Colts from a contest

This subject has been on my mind a lot lately because it seems to be getting more popular.
People ask me from time to time why I don’t enter a colt starting contest. There is now some for women exclusively. My response is “Why what’s in it for the horse?”

And though I would love to get a Mustang at some point, He will be started with an attention to his pace and comfort level and no need to be put on display in 90 days to do some amazing feat. I am not against the principle of the Mustang contests. These horses need homes and that is the goal, but I question the entertainment concept and putting them on show. Could there be a less stressfull way to do this? Absolutely. Would it be less glamorous? Probably.

I have watched from the side lines as a horse lover and a professional these colt starting contests. I have not been excited by what I saw. I see horses being started in record times and doing very complex tasks in absurd amounts of time. What impresses me the most? It is not the skill of the Clinician in the arena. As usual it is the huge heart of the horse. Their willingness to let us subject them to whatever our whim is. It is the same thing that awes me everyday I am around them. With that said, it is my personal feeling that I, as a human should not take advantage of the horses generous and willing nature. It is my responsibilty to respect it and handle it with care. They show me again and again their huge heart and desire for connection if only given the time to let it unfold.

My final thought is how Clinicians and horses are increasingly being put in a very tough position when horses are brought to them to be “fixed” in a few hours or one, two or three days. The pressure to deliver results is very high and again falls squarely on the horses nature.

We are obsessed as a culture with speed and how fast we can get things done. Just because I possess the skill to do something very fast does not mean it is the best way for me or the horse. Last time I checked, Horsemanship was not a race it was a skill that took the time to consider the horses well being at all stages no matter what our goals are. Competitve or not.

Just my two cents…

Colt starting contests, Mustang Makeovers, and Clinics…


  • Christian

    Good for you, Farah. I’ve detested turning everything into show biz for a long time, and the downfall of a lot of potentially good horseman is that they feel compelled to compromise the horses’ nature to deliver quick and spectacular results…..

  • Farah DeJohnette Training and Equine Wellness

    This is a good point Holistic horse but I can think of several good Horseman who have made names for themselves writing books, doing realistic clinics, blogs, and selling dvd’s of there work. Competition is also acceptable to me as a means of exposure as long as the principle is not lost in getting there. You can take all the time you want to prepare a horse for showing versus these “speed starting events”. Also the horse has to want to be there..

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