Excerpt from the March issue of Heels Down Magazine.
By Max Corcoran
Max Corcoran has groomed internationally at the highest levels of equestrian sport for nearly two decades. She worked for the O’Connor Event Team for 11 years and has served at multiple Olympic Games, World Championships, Pan American Games and countless CCIs across the U.S. and Europe. She now lives in Ocala, Fla., with her partner Scott Keach, who competes Grand Prix show jumpers.
We are unbelievably lucky. In our lifetime, we’ve seen horses achieve back-to-back gold medals in two disciplines with La Biosthetique-Sam with Michael Jung and Valegro with Charlotte Dujardin. Almost three, because Big Star with Nick Skelton was pretty close.
It has been a very long time since a U.S. team horse has been around for two major championships in a row. Our attrition rate at the upper levels in the U.S. is enormous. And the lower levels too – the horses start to get hurt at lower levels making it harder to manage them at the upper levels.
Is it because they are competed too much, they don’t get enough time off, or the ground and footing isn’t good enough? It’s probably all of the above.
But this is far from just a high performance problem. This is a discussion at every level and there seems to be a real lack of knowledge when it comes to horsemanship and competition planning.
The competition calendar gets longer and longer each year with more opportunities to compete. I find that eventers are competing their horses too much. It’s now called the “short format” and since there are no roads and tracks and steeplechase, people are thinking they can compete a lot more. On the contrary, it’s actually harder on the horse. There are more jumping efforts in a row with less galloping breaks in between. Those galloping breaks are where the horses can catch their breath.