28322102576_01099bc585_kFor all intents and purposes, there’s three reasons I show a horse. One is to win, or at least to do as well as I possibly can. This is the end goal, when I’m ready, when the horse is ready, when we together as a pair have the experience to do what I want to do, and an end game in mind. The second is to increase the value of the horse—horses need competition scores to prove their worth, or for sport predicates or breeding achievements. And the third is to help a horse (or me!) gain experience. I take my baby horses to shows as kids not because I’m expecting to be World Champion of Training Level, but to give them a taste of their future. And I take them out later, when they’re more finished but not yet Finished, so that I know what they’re like to ride in the ring as adults.

As a trainer of horses, I’m always thinking about The Plan for any of the horses in my care that I’m developing. Of course I want them all to become the best they can be in the long run, short run achievements be damned, so I don’t tend to compete them much at First and Second and Third and Fourth Levels. But I also know that the reality of this business is that I might need to sell something at any time, and so when they’re ready to do so, I build them upper-level show records, so they’re as valuable as I can make them.

Read the rest at The Chronicle of the Horse!