road to (you know where) was paved with good intentions.
The problem seems to be we are always making these resolutions to "improve ourselves." It's not a selfish thing; we generally want to improve ourselves in a way to benefit others. Our intentions are good, but they usually don't get much done.
Well, this year I'm recommending a "class action" set of New Year's resolutions not to improve ourselves, but to improve things for our horses. Maybe this way we can get something done.
Don't panic; it isn't going to be a lot of work. You aren't going to have to give up anything---well, maybe a little time, maybe a little effort. What I want our class action resolutions to do is change the way we think-just a little bit-about our horses.
For example, the first resolution is: "Know what it is you want your horse to do."
That seems simple enough. And it is unless you want your horse to do everything-well! (You can have anything you want, but you can't have everything.)
If you are just buying a horse, then knowing what you want him to do will help you select the horse with the perfect conformation for the job. If you already have a horse, then looking at his conformation will tell you what he can do-and more importantly, what he can't do-well.
Don't follow blindly the breed conformation standards. The standards are nice, but are related to efficiency of movement, rather than style of movement. The conformation you want in a gaited horse is much different than what you want in a reining prospect or a western pleasure horse. The conformation you want for driving or endurance trail riding is much different than that for a jumper.
Resolve to know what you want your horse to do, and then be sure he has the conformation to do it. If he doesn't have the conformation to easily do the job you want him to do, change your thinking, or change your horse.
How about this: resolve to understand why you are feeding your horse what you are feeding your horse, and when you are feeding your horse.
Feeding can be a little complicated, but simplifies itself when you start thinking about the horse rather than your convenience.
If you have successfully adopted the first resolution, then you know what you want your horse to do. Now all you have to do is figure out the best "fuels" to propel your gallant charger.
If you are running barrels on a young horse you certainly need to feed him differently than you feed an older western pleasure horse. The types and amounts of feed-roughage and concentrates-should be thoughtfully considered in relationship to the type and amount of work the horse will be doing. There are plenty of sources to help you decide on the amount of protein needed by your horse, taking into account his general health and age. There are plenty of sources to help you determine the amount of digestible energy your horse needs daily in order to do the work you will be asking him to do.
So with a little time spent on research to determine what to feed, you can now spend a little effort figuring a better way to feed your horse. By this I mean instead of two big meals a day, you'll find a way to get your horse three or four smaller meals. Horses have a very small stomach for their size, and their digestive system likes to work slowly and consistently. So two big meals are not nearly as good for a horse as four smaller meals.
I know, I know; you think it's impossible. It isn't impossible, it's just inconvenient with your present schedule.
Well, resolve to change the schedule, or the circumstances.
Resolve to think about your horse first.
If you don't like those resolutions, think about these-in training, am I acting to benefit my horse, or myself? Is the equipment I'm using the best I can get to benefit my horse, or is it just a bigger more forceful hammer to benefit me? When I'm with my horse, am I acting to benefit him as well as me, or is it all about my enjoyment?
My New Year's Resolution is to work hard to make you think more about how you can benefit your horse.
I'm making this resolution with good intentions.

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Don Blazer
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by Don Blazer



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