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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.

The game has retained its elitist connotation; the US Polo Association organizes polo matches through clubs in various states. Horsemen also ride in sports that use dogs to hunt foxes, coyotes, and bobcats or point upland game birds. Fox hunting came to North America in colonial times; today the Masters of Foxhounds Association governs hunts in clubs in 37 states with a set of guidelines and bylaws that safeguard the private property they traverse, protect the animals they hunt, and provide for the welfare of their hounds and horses.

MFHA focuses on enjoyment of a horseback ride in beautiful country behind a pack of hounds seeking and running its quarry. The pack rarely kills the fox; most often it goes to ground or outwits the hounds. Each fox hunt club has its own territory and cooperates with landowners who allow the horses and riders to traverse their property.

The type of horse used for foxhunting depends on the terrain, with Thoroughbred and warmblood crosses often used in fields and brushy areas with fences and walls to jump and fast, tough horses used in western coyote hunts over larger, rockier territories. Sporting dogs such as Pointers and Setters compete in field trials to assess their ability to find and mark hidden quail. Since the trials cover large areas, the judges, handlers, and spectators follow on horseback, sometimes covering a dozen or more miles in a day. The horses used for field trials must have the conformation and stamina to do the job; the patience to wait quietly while the handler dismounts, flushes, and fires blanks at the bird; and the ability to work in adverse weather conditions.

Since it must also be comfortable to ride, participants often select gaited breeds such as the Morgan or Tennessee Walker. Some horse owners who enjoy trail riding enhance their experience by entering competitive trail rides hosted by the North American Trail Ride Conference.

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Horses competing in these rides must be able to cover at least miles per day at the novice level and miles per day at the open level. Competitions generally last two days with a maximum allowed distance of 40 miles for novice competitors and 60 miles for open competitors. Horse shows allow professionals and amateurs to compete in events that display their breeding, training and riding abilities.

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Many of these shows are one-day events held at training and riding stables, but some take over county or state fairgrounds for several days or even weeks. For example, the annual Quarter Horse Congress at the Ohio State Fairgrounds lasts two weeks and includes Quarter Horse racing and contests to demonstrate skills necessary for working cattle.

Horse clubs are popular 4-H programs, and some high schools and colleges field equestrian teams that compete in state and regional events. Pony Clubs of America also offer young people the opportunities to develop horse knowledge and horsemanship skills. Although horses no longer haul goods from country to city, city to city, or door to door, they are treasured symbols of the American past and provide a link to the animal world for those who live in cities and suburban areas. Horse and carriage rides are a pleasant way to wend through city streets and urban parks; horse-drawn hayrides and sleigh rides provide respites from busy lives; and horse stables allow animal lovers some up close and personal time as they learn to ride and care for these wonderful animals.

Mini Ponies Arrive On The Farm

Several cities have had vibrant carriage businesses but they are succumbing to sociopolitical campaigns based on false claims that the carriage rides are inherently cruel to the horses. Vacation ranches and horse camps are popular with horse lovers and provide or supplement a living for ranchers and camp owners. Dozens of western vacation ranches are members of the Dude Ranchers Association , a trade organization that helps members carry on the spirit and freedom associated with the American West.

Dude ranches cater to riders at all levels of experience.

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Riding stables provide opportunities to take riding lessons and trail rides close to home, and boarding stables allow city and suburban horse lovers to own a horse they can ride at their leisure. Many horse owners support their hobby by boarding a horse or two for a friend or acquaintance. Horse expos such as the All American Quarter Horse Congress in Ohio and the Eastern States Exposition Horse Show in Massachusetts include trade shows and vendor arcades that feature dozens or even hundreds of booths selling horse-related clothing, equipment, and services ranging from T-shirts and riding habits to saddles, bridles, nutritional supplements, horse blankets, veterinary supplies, jewelry, artwork, horse trailers, and more.

Horse breeders and trainers earn or supplement their income producing horses suited for particular types of sports or jobs and training horses for themselves or for clients. Probably the most famous breeders and trainers are those involved in big purse Thoroughbred racing, but these are the tip of the iceberg. Thousands of breeders produce horses specifically for harness racing, rodeo work, various types of horse shows, carriage teams, stadium jumping, cross country events, and even parades.

