Did you know that young horses, especially warmbloods, can experience weird growth spurts even after age 5? Jenni Autry shares the story of Fleeceworks Cinco’s recent “growing pains.”
LISTENING TO CINCO
Tamie and Cinco at Galway Downs. Photo by Tass Jones.
Last week we met Tamra Smith and Fleeceworks Cinco, a 6-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Judy McSwain of Fleeceworks fame. While Cinco had stellar 4- and 5-year-old seasons — winning the West Cost Young Event Horse Championships both years and setting a record for the highest score ever earned in a YEH competition — he’s been out of work for the last few months due to a whacky growth spurt that left him uncomfortable in his own skin. After Cinco didn’t feel like himself during a preliminary run at Twin Rivers this spring, Tamie decided time off was the best plan of action for Cinco. “I had my vet look at him, and we decided he was going through a weird growth spurt where he’s awkwardly built all of a sudden,” Tamie said. “We decided to give him some time to get through the growth spurt and not keep pushing him.”
While in the past this series has looked at horses currently competing, I wanted to highlight Cinco here because I think Tamie and Judy’s decision not to push the horse shows a display of horsemanship that should be applauded and mirrored when similar problems arise with young horses. “This can happen, especially when you’re dealing with warmbloods,” Tamie said. “They mature much later than Thoroughbreds. He’s actually a hot horse and a little too full of himself on cross country, and he wasn’t that day at Twin Rivers. