Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Conditioning your Mini To Show

Showing Miniature Horses is a great hobby for both adults and children. Whether you are showing 4-H shows, breed shows or open shows, getting your Miniature Horse in show condition is easy with a few tips.
Feed is probably one of the most important aspects of getting a Miniature Horse ready for the show ring. It is much easier to take a few pounds off a Miniature Horse than try to add weight later. The top mistake made by horse owners new to the show ring, is having their Miniature horse too thin. Many new owners mistake a thin Miniature for being in show shape. Judges will penalize a horse in the halter ring for being too thin.

Since horse show season start in April, start getting your horse ready in January. Make sure they are at a good weight by feeling their body with your hands. Because Miniature horses have such thick winter coats it is imperative to use your hands to determine their body condition. If you feel the backbone sticking up instead of flat, your Miniature horse is too thin. Rub your hands down the sides of the miniature horse. If you can easily feel ribs then again, your Miniature Horse is too thin.
Feed a high quality pelleted feed such as Purina Strategy for horses age 2 and over, or Purina Equine Junior for yearlings and weanlings. We REALLY like Buckeye Foal starter for weanlings ourselves because it has powdered milk mixed in to encourage eating. Stay away from sweet feeds as these feeds are mostly empty calories and will not give your show mini the proper nutrition. But if you have one of those horses that burns off a pound by sneezing they you may want to consider it.
There is a myth that show horses should be fed only minimal amounts of hay. This is very untrue and can cause your Miniature horse to develop ulcers. Be sure to feed the best hay you can purchase that is fine stemmed and fresh. If possible show horses should be fed 2-3 small meals per day instead of 2 larger meals or just grazing. Most Miniature Horses that are showing are not able to be on grass pasture as this can cause a bloated belly or Grass gut (just like beer belly). Alfalfa is great but only if you work your horse hard.
Miniature horses that are one year of age or younger, should just be allowed play time out in the pasture daily. Most young horses will condition themselves if allowed enough time outside especially if they have a buddy. Because young growing horses are still developing, you can actually cause damage to their knees and joints by overworking them. Try to avoid working horses under a year old on a lunge line. If they do need some light work, work them in a round pen for 5-8 minutes 4 times per week just by free lunging them in the round pen. But if all your doing is halter with your youngsters then a dayly refresher corse is just fine in 15 min sessions. You can work a babies mind very easily, just make sure you give them time to be a horse too.
Miniature Horses age 2 and up can be worked and trained more often. Before working your horse on a lunge line or round pen be sure to feed them a light meal so that they have some food in their stomach. Studies have shown that horses worked on an empty stomach are much more prone to ulcers.
For mature horses, vary their workout to avoid boredom and to target specific areas. For Miniature horses needing to develop chest muscles, working them up and down hill can be an advantage. Like humans, exercise should start slowly and build up. There should always be a days rest in between workouts. Most miniature Horses only need about 20 minutes of work 3-4 days per week to maintain a good show condition. But again, do keep in mind that they all, no mater the age, need time to just be a horse. 
Show horses should be de-wormed every 60 days to maintain bloom and exude good health.
A well fed Miniature Horse kept on a good de-worming program will exude good health and bloom. Supplements are usually not needed for a horse that is well fed and groomed, but perhaps for our seniors. Many people go overboard supplementing their Miniature Horse, which can actually cause harm by over supplementing. If you feed a good horse feed and quality hay, your horse should not need any additional supplements. Keep to the KISS (keep it simple) method of feeding and you will have a healthy show horse that looks and feels terrific.

Here are a list of shows that you can take your Mini to:
AMHA shows: Need to be registered AMHA
AMHR Shows: Need to be registered AMHR
4-H: Can not be Stallion unless its a weanling
Open Classes: Rules Vary
APHA: Needs to be Registered with the America Paint Horse Association, any mini with paint spots can be registered   

Any other ideas please let me know so I can add to the list

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