What is best for the Western Performance Horse?
This is the first question that should be asked by any one considering a purchase of or an investment in a Western Performance or Sport horse and in a broader sense, any work or activity/eventing discipline horse.
Western Performance Horses exhibit varied conformation classes and athletic qualities that should be considered when shopping for an equine athlete for a specific event or sport. The qualities that differentiate one breed of Quarter Horse more adept than another for a particular competition is the first consideration in the informed purchase/investment decision-making process.
The second step in the investment or purchase of a Western performance horse is being knowledgeable of the soundness of the particular horse being considered and the common injuries or afflictions that result in the horse being “off”. The consideration of the soundness of the horse is a weighty factor. Barrel racing for instance, requires speed and agility over a short course. A qualified veterinarian for prior racing injuries involving areas such as the knees, suspensory apparatus or the front fetlocks (ankles) should evaluate the experienced barrel horse. Signs of or a history of inflammation of the lower joints would be a cautionary red flag in the decision making process. The same can be said for the professional or amateur competition horse, whether that competition arena involves working cattle or the stress of short recovery times encountered in the endurance race environment. The same cautionary judgements can be applied to the average weekend pleasure horse enthusiast. Any doubts or unresolved questions that the new or prospective Performance Horse owner/investor might have, I would encourage as a professional horseman, to refer back to the guiding principle of horse owners, trainers, and championship-level professional riders everywhere and quantitatively the most humanistic: What is best for the horse?