Spring Care Tips by #TeamDiO Member Rachel Senft
The other day I noticed a sure fire sign spring is here, my horses started shedding. With shedding horses, comes time to get their furry winter bodies ready for spring and the upcoming show season. If your winter weather is like Ohio weather, you never know what you are going to get and your horses are a probably more out of shape than you would like to admit. If your horses are as soft and as furry as mine, you know legging them up safely for the upcoming show season is important.
The best way to get ready for the show season is to be prepared. If you compete in an association, check out the upcoming show schedule and write them down so you can have a tentative plan for the early season. I like to write my shows down for at least two months to allow myself time to prepare. Mapping out your spring show season allows you to visualize how much time you have to get your horses ready physically. I like to try to limit the amount of multiple day shows early in the season as it’s hard on yourself and your horses to run multiple days in a row if they aren’t in tip top shape. I like to start with smaller, one day shows when I am ready to start hauling again.
When I am ready to start seriously legging my horses up for the spring, I start by watching the weather for the upcoming week to decide when I need to try to ride. If I know it is going to rain later in the week, I will do my best to get in as many rides on my horses as I can in the beginning of the week. I like to make sure my horses get a day or two off during the week to allow muscle recovery, so planning my schedule is important. Each one of my horses requires time off at different times of the week. If I know the weather, I can plan their days off to suit their needs. I have one horse which needs the day before a competition off, another who needs a day off in the middle of the week, and one who is better when she gets ridden every day.
I like to start legging my horses up in the spring before I take them to the vet to get their yearly maintenance and vaccinations (it is important to vaccinate before you haul to shows to help keep them healthy). I find by riding your horses for a few weeks before you go allows the vet to have a more realistic view of what your horse needs. Riding them for a few weeks before may help the vet discover where the horse may be getting sore and help eliminate the future soreness when you are competing in the spring. It will also allow you to establish a baseline for how your horse feels after some time off and help you determine when your horse may need veterinary attention or a little break later on in the show season.
I prefer to ride outside as long as the conditions are safe. I feel you can get your horses to really stretch out while loping or long trotting outdoors. Some indoor arenas can shorten strides and create bad habits. Riding outdoors and on trails gives yourself and your horse some scenery to enjoy and makes the workout less of a chore. By riding outside, distraction occurs and allows you as a rider determine what it takes to get your horse’s focus back on you and your cues.
Riding outside also allows the horses to learn how to place their feet. The changing conditions and terrain cause your horse to adjust to the changes. Even if it is a little muddy I still like to ride outside as arena conditions aren’t always favorable when you barrel race. I find a horse that is used to thinking about where to put their feet and how to stand up on uneven ground allows them to adapt to the ground giving way during a turn and lesson the chance of falling when that happens. This also helps lessen the chance of injury.
After each workout, examine your horse for any lameness, swelling or soreness. If you horse seems particularly sore after a workout, you may have overdone it. For the next day or two ride your horse a little lighter or change your workout up. You may have just simply asked for too much too soon. After each workout, especially if I have been riding in a deep or muddy arena, I like to treat my horse’s legs with DiO GEL from their hocks and knees down. I also spray areas which are likely to get sore such as their backs, shoulders, withers, poll, and neck with DiO CONCENTRATE spray. I often use the DiO in conjunction with my other therapeutic products. I find this keeps them from getting sore from their workouts. The DiO CONCENTRATE spray is great to use because when it’s cold it can be applied without removing your gloves. The DiO GEL is also great for you as well. Legging your horse up for the spring can also make you sore and it is important to keep yourself feeling great.
Keep records; write down how your horse feels after a workout if you do something different, how they handle certain arena conditions, and record their veterinary, chiropractic, or other care. This allows you to know your horse. This is the most important part of preparing for the season. Knowing your horse can prevent costly injuries down the line. Above all trust your instincts.
Remember the best way to predict your future is to create it. So be prepared and good luck this show season.
Meet Rachel Senft
I am a full time nurse at a busy orthopedic surgery center. I barrel race at the local, state, and national levels. I currently run 3 horses. Two of which I trained myself. I take pride in doing things myself and becoming a better trainer. I barrel race almost weekly. I compete mainly at horse shows as of lately, as I am seasoning a young horse. I have competed in rodeos in the past on my seasoned horses.
I give lessons to 4-H and youth Rodeo children to instill basic horsemanship skills in addition to the fundamentals of barrel racing. I believe to be successful one has to be well rounded in all skills before one can add speed. A smooth run is faster than a rough one.
Some of my accomplishments are as follows:
2016 - (IBRA) Ohio Adult 2-D Barrel Reserve Champion, Top Dog finishing in adult 2-D on my young horse, Top Dog finishing in Ohio Adult 1-D, Top Dog finishing in Ohio Open Barrels 3-D, and Top 10 year end finishing in Open 2-D barrels. 2016 IBRA National Finals Open and Adult Top Dog Qualifier on Jetta Jake To the Max and Adult Top Dog Qualifier on Teah Smart Start, National Finals Qualifier on Ratchetts Little Man. NBHA World Show Qualifier on Jetta Jake To the Max. Paint Incentive Fund Points earner, money earner at Cloverdale and Lewisburg No Bull Barrel Races
2015 - (IBRA) Ohio Adult 2-D Reserve Champion Jetta Jake To the Max, Top 10 year end Ohio Open 2-D on Ratchetts Little Man, IBRA National Finals Qualifier on both horses. IBRA Thanksgiving Preferred Show 3-D 1st place. Multiple 1-D placings on Ratchetts Little Man. NBHA World Show Qualifier on 2 horses. Paint Incentive Fund point earner
Previous - Top 3 finishing Worlds Toughest Rodeo, multiple IBRA National Finals and NBHA World Show Qualifier consecutive years. Earned ROM (Register of Merit) APHA barrel racing on Levans Black Bar, top 5 or 10 year end placings consecutive years in smaller associations, current APHA member, former member of AQHA and SEBRA