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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

June 4, 2014

Competitiveness and Welfare of the Horse

When it comes to horses the human urge called competitiveness is where we really lose the quality called horsemanship, put our horse's best interests behind placement or winning.  It happens in all of the horse sports, and endurance is one of them.

When should the win take precedence over the horse?  I say NEVER.   Of course I struggle with asking my horse to complete as what we do is not natural to the horse in any way.  But if you look at the foundations of endurance riding you will see that the sport was built on the concept that To Finish Is To Win.  Not to place is to win, not to win is to win, but to finish.  It has been said that I am against those who race.  There is only a partial truth in that.  What I am against is those who put placement above their horse's welfare.   I have seen top ten finishing horses that look phenomenal, that in fact look better than my been out there nine hours horse.  The opposite has also been true.  I've seen horses coming in on their final loop with that eye that says I'm tired, I'm miserable, I'm exhausted. So then, the sport comes down to horsemanship.   Are you skilled enough to ask your horse to complete the 50 mile or 100 mile journey?  That skill set evident at the end of a race begins weeks and months ahead of the actual ride.  It also requires that one know the horse they are riding and know it well.   At the end of the day the horse's welfare should always be put first above winning, above placement, and above completion.  There are those at the front of the pack that do this quite well, and then---there are those who want to win, at any cost.  Which rider are you? 

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