Maintaining Your Halter Horse’s Peak, Part 2
In Part 1 of this horse-showing series, you learned about bringing your horse to his peak; now let’s talk about the importance of giving him time to be a horse.
AQHA Professional Horseman Luke Castle of Wayne, Oklahoma, says a horse cannot be expected to always be at his peak. Eventually, the horse has to be given a break or the horse will take one himself, so you have to know when to “back off.” We continue this series by asking Luke:
When you say back off, what does that look like?
There are two different ways that we do it:
One way is if you have a long period between shows. I had one horse last year that we got qualified for the Lucas Oil AQHA World Championship Show in the spring – he was done, and the owners weren’t going to show him until the big shows later in the year.
We put him on a very limited diet – grass hay, a half scoop of oats – to reduce his weight. We took his shoes off and put him in the mare motel. We turned him out in the arena and just let him be a horse; we didn’t work or sweat him, and didn’t set him up. We didn’t brush him, but we gave him a bath once a week.
Seven weeks before Congress, we brought him back to the show barn to start back on him. When you put that horse back in a program after backing off like that, he will come around faster. When you start pushing him, he’ll come back stronger.
The other way we do it is if you have a shorter period between shows, say, that five-week window between the Adequan Select World Championship Show and the All American Quarter Horse Congress. In that case, we’d back his feed off somewhat and his brushing for two weeks, maybe turn the horse out a few days just to give him a break. Then three weeks before the show, we start pushing him again.
CLICK HERE to read the rest of the article from The American Quarter Horse Journal