By Megan Scharfenberg
The countdown to USPC Championships is getting down to the wire. For many members, this event is the cumulation of all the hard work they have put into being a Pony Club member for the past year. Now it is time to get ready to hit the road! We have a few tips and tricks to offer to help make your preparations for the 2022 USPC Championships go smoothly.
Think About Your Mount
Start by thinking about everything you need for a one-day competition. Now consider everything your horse or pony uses on a daily basis when living at home. Since Championships is a multi-day event, you are going to need different equipment to take care of your mount. Also keep in mind that many horses and ponies are likely to act differently when staying overnight away from home.
Being in an unfamiliar environment can be startling for some equines and it may take some time for them to adjust to the new sights, sounds, and smells. Keep this in mind and give your mount some extra time to walk around and get familiar with where they will be staying. This will help them settle in quicker and feel more confident in their new environment.
Check the Equipment Lists
Now, about that extra equipment. When it comes to packing, it can seem overwhelming to look at the Required Equipment List found in the Horse Management Handbook and Competition Rules (see Section VI: Appendices, pg. 78), which is located on the USPC website under the Rulebooks tab after logging in and is also available for purchase on ShopPonyClub.org.
There are a lot of items, and it can take a long time to check off every item. One way to make this process easier is to not only start going through the checklist several weeks before the event, but to also work together with your teammates to get everything accounted for.
For example, every participant needs to have an equine first-aid kit with them. You can work with your teammates to go through every item required in the equine first-aid kit and check them off as you add them into your kit. This is not only a great way to help make sure you have all the correct items, but it also breaks up the work and makes it more manageable by enlisting your teammates’ assistance.
Getting on the Road
Now that you have considered your mount’s needs and ensure that you have everything packed, it is time to travel. Before your horse or pony even steps foot in the trailer, it is important to make sure you check over your trailer and tow vehicle to ensure that all maintenance is up to date, and it is safe for the road.
When traveling with horses to new venues, it is especially important to always keep the health of your mount at the forefront of your mind. You should keep a copy of a current negative Coggins, health certificate, and proof of vaccinations with you in the vehicle. Travel documentation requirements can vary by state, so be sure to check beforehand. The Equine Disease Communication Center is a great resource for up-to-date travel requirements and can be found at www.equinediseasecc.org.
This time of year sees especially high temperatures, and humidity is also a factor in some locations. You’ll want to make sure your mount is properly conditioned for a hot-weather environment. You can find more tips from veterinarian Rae Birr, DVM, in our previous blog post “Summer Travel and Conditioning Tips.”
Ensuring your mount stays hydrated is critical to keeping him happy and healthy before, throughout, and after USPC Championships. Make sure your mount always has access to clean water, and provide electrolytes when they have been working and sweating especially hard. This helps to replenish salt lost through sweat.
If your mount is fussy about drinking water, carry some water from home with you to help transition them from familiar water to away-from-home water. You can help with that transition by adding a little flavor, like a few teaspoonfuls of gelatin granules to encourage your mount to drink new water. But it’s important to teach them before leaving home to like water flavored this way, so you are sure they will drink flavored water before you are in a new location. Extra water on the road can also help with engine issues and for cooling a hot mount.
Making lists and checking them off can help you stay organized so that you have less to worry about when you get to USPC Championships. Remember, the goal is to have fun and to learn something new. Be proud of all the work you have done to come this far. Best of luck in your adventure at the 2022 USPC Championships.