For Love of the Horse had the opportunity to attend the Horse World Expo in Harrisburg, PA over the weekend. I have to say that our experience there was enjoyable as well as frustrating!
The vendor across from us (I won’t mention their product name, but it is well known in the performance world, particularly with barrel racers…..) sold a product that claims to “cure” a horse who has problems with bleeding lungs, ulcers, and joint issues. Wow, a 3-in-1 product that can do all that?? A performance “enhancer” so they call it. It made me cringe. If my horse has a lung bleed because I am running him too hard, I think I’d stop before I tried to give him a “bleed stop”! I’d feed more hay, stall less, and reduce stress to prevent ulcers, and I’d stop running AND pull shoes if he had arthritis or other joint problems. Is winning and hurting your horse REALLY worth it?
It seems like some owners will treat their horses like a machine. Run them until something breaks and then just get a replacement. Even a particular feed company next to us had a large picture of a horse with “mechanical parts”. If you just look at it, it looks cool, but if you think about it, it’s a sad way to depict a horse.
The enjoyable part was talking to the people who stopped to ask questions about how to recover their horses. These people had a different “feel” about them than the ones who stopped across the aisle. I felt their connection with their horse, and not as a performer, but as a partner. Frequently, they referred to their horses as their “best friend” or their “heart”. I like that feel and their horses will live long and happy lives because of it. That makes me feel good and it made the whole experience well worth dealing with the frustrations.
Well known trainer, Pat Parelli was there also, giving clinics throughout the day. Pat is an amazing trainer who truly cares about the partnership with the horses. So much so that he no longer will sell his “tools” unless you become a member. He stated that he “got tired of seeing people use the tools without the guidance” and hurting the horses. It was refreshing to hear him reiterating the importance of becoming a partner with your horse, gaining his trust so you can work together.
It was nice to get home to my horses. I could look at them and feel the connection as a partner, not a machine.