I know what you're thinking.
Beaches, skiis or other vacationing destinations in winter. But I'm not talking human vacations. Vacations of the equine variety.
|Horses be like|
If you don't feel like or can't for some reason or another (mobile app is weird sometimes) I shall sum it up for you...
Written by the all knowing and godlike, Denny Emerson, this article touches on his life in the earlier years and how its drastically changed for the worse (surprise surprise). Post WWII, apparently EVERYONE gave their horses the winter off because no one could afford to build indoors or travel south. In general, horses got about 2 months off, completely, a year. Northern riders gave their horses the worst parts of winter off. The Southerners would give their horses the worst part of summer off. Denny remarks on how nowadays, it seems most (especially top level horses) are shown 12 months a year, with no real big breaks, with southern migrations being a prominent factor. Obviously not the best thing for horses. He then highlights & generalizes 3 different types of riders and what they have to offer "vacation" wise for their horses and it brings up great points.
-->"There are enormous difference of opinion about what kinds of time off are most beneficial to equine athletes Some advocate the old fashioned idea of "let him be a real horse..get muddy and dirty...pull his shoes and chuck him in a field for 2 months"
-->"Others advocate keeping horses in some form of constant work 12 months a year...if you were a human athlete in good shape would you go sit in a chair for months?"
--> There are other riders ..who advocate several mini-vacations a year. If a horse has been built up to a peak of fitness...the week following a race or show should be limited work to let the horse recover both physically and mentally, as a way of "recharging the batteries"
I couldn't really tell if he was more for "mini" vacationing or larger breaks, but I know I formed an opinion based off my opinion and experiences in the sport.
As always, before I officially ask, I have to share my side of WDW.
I go with Option 3.
I've never competed at the peak level of any sport, so I have no real pull in any direction when it comes to a certain level of fitness and performance.
That being said, if I were at the top, I would still have the same opinion.
Even at the lower levels, horses/ riders are learning, schooling and drilling and at some point they need a rest. I know with OTTBs especially, their little brains can explode easily and little bits of downtime can be extremely beneficial in mitigating serious meltdowns. In addition, joint & muscle health is serious concern at any level!
Even when I was showing pretty regularly (1-2 events a month and schooling shows every weekend) I would ALWAYS give my horse 2 FULL days off after a show, 1 easy day back and then school hard for 2.
I will say though I am NOT a fan of throwing horses out into a field to "just be a horse". I try my damndest in winter to continue some sort of "let down" work going (hacks, long and low flat sessions, trails) and same in winter when the temps soar. Like Denny's article said, you wouldn't take a human athlete and sit them down in a chair for 3 months and then bring them back. The yo-yo-ing of getting in peak form, letting down and coming back., I think is WORSE than staying in relatively good condition all year with "mini" breaks ( in the form of a few days off a week, or a week here and there off). Coming from someone who yo-yo's herself, I can tell you its not the greatest. I am either a fat turd or ripped.
While I wish and dream of GA or FL winters, I know its saving me oodles of cash in travel expenses and boarding costs. I could go on about this topic nd the direction that the sport of eventing is heading, but ya'll would get bored with all the words.
So dear readers, What Do? Specifically, you and your horses, or your general opinions on the 3 different general situations. Do you throw them in a field to chill? Do you try your best to battle mother nature and get some work done? Do you migrate?
Tell me your secrets!