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How Do Horses Get to the Olympics?

How Do Horses Get to the Olympics?

For an athlete, representing your country in the Olympics is one of the highest honors you can hope to achieve. It’s the payoff and reward for the insane amount of training, pain, and sacrifice you have to go through in order to be the best. Trainers may receive the recognition, but how do horses in the Olympics fit into the picture? It takes years of hard work and training for them to find out.

What Are Dressage Horses?

“Dressage” is a French word that evolved from the verb “dresseur”, meaning “to train”. It is an Olympic equestrian competition where the trainer signals their horse to perform pre-decided movements to music. Horses in the Olympics are judged on how well they perform the movements. The rider must learn how to sit in the saddle the most efficient way to let the horse perform to its peak potential, with elegant movements.

Dressage Horses in the Olympics

The Imperial Spanish Riding School of Vienna was established in 1572 when horse dressage started to gain popularity. It became an Olympic sport in 1912, and only military officers were allowed to compete until 1953 (when all civilians were allowed to participate). 

It takes years to master dressage, considering most horses in the Olympics are 12-14 years old. That means they have been training for roughly ten years (they sure aren’t horsin’ around)! 🐴 

Even though dressage basically just means “training”, it means more than that. Horses are taught how to perform different moves, but the real importance is the connection between the horse and the rider. The goal is to have the horse perform the moves gracefully, without looking like the rider is doing anything at all (almost like horse telepathy!). That’s why it can take so long to master.

How Do Horses Get to the Olympics?

Did you know that dressage horses in the Olympics get passports at birth? They include important health information for when they travel. They are transported via plane to the games, where over 10 grooms and vets accompany them. Usually, each horse stall holds two horses. 

The in-flight refreshments include hay with high water content, along with water to drink to ensure that the horses don’t get dehydrated. The take-offs and landings are also more gradual so that the horses do not get frightened by a quick drop in elevation.

For the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, horses had to be quarantined for a week before they left, and they were immediately moved to a training bubble to prevent the spread of diseases. Then, it was game on!

Learn More About Horses in the Olympics

Click here to see the 2020 results for horse dressage. The team at BRD Vet Rx loves to see happy, healthy horses, and we are an equine pharmacy that reflects that. Search our products or contact us today for more information about what sets us apart from the rest.

The Best Ways to Take Care of Your New Foal

The Best Ways to Take Care of Your New Foal

So, your mare successfully delivered a new foal. Congratulations! As this adorable animal opens its eyes for the first time, it’s beautiful to think of all the wonderful things it will experience during its lifetime. Young foals need appropriate care to grow up happy and strong, so we collected some tips to get you started.

What to Expect During the First Months

After birth, make sure that the new foal is breathing. They will need iodine solution on their umbilical stump (don’t cut it immediately), and colostrum to  avoid disease transfer. After this, observe the foal from a distance and let the mare bond with her offspring. 

They will usually attempt (and eventually succeed) to stand up within the first 30 minutes. 

Defecation of meconium also usually happens during the first half-hour. Within the next hour, instinct will kick in and it will likely seek to nurse from its mother and start to vocalize. Have a vet or horse health care professional examine your new foal within 12-24 hours post-birth.

The new foal will continue to nurse for the next few weeks, once or twice per hour. As they age, they will slowly wean off their mother’s milk and eat other horse feed. It’s recommended that the foal is weaned 5-7 months after birth.

New Foal Behavior

As the foal matures, it will spend the majority of its time napping, exploring, nursing, and playing. Socialization with other foals and mares is encouraged, as it stimulates them and gets them used to new surroundings and other people and animals.

Foals will be naturally curious about their surroundings, and often a bit awkward in their movements until they get the whole walking thing mastered. Allow them to explore safe environments with supervision.

