5 Tips for You and Your Horse to Survive the Quarter Horse Congress
It’s one of the highlights of the year. Over three weeks of events and activities will take place in Columbus, Ohio at the 50th Anniversary of the All American Quarter Horse Congress. However, the excitement sometimes comes at a cost (aside from the obvious financial one). Three weeks of long hours of riding, lack of sleep, temporary living arrangements, and carnival food (even though it’s oh so good!), can take a toll on not only us, but our equine partners. As we pack our bags and trailers, keep some of these quick tips in mind to make sure you leave the Congress in as nearly good a shape as you came.
- Rest when you can- Long nights and early mornings are a given at the Congress and that can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. While it’s expected to be perpetually exhausted, you should definitely try to rest whenever you can, and we don’t just mean napping in front of your stall or in a tackroom. Designate time to go back to your hotel, RV, or trailer and get some sleep in a bed. It will not only help you feel better, but also focus better for your classes, and support your immune system to avoid that nasty Congress Crud.
- Support your (and your horses) joints and muscles- Hours in the saddle is great for preparation but can leave you and your horse feeling sore and aching. Prevention is always the best route to go but sometimes treatment can’t be helped. OTC pain relievers (for people) and other NSAIDS (like Bute) can be very limited, and AQHA and other associations have regulations about what can be used and in what amounts. Products like Back On Track offer state-of-the-art fabric that features ceramic technology that helps reflect body heat back into muscles and other soft tissues. While most only think about their products for their horses, Back On Track has a full range of products for people as well. While you wrap your horse’s legs with their Royal Quick Wraps or toss on a Therapeutic Mesh Sheet under his blankets, you can support your own back and joints with their back braces, knee braces, and more.
- Give your systems a boost- We happen to be fans of giving our immune systems a boost with a supplement like Emergen-C or Airborne. These are packed with immune system-boosting vitamins like Vitamin C, Zinc, B Vitamins, and more! If drinking your vitamins isn’t your thing, both offer chewable versions as well. If your horse is one to get stressed in different environments, and even if they aren’t, it’s also a good idea to talk to your veterinarian to see if there are any supplements they’d recommend as well. Things like probiotics, electrolytes, and multivitamins can help your support your horse’s system as well.
- Eat healthy- We know, we know. Who can resist Congress favorites like cinnamon rolls and Stromboli? While there’s no harm in enjoying these treats in moderation, you should definitely try to avoid living solely off of the carnival-type food offered at the Congress. Try to pack healthy snacks, and try to make sure you eat real meals on a normal schedule or as close to it as possible. Skipping meals and not eating is just as unhealthy as overeating the wrong things. When it comes to your horse, make sure to plan ahead and bring adequate amount of hay and grain to last the duration of your time in Columbus. Horses can be very fickle about changes and you don’t want to run out of what their accustomed to and have to change to something new in the middle of the show. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water and make sure your horse is drinking enough as well.
- Minimize stress- Stress can be unavoidable at shows like the Congress, but the important thing is to manage it as well as you can. Know what your stress factors are and try to plan ahead to minimize them as much as possible. Make sure you have everything in order from your paperwork to your supplies. Organization (or lack thereof) is a huge contributor of stress so try to have a system and stick to it. You don’t want to frantically be searching for your missing fly spray or forget if you brought your earrings right as you’re getting ready for your showmanship class. The more relaxed and less-frazzled you are, the better your horse will be too. Horses can be just as sensitive to the pressure of a big event so it’s important to try not to let your nerves transfer to your partner. If you need to, take some “me time” each day to just live in the moment and take in the sights and experience. If a few minutes of meditation helps you keep yourself on track, be sure to set aside time for it. Don’t forget to breathe, and most of all, have fun!
This post was sponsored by Back On Track USA, but all opinions are those of Pleasurehorse.com.