Those that do not go to breeding farms may find a home through the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. Some of these horses enjoy a second career on the polo field, in dressage or three-day eventing, as working police horses, participants in equine-assisted therapy programs, or as pleasure riding pets.
TRF also provides horses to prisons in several states so that inmates can learn horse care skills and increase their chances of finding employment when their sentences are finished. The United States Trotting Association serves a function similar to that of the Jockey Club for the owners, trainers, and drivers of harness horses, including finding new opportunities for retired Standardbreds through its Standardbred Safety Net. Three-day events developed from trials for cavalry horses and attract both amateur riders and Olympic-level competitors.
Amateur riders participate for the joy of training their personal horses to carry them over jumps on marked steeplechase or cross-country courses; professional riders make a career out of training horses for higher level three-day events in national and internationals competitions. Amateurs tend to use the horse they have regardless of breed or mix; professionals seek out horses of proven athletic ability and stamina, often Thoroughbreds or warmbloods.
The disciplines in a three-day event are dressage , a beautifully-executed dance performed by horse and rider working in perfect sync. Dressage is based on the training of war horses and requires the horse to respond effortlessly to almost invisible cues given by the rider. In addition to dressage, three-day event horses must traverse a cross-country course of jumps that mimic a ride through meadows and woods.
The jumps include a water feature and a variety of fences and other obstacles with long open gallops in between. The third event is stadium jumping , a tight course of high jumps that leave no room for errors. Three-day events are part of the summer Olympics, the Pan-American Games, and other international competitions. Modern cowboys and cowgirls participate in rodeo competitions that originated in the Western US when ranchers and wranglers got together at the end of a cattle drive or after a hard day on the range.
Rodeo events include bronc riding, calf-roping, cutting contests, barrel-racing, and steer roping. The Quarter Horse is the preferred breed for many rodeo events because of its even temperament, trainability, stamina, and athletic talent, but other breeds and crossbreds also compete. Bucking horses come from two sources : owners who could not train the buck out of a horse and breeders who produce stock with a tendency to buck.
Roping and cutting horses need the speed to chase down a calf or steer and the agility to spin and follow the animal so the rider can lasso the calf or catch the steer. Well-bred and trained Quarter Horses are the most common in these contests, but some competitors use Pintos or Paints.
Some rodeos travel the country, giving urban and suburban residents an opportunity to see some thrilling rides by some top competitors. Cowboy mounted shooting combines barrel racing with marksmanship skills that were important in the Wild West. Claimed to be the fasted growing horsemanship sport in the US, mounted shooting involves firing blanks to break 10 inflated balloons on sticks attached to a set of barrels arranged on a course. Scoring is based on speed and accuracy with points lost for missing a balloon and for exceeding course time.
Shooters dress in western attire and use two. Polo is an ancient game that originated in Central Asia as training for cavalry units and was played by royalty in Persia Iran and other Middle Eastern countries.