Olympic year has brought the summer’s two Irish equestrian highlights closer than ever before, giving fans and competitors a June and July like no other.
A few days ago we saw the ultra-talented Harzand taking the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh in emphatic style, just three weeks after his dramatic victory in the Investec Derby at Epsom.
Three weeks on from Harzand’s Irish Classic success, showing’s equivalent begins at the Dublin Horse Show, brought forward to 20-24 July in 2016 so as not to clash with the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Once upon a time, the closest Classic victories would get to featuring at the Dublin Horse Show would have been the racing folk chatting in the pocket bar, now racing and showing are closer than ever before.
Thanks to the insurgence of support for promoting the use of ex-racehorses in other disciplines, the Racehorse to Riding Horse Class is a recognised and includable event at any show in Britain and Ireland, and it has been showcased in Ring 1 at the Dublin Horse Show since 2009.
Preparing Your Horses
But what’s it all about, and how should you prepare your ex-racehorse for it?
Like all show horses, the judging criteria is the same – conformation, condition, turnout, manners, and ride – with two judges present to ride and view from the ground.
Physically, there are allowances made for the fact that these animals may have scars or bumps from their previous career, but otherwise, they are judged as any other show horse would be.
The preparation they therefore go through is no different to that of a lightweight hunter, a maxi show cob, or a working hunter pony, and the most important element to performance is nutrition.
That’s our area of expertise and as we reach the final build-up, here’s your checklist for a perfect Dublin Horse Show performance, whatever your class:
1) Match feeding with workload
Care should be taken to not overload any animal with feed; there should be a level of fitness maintained and an air of caution to be implemented on having any show animal too heavy, which can cause strain to the joints, inability to move with the desired amount of exuberance to show an animal at its best, and care not to have the neck over-developed where the animal may sound stuffy in its breathing.
2) Nervous horse? Try Nutri-Calm Gel
A rider wants to enjoy the moment, after all the Dublin Horse Show at the RDS is the pinnacle of many careers. You do not want to be sitting on an animal with so much excess energy it will be a balancing act to control for the entire time in the ring. Nutri-Calm Gel, containing magnesium and L-tryptophan, aids horses prone to nervous tension and may be beneficial to help with concentration levels during competition.
3) Dull coat? Add Kentucky Karron Oil for shine
In the weeks before, simple daily additions to feed of Kentucky Karron Oil ensures a sparkling shine to coats, before they even arrive in Dublin, and as a bonus this oil also aids digestion and muscle function.
4) Older horse? Gain youth with Ost-O-Flex
Ost-O-Flex added to the diet of older horses and ponies, or indeed high-performance showjumpers and those ex-racehorses who have had plenty of wear and tear on their joints, will maintain joint health, lubrication, and shock absorption, through a powerful combination of ingredients which aid cartilage and joint fluid production.
5) Poor eater? Add topline with Muscle Max
For those horses who require a little more assistance in topline condition, or for those horses who are fussy eaters, the inclusion of Muscle Max to the diet during the preparation stages can be of huge benefit. With a unique combination of B Vitamins, proven to maintain a healthy appetite, and Vitamin E, Selenium and L-lysine, which aid in muscle build-up, Muscle Max will help get the overall condition that a show animal requires.
6) Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate
Ensuring that your horse stays hydrated during the hectic week at Dublin can be a challenge, especially if we should be blessed with good weather. Just the stress of being in a different environment can be enough to keep horses sweating and sometimes not drinking either. Having some Equi-Lyte G or Refuel to restore electrolyte levels is essential; putting these in your nutrition box will balance fluids, promote faster rehydration, maintain appetite, and improve muscle recovery post exercise. Some Ice-Clay, for sore, tired legs, will be greatly appreciated too.
7) And, the last-minute gloss
When the homework is complete and the finishing touches are required Kentucky Hoof Oil and SC-14 Bodywash will give that last minute sparkle to ensure your animal is show ready for the biggest event of the year.
S.A.F.E. Mark of Approval
And, remember ALL Foran Equine Products mentioned above are S.A.F.E. The Foran Equine S.A.F.E. mark of approval is awarded to a product only when we are certain that it contains no prohibited substances and is safe for use in competition horses.