Sunday, January 31, 2010

101 Things: Number 98 stablework

A few years ago, I took up full charge of my horses after years of full care.

It wasn't because I was being cheap. It was because I felt that I could do a better job than the management in my employ.

A number of years later, my ponies are glowing and I feel that my involvement on that level has only made my ponies and myself that much better.

They say success starts at home, and with horses the cliche never rings truer.

That beautiful horse coming down centerline that gleams in the sun and moves like a song isn't an overnight result, it's a product of long-term, consistent, detail-oriented correct management and training.

To produce that kind of result begins on the ground at the barn.

Understandably, most horse owners cannot do the day-in-day-out chores. The lifestyle that they lead suggests they hire someone to do it for them.

But what they can do to understand (and appreciate) is know what is involved in bringing the horse to it's peak potential.

At the very least, owners should know and do the following:

  • Know, and log how frequently you work your horse. What you worked on and where. It doesn't need to be a fancy journal, it can be a calendar, your day planner, or your Blackberry or I Phone. Review periodically.
  • Know what your horse is fed. The brands, the supplements, how much, how frequently. Ask about the feed shipments, why did they choose those brands. If your horse isn't doing so hot on that brand, call the company and ask to speak to a nutritionist. 
  • On the same vein, know how much he drinks as well. 
  • Know how to muck and properly bed a stall. Nothing is worse going to a show and seeing an under-bedded horse that hasn't slept and is expected to perform. Observe your horse's habits. Does he go in one corner? Or does he grind his manure? Does he walk his stall? Where does he lay down? How?
  • Know and keep a schedule of worming, vaccines, massage/chiro work and farrier visits. Make a point to be there, and ask questions of what's going on and how you can improve. 
  • Keep track of your tack, and keep it in good working order. Know what is working and what isn't.
  • Learn how to manage time! The hallmark of a stable is how smoothly and efficiently it runs.

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