Saturday, May. 18, 2024

It Takes More Than A Villiage

As an amateur rider with a full-time job and family, I realized a few years ago that keeping my horse in a self-care situation—as I’d traditionally done—just wasn’t working. When my son was a toddler, I had a small window of opportunity each day to go to the barn. I would muck my horse’s stall, run a brush over him, throw on the tack and ride for 20 to 30 minutes, all the while keeping an eye on my watch. The quality time spent grooming or riding out on a relaxing hack in the country was relegated to weekends at best.
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As an amateur rider with a full-time job and family, I realized a few years ago that keeping my horse in a self-care situation—as I’d traditionally done—just wasn’t working. When my son was a toddler, I had a small window of opportunity each day to go to the barn. I would muck my horse’s stall, run a brush over him, throw on the tack and ride for 20 to 30 minutes, all the while keeping an eye on my watch. The quality time spent grooming or riding out on a relaxing hack in the country was relegated to weekends at best.

It was clear this situation wasn’t ideal for either one of us, and I reluctantly found him a new home. I spent the next four years riding and showing other people’s horses, which was a wonderful experience in many ways, but I missed the companionship and the true partnership you develop when you have your own horse.

Finally, about 11⁄2 years ago I purchased a new horse. I had to carefully manage everything, and one change I made was to find a full-care facility. I’m extremely fortunate to be able to keep my horse in a show barn with great people who not only care for the horses but also care about the horses. And that’s a key component to maintaining a healthy and happy horse—the people. When they really enjoy what they do and take satisfaction in their work, you can see it reflected in the horses, their bright eyes, gleaming coats and relaxed contentment.

In this annual Horse Care Issue, we profile a variety of people in the horse world who have found their niche with horses and who make a difference to horses and their people through their life’s work. In our “Behind The Scenes” collection of profiles, we introduce you to three inspirational horsemen you might not otherwise meet as their work is
typically out of the spotlight.

That grand prix horse you watched on TV that took the blue at the Budweiser American Invitational (Fla.) or at Spruce Meadows (Alta.) just might have arrived at the horse show safe and sound thanks to horse transporter Peggy Hedman (p. 32). Top horsemen throughout the country trust her to ship their horses, and when she’s behind the wheel she treats each and every horse as her own.

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If your horse is in need of veterinary care at the clinic, a vet tech such as Bob Thomas (p. 36) is instrumental in the process, although you might not even know he’s the one gently nursing your horse in the wee hours of the morning or changing his bandages twice a day.

And that lovely foal that your mare dropped this spring? You probably didn’t realize all of the work that went into preparing that FedEx container that arrived on your doorstep right on time 11 months earlier. But someone like Barbara Sikkink (p. 40) was the person who prepped and collected the stallion, tested and prepared the semen and packaged it up perfectly so your future star could enter the world and fulfill your dreams.

There’s an African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child.” In many respects it takes a small town or even a city of dedicated professionals to raise and care for our horses too. And this community becomes even more important when our horses don’t live at home with us. So thanks to people such as Peggy, Bob, Barbara and the countless others involved with the care of our horses, we can rest assured that they’re in good hands when we can’t be there.

Tricia Booker

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