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[RC] race brain behavior vs. Training? - Melissa Margetts Ms. Kitty

Bruce, As always, I love your level-headed explanations and posts on ridecamp. It was great to finally meet you at the Moab ride. My question on the behavior of these WEC horses at this elite level in International competitions is; "Is this normal, and common in all international equestrian competitions with elite horses such as these at this level,?" I have absolutely NO experience in international competitions and dang, Kathy's Brunjes post and description sure sounded a bit scary. It didn't sound like an isolated, single horse or two acting up either with limping riders trying to catch their horses after being dumped at the start, but this behavior continued into the vet checks too. Does this just happen mostly with "racers"? I have never seen coverage where international dressage and Olympic jumpers are acting like that DURING a competition. They TOO have been transported by trailer,& plane to these competitions overseas gone into quarantine, had multiple vet inspections and their sleep/wake/feeding schedule/climate/& WORLD/ has been turned upside down. The excitement of the atmosphere, spectators, riders, crew, cameras, film crews, strangers, different handlers etc. equally apply and often includes fireworks too. I just haven't seen any dressage horses at the Olympics, go nuts and start racing around crashing, bucking and dumping his rider. Theatric not being able to pulse down for 29 minutes at a vet check, attests that this was indeed unusual for him, and at this World Championship level, the qualification of these horses means that this is not their first experience at this, they've competed more than most in the sport by this time, and been through the same routine a bazillion times. They know what the start line is,as well as what is supposed to happen at the vet checks. Miles, miles, miles, experience, experience, experience. Like the original poster asked, though the horses are "conditioned", wouldn't their energy, control and performance be enhanced and they would do even better if more time was also spent in "training" and "ground manners?" Lorenzo the Amazing Frenchman's horses ALSO had to go through the whole transportation issues but can you imagine what his performance at the opening ceremony would have been like had even one of his horses lost his marbles because of all the excitement? No they weren't "racing" but they still had to perform perfectly under very stressful circumstances so it shows that a horse can be trained to focus on the job at hand, whatever it is. I understand that you sometimes have to sacrifice in one area in order to concentrate on another, but it would seem that training your horse to concentrate and behave under these conditions at this level is a "must". The only way you can make it around the course to the finish line, is if he allows you to stay in the saddle from the very beginning.
Melissa Margetts


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