Publisher’s Note: Balance

Piper and Sundae having a beautiful chilly day outside at The Kent School (CT) with Hadley Zeavin

BY Piper Klemm

As we stride further into 2024, it’s such a time of excitement, and the pathways are endless. What will we breed? Who is foaling? What accomplishments might our youngsters make—from first trailer rides, to learning to stand in the cross-ties, to first jumps?

Thinking about horses and careers, I implore everyone to breed and think about what your horses will spend much of their lives doing. Look at the longevity and trainability of the bloodlines you use. Look 30 years into the past when many horses still in their paddocks today were bred. Look 30 years into the future. Then it’s time to ask yourself a lot of important questions.

How will you balance temperament with competition? Which extremes will make a horse too extreme? Which choices will give a horse more job options? How will we ensure that our horses will be well cared for by fewer and fewer people who have grown up in a barn? How will our big, strong athletes have long careers? When are our bloodlines the best teachers? Are we breeding the longevity for them to have the repetition to learn, and last during those golden years? Are we breeding for top level sport or to welcome people into the sport? How do we continue to educate owners that the first horse they rescue should be their own and ensure retirement and estate planning for their beloved horse?

As many, many people I know struggle with stress, anxiety, and various struggles, our horses’ jobs will not be getting any easier. Reading our emotions is probably more complex than ever in today’s world for horses. Reading the anxiety of our constant horse showing with unparalleled importance, traveling ever longer distances to be trapped in stalls and spin on tight circles is going to be a struggle.

We must raise the horses we need, combining being more local, bigger paddocks, more friends, and including more kids hanging out and becoming truly comfortable around animals of all sizes, personalities, and individual intricacies. We can’t fix society, but we can fix what we choose to breed, the horses and humans we choose to raise, and the decisions we make to start horses slowly and correctly so that they have the best chances for care, socialization, space, and calm for life.