Posts Tagged ‘competing’

Viewing where the horses go

The holidays are here and, in New Jersey, the festivities are going to be heralded with cold and snow. Relatives in the South assure me that “normal” has stopped for them as well. Most riding activities consist of a carrot and a promise, if there is a visit to the barn at all.

Come January 2, a line of horse trailers starts to form at the Delaware Memorial Bridge; the Northeast portal to highways leading to Aiken, Southern Pines, Ocala, and Wellington. Last year that line was identifiably smaller and a fair number of Southern horse shows, dependent on the snow-birds, were canceled. I am wondering what this year will be like. Friends who have played in the Southern winter circuits calculate it runs them about 10 grand a month- travel, training, board, turnout, grooms, show fees, their own housing and amusement.

What interests me in this disruption of the annual trek south is the soundness issue of show horses. I wish the AAEP would run a survey or study on this matter. Here is what I suspect- sounder horses next spring in the North.

It is only 20 years ago that winter in the North meant trail riding in the snow or three months of R & R for the horses. Whatever the choice it was slow work. The landscape saw only a few indoor rings. The ground being frozen, people just walked their horses undersaddle on sunlit days and left the animals to their own games in the field the rest of the time.

hanging out with friends

Rest is the operative word here. I had an opportunity to listen to some of the nations leading equine leg surgeons. They all stated, the number one cause for an unsuccessful surgery is lack of time to heal. The horse is a performance animal and everyone wants it back in work ASAP. Being an animal whose survival depends on flight, horses may get a quick, low-level of heal. Enough to get them out of the cougar’s path. But everything is knitted together with bailing twine at that point and the breakdown comes faster and harder or the top performance never comes at all if the horse is put back into serious work at this stage.

There is also the question of what structures  are compromised that we are unaware of and heading for a catastrophic breakdown with no rest. And what about the sour attitudes and vices that appear with all work and no play. Surely there has been 12 month show schedules for centuries in warm climates- but I’m talking about a Northern life cycle, here. But it does beg the question of comparison studies in soundness issues of horses in no-rest warm regions and imposed time off in frigid climates.

winter grazing

Offer a cup of coffee to your older vet (someone who has seen the half-a-century mark) and start a conversation of equine R & R. He/She will probably concur: limbs, backs and minds healed during the winter solstice. Even now, some older vets might confide to you that many leg injuries and ailments just need time. You may think it was the last shock-wave session that healed the injury, but, in fact, that session occurred at the injury’s six-month anniversary, a time frame it would have healed on its own anyway.

Before the 12-month show season your farrier would tell you to treat the thrush, but not to worry, standing in the winter snows would clear it up. It would help the foot bruise, the crabby attitude, the tense muscles, sensitivity to touch, girth sores, saddle hot spots. There might be a lot of mud and dirt on the animals, but skin afflictions due to constant washing and stripping of natural oils wasn’t on the vet’s treatment list during this solstice.

Smokin Mokes having some winter fun

This is not a diatribe against showing. Just some assurances to those staying home, that the time really isn’t lost or wasted if they let their horses rest and have some snow time. They might have sounder, happier horses to perform in the spring. The only way to know would be to do a study- now who’s going to pay for that?


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I missed blogging in the beginning of the week due to a Web 2.0 conference. I’m a hybrid-luddite. I know nothing of how the computer works, but am fascinated by the potential it offers. I am also horrified by that same potential.

I ramble around a lot of odd places, picking up ideas and trends, and so it was the same at this conference. Each conference has its “hot” topic and it was augmented reality for this event.

If you are still struggling with e-mail, hold onto your hats because it is about to become Mr. Toads Wild Ride.

Augmented reality refers to anything that aids your experience of reality. AR doesn’t have to involve a computer- looking at a historic trail lighting up on a museum screen is augmented reality. But the really wowy stuff is with a computer. Take a look at shopping for an apartment in Amsterdam, then think about shopping for a horse. Thoroughbred and  Standardbred sales or getting more information on a horse at a competition; point your phone or goggles at the animal and there’s breeding and performance history as well as price if it’s for sale.

What are we going to do about our shortage of vets in the future? How about putting on your medical goggles that will walk you through stuff you can do yourself. (assess a wound, clean it , dress it, take a shoe off,  give a shot) You can bet in 20 years your surgeon will have some AR training like this BMW repair video.

It was an AR on-line shopping presentation that got me thinking about horses. What changes would we like to be able to view on a horse? Well, blankets and saddle pads just seem like a decadent waste. But, what about shoes? What if you could film a horse’s movements, coming, going, side to side, and then click on a different shoe to try and see how it would affect the gait.

The logarithms to do this would make my hair hurt and it isn’t even in the ball park of doable at the moment. Ten years out, though- an interesting thought. Imagine a computer screen with a video of your horse trotting at you and then away from you. At the bottom of the screen is a selection of bar shoes, wedges, trailers, lifts, aluminum, etc. Click.  You get to see bar shoes on your horse, but more importantly, you get to see how your horse would move in bar shoes. Your farrier could even show you how different trims would affect your horse’s angles. All of this before he even lifts up the first hoof. So instead of taking six months to try different shoes on your horse to find the best shoe and trim for his problem you can accomplish it in two.

Here’s another day dream. They are now developing software that allows for real-time monitoring of  thousands of items simultaneously. The preemie in critical care can have multiple systems monitored and take extensive calculations so that there is real time information that will allow you to make corrections and avoid disaster.

What if they could do that for a hoof. If you could put sensors in critical areas and monitor the temperature, blood flow, vasoconstriction, pressure, laminar stretching, etc. If you could tell the pressure was building before having to wait for a visual sign, would that help treat the disease?

Would it be a competitive training edge to have an AR run through of your horse’s performance? Take a look at this MIT video of a professor drawing out a motion flow. Now imagine drawing out a jumper or barrel course, put in your horse’s stride length and look at where you need to bend him, slow him, what happens when take off is at point A, B or C.

We never know where the future will actually end up. Augmented Reality is here to stay. The questions become “is this a useful concept for the equine industry and if so how best to use and not abuse it.”   AR horse racing—-hmm.

This isn’t augmented horsing, but a fun video

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