The COVID-19 crisis and resulting state and local mandates have forced many barns to close their doors to riders in attempts to social distance and flatten the curve. As a result, some horses are having a bit more downtime then they would normally see in the middle of the spring season. When the time comes when barns can open their doors once more and horses and riders can return to full work in anticipation of the restart of the competition season, what kinds of precautions should they take to make sure their horses come back to full fitness happy and healthy?
International eventer Buck Davidson Jr. is a firm believer in the importance of downtime for horses. “Just like an athlete, you can’t be “peak” all the time,” he said. “On a horse, you have to have fat so you have something to build into muscle. You have to let their bodies detox and let their feet go back to the way nature intended – then you can see where the horse is when he’s in nature and that usually gives you a pretty good idea of where they should go. It’s for their minds too. You can’t just keep shoving information at them because it would be information overload and they might go kind of nuts. Just like a kid on summer break, they have time to absorb everything they’ve learned and they usually come back smarter and stronger.”
“I would treat this the way you treat the beginning of the year,” Davidson said. “Normally after the fall season, the horse gets a little bit of a break and then you bring them back up over a couple of months. If they’ve had the break they would normally have in the fall, then you do it in the same way. If they’ve done more than their normal break you act accordingly. Every situation is different – every horse is different, every rider is different, and every break is different. Do what’s right for you and your horse.”
The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is pleased to announce the addition of the Modified Rider division beginning at the 2023 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC), presented by Nutrena Feeds. The USEA AEC will move back to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky August 29–September 3, 2023.
Are you interested in competing in the sport of eventing but aren’t quite sure how to get started? Do you have a horse that is looking for a new career? Consider participating in a USEA New Event Horse (NEH) competition in 2023! The USEA NEH Program was created to be an introduction to the sport of eventing for both horse and rider, and the 2023 NEH Calendar is now available here.
Will Coleman had a huge 2022 with his string of horses, including a team silver medal at the FEI World Eventing Championship in Italy on Off The Record and top four-star placings with Chin Tonic HS, but it was Dondante whose consistency paid off to earn the Standlee Premium Western Forage USEA Horse of the Year title.
Julie Murray has loved horses since she could breathe, so when her daughters showed an interest in Pony Club and then eventing, she was thrilled to go along for the ride.
Murray started volunteering at the Fallbrook Pony Club near her home in Fallbrook, California, serving as an intermediate district commissioner.