Way back in early 2006 I was at a clinic with Ken Faulkner. Ken Faulkner - Australian Horsemanship It was the first session of the day and a student walked in (or at least tried to) leading a stunning black mare, she was about 4 or 5, and she strutted into that arena with almost flames coming out of her nostrils! The owner was struggling to keep her in control, and so the Ken asked if she would like him to work with her.
He proceeded to work with the mare to help her become more focused on him, instead of everything else around, and she began to settle and calm down. When he returned to the group the owner said to him “she can be really naughty” and he said “no, she just has her party clothes on, and she’s not ready to go to a party”.
He went on to explain that the mare was in peak physical condition, shiny, well muscled - ready to enter a royal show, but she had not yet received the education she needed to be able to ‘handle’ her party clothes.
Over the years I must have heard Ken use the term “party clothes” a thousand times. And it’s true - there are many ways to say it;
Too much feed, not enough work.
Over fed and underworked,
I get it, we all love a good looking horse, myself included, but if we are going to feed them, rug them, stable them, or any combination of the 3, we must understand that this is fuel - fuel for a body and a mind that might not yet be ready for it.
And fuel that the rider may not have the skills to ride.
Horses are made to eat grass, walk long distances to find it, and that’s about it.
Through domestication our horses travel less distance, have high nutritional food available year round, have it delivered to them. This lack of stimulus surrounding forage, coupled with energy that has no way of being burned off, can often lead to;
Stereotypical behaviors such as;
‘Bad’ paddock behaviors such as;
Poor behavior in handling and riding such as;
Short attention span
Not wanting to walk
A few ways we can avoid this issue:
Have a diet custom made for your horse - his workload, his access to forage etc. we use and recommended CEN Horse Nutrition - use tkh5 at the checkout for discount
Adjust feed to workload (for a lot of people this means to reduce feed during the week when feed is minimal
Put the work into your horse before you put his party clothes on!
Understand it is ok (and actually normal) for your horse to drop condition in winter.
Remember we aren’t suggesting you have horses in poor condition, we are suggesting that you have your horse in a condition that is relative to his workload.
Enjoy the ride!
July 30 & 31 - Liberty clinic, Port Macquarie NSW
August 7 - One Day. Laterals to connection and collection. Maclean Nsw
August 13 Cowboy Dressage Gathering Glenreagh NSW
August 18 - 27 Cadillac horse course 10 days, Glenreagh NSW
September 3 & 4 - Connection & Self Carriage - Gold Coast hinterland QLD
September 3 & 4 - Cowboy Dressage clinic Wauchope NSW