Speed Kills Horses
By Don Blazer
It's a common phrase among race horse trainers.
It can mean "rushing a horse's training" causes injuries. It can mean a horse that runs too fast early in a race will have nothing left for the finish. It can mean too much speed by any horse is going to end in physical breakdown. And physical breakdown for a horse can mean the end of a career, a lifetime of lameness, euthanasia.
Yet we exalt speed constantly.
We glorify the capture and "competition-training" of a horse in three days, praising the clinicians' horsemanship skills, when in actuality they've done nothing but "flooded" the horse into submission. A horse can be subdued in three hours, yet all horses require a "lifetime" of training.
Farrier competitions are not about the balancing or understanding of the horse's hoof, but about the speed with which a shoe can be shaped and tacked into place. Farrier competitions are about the speed of using tools, not about time and consideration for a healthy hoof.
When a horse is suffering joint problems or other aches and pains, there's a rush to get the horse back into competition and we "hail the supplements" that allow us to continue a "speedy" destruction.
We know speed kills, so why don't we slow down?
For most of mankind, life and the world are about faster, higher, stronger, longer.
When we're young, everything is about speed. We can't wait to get there, have this, enjoy that. We don't want to do one thing at a time; we want to do 10 things at once.
We want to jump on our horses (bareback because we can't take time to groom and saddle) and race to the far end of the property. We don't have time to "stop and smell the roses" because we are too busy rushing to accomplish nothing.
When we start to get a little more serious about our horsemanship we start looking for all the short cuts to success.
Videos are going to show us how a horse can go from green to a championship, and it's only going to take one hour and 20 minutes. (We seldom read about horsemanship, training and health care because reading is too slow, and everyone knows you can't learn horsemanship from a book.)
We're going to go to the weekend "expo" and see seven different clinicians each of which as the magic bullet, carrot stick, down-under wand, resistance free bridle, be good halter and clicker tricker.
Or we're going to take private lessons and speed up our arrival at "expert" in riding and training. And if this instructor should fail in getting us to the top, then we can quickly change to someone else; there is never a shortage of speed merchants.
But there will come a time when you will know that speed kills.
And then you will no longer be impressed by speed.
Instead, you'll be impressed by the art of horsemanship practiced over a lifetime.
You'll be pleased by the fact no horse's training is ever finished; there is no need to rush. You're never going to complete the journey, so you can enjoy the journey.
Whatever you want to teach your horse, whatever you want to accomplish, it isn't going to get done in a day, or a week or even a month. What you can teach, what you can accomplish today is a tiny bit more understanding by your horse. And that's enough.
Slow down! Speed kills!