Discourage potentially harmful behaviors such as biting and kicking, as these behaviors will not age well. It may be small and cute now, but a full grown horse is very strong and can do some real damage to itself and others if you aren’t careful. A gentle bop on the nose paired with stern vocalization will let the foal know not to do that action. Be consistent with your reprimanding, and not too harsh.

How to Train Your Foal

Exposure, in various aspects, are very important in the early stages of a horse’s life. As I mentioned earlier, having your new foal interact with people, objects, and other animals will discourage fear and aggression. There are many opportunities to train and get them used to their environment – let’s go through a few.

Picking up the new foal’s hoof will get them used to future horseshoe fittings, filing, and other important grooming practices. You can also fit a halter on the foal to get it used to the feel of it, but make sure you are always supervising your foal when it has this on so they do not get tangled or injure themselves by mistake. 

Attaching a lead to the halter and practicing walking can also be done, but take your time with this. You can continue to train them as they age, so try not to over-work your new foal. Work in short sessions, pay attention to their body language, and remember to have fun! 

Things to Keep in Mind

Phew, that was a lot of information. I know that caring for a foal may seem intimidating because of their fragile nature, but with the correct knowledge and preparation, you’ll have a handle on it in no time.

 If you ever have any questions about training or anything related to horse health care, contact the team at BRD Vet Rx. We care for every horse and want to give them the best life that they can have (and have been for almost 100 years!).

Horse Training Tips to Help You Reach Your Goals in 2021

Horse Training Tips to Help You Reach Your Goals in 2021

Finally, it’s a new year. We can leave the struggles of 2020 behind us, and look forward to what 2021 has to offer! As you set your own goals, I’m sure that you are also making some goals for your equine companion. Let’s go over some horse training tips to guide you as you smash your milestones along the way.

Horse Training Tips – Building Trust Through the Basics

Any good relationship or skill starts with a strong foundation. Before you start making commands, take some time to check in with your horse. How have you two been connecting lately? Do they physically or behaviorally seem off? 

Involved horse health care is important for your companion to be in the right mindset to learn. If you’re looking for ways to strengthen trust, try some bonding activities such as massaging while grooming, going for a walk, reading to them, etc.. They will feel safer around you, and more open to learning.

Patience is Key

We all know the saying “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”. Well, make sure you’re not yelling at your horse, pushing it’s head down towards the water, or yanking it away when it won’t take a drink. This won’t help anyone, but it may destroy trust and give your horse a fear of water.

Forcing your horse to do things they aren’t ready for will only slow progress and hurt your relationship in the long run. Take your time – don’t put yourself (or your horse) on too strict of a timeline for learning something. 

It’s all about working smarter, not harder. Come up with a plan, take breaks when you both need it, and let your horse take its time. You will thank yourself in the future.

Make A Plan

As I said earlier in this article – work smarter, not harder. You probably have some goals in mind, but looking into them further will make your horse training process more efficient. Start by looking at the big picture, then picking it apart. 

For example, let’s say you want your horse to perform better. Performance could mean speed, agility, reaction time, listening skills, etc. Make each of these a separate goal. 

If you want to increase agility, think of different tasks that could help your horse with this, such as practicing different heights of jumps or dodging objects in a course. Work down your list, and you will waste less time practicing without intention.

Don’t Forget to Have Fun!

Ok, you’re probably thinking “Duh, thank you captain obvious”, but it can be really easy to get wrapped up in expectations. Horses are such kind, loving, and smart creatures. So are you. 

Having fun is one of the most important horse training tips you can remember – it’s about the journey, not the destination. 

As you’re grinning at the finish line, prize medal in hand, you’re going to want to remember all the good times that you and your horse had along the way – not the frustrated screams and exhausted give-ups. With a thought-out plan and an even better attitude, you and your horse will go far in 2021!

The horse health care team at BRD Vet Rx hopes that you hit the ground running in 2021 with motivated minds and healthy horses. We have been helping horses feel their best for almost 100 years, feel free to contact us or view our products anytime.