These hands-on horsemen and women are the protectors of rare horse breeds and the custodians of popular breeds that no longer have traditional jobs. The popularity of horses also supports a huge publishing industry of magazines, websites, and books covering horse behavior, health, nutrition, training, breeding, riding techniques, equipment, and much more. Living History Farms in Iowa features farming from with emphasis on horse power in the Horse-Powered Farm , and Kentucky Horse Park mixes historical information about horses with modern events and exhibits.

Its International Museum of the Horse is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution and highlights equines from prehistoric Eohippus to modern sports. The complex also houses a museum of horse-drawn equipment and related items. Many cities use mounted police units for a variety of purposes from crowd control and park patrol to search parties and public relations. Horses attract attention and provide a positive encounter with police officers; a mounted officer has a better vantage point than a foot patrolman and is often more maneuverable than an officer in a patrol car; and horses can cover more ground in remote areas during searches for lost children and fleeing criminals.

Horses selected for police work must be calm and steady in a crowd, and trained to ignore traffic motion, gunshots and other noises. The relationship between an officer and his horse goes beyond simply caring for the animal and riding along city streets to the development of a deep trust between man and animal. The officer depends on the horse to keep him safe, and the horse must learn that the officer will return the favor.

Federal, state, and local park rangers also use horses to patrol roadless areas, back country wilderness, and mountainous terrain, but military use is now limited to mostly ceremonial events. The magic of horses spreads beyond sport, work, and passion to aid for physically, mentally, and emotionally disabled children and adults. Equine-assisted therapy runs the gamut from just being around horses to touching, grooming, riding, and driving for a broad range of help for those afflicted with autism, learning disabilities, illnesses, injuries, and emotional traumas and military members and veterans with service-related injuries.

Building on the natural bond between people and horses, PATH centers work with medical and psychological professionals and therapists to design and implement programs for their clients. PATH centers range from small private farms or stables with an instructor or two who use their own horses to large corporations with boards of directors, dozens of horses and instructors and or more volunteers. PATH has more than centers that utilize more than certified instructors, and serve more than 58 thousand clients and veterans and active duty service members.

As often happens in our relationship with animals, changing times have resulted in changing attitudes towards horses. Once kept strictly as working animals, mounts for warriors, and perks for royalty, modern horses rarely work, almost never go to war, and are within reach of millions of potential owners and riders.

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As a result of this shift, those who work and play directly with horses as a job, career, avocation, or passion are increasingly at odds with those who believe horses should live in the fields free from such strife. The battle over the carriage horse business in New York City exemplifies this dichotomy. For years, carriage drivers have operated in the city, providing rides for tourists and lovers and offering city residents the opportunity to touch and talk to their horses. Veterinarians and other horse experts report that the horses are healthy and not under duress, and the vast majority of New Yorkers want them to stay.

The mayor wants the ban to fulfill a campaign promise; the activist groups want the issue to raise money , and a developer reportedly has an interest in the stable real estate. Since the campaign to end elephant acts in circuses, the attempt to ban carriages in New York City is the most dramatic battle between those who believe in stewardship and the working partnership of people and animals versus those who want to segregate people from traditional and beneficial human-animal relationships.

And it is not the only attempt by activists to sever this bond; they also condemn rodeos, horse racing, the harvesting of mare urine for use in hormone therapy for women, and the round-up of feral horses in the Western US. In each case, they claim that greed motivates an activity that is inherently abusive, an accusation that stirs emotions and opens donor checkbooks.

The fact that these sports and other businesses govern themselves with self-imposed animal welfare policies and regulations gets lost in the rhetoric, allowing radical groups to gain publicity, power, and millions of dollars in their deceptive campaigns. It is true that there are few federal regulations that govern horse care. The US Department of Agriculture Animal Plant Health Inspection Service regulates transport of horses to processing plants , and bans soring, a method of increasing the natural high-stepping gait of several breeds of horses.

Activist campaigns effectively ended horse meat processing in the US, but unwanted horses may still be sold for meat and transported to Mexico or Canada for processing.


Zoos use horsemeat for carnivores, and Europeans consider it a delicacy. In the breed association was formed for them in Denmark.

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The Knabstupper was absorbed into this and almost lost again. In three Appaloosa stallions were brought into Denmark by Frede Nielsen to revitalise the breed. Trakehner, Holstein and Danish Warmblood were also used. The Trakehner was preferred because it was also a good trotter carriage horse. Some breeders developed a pony line of spotted horses for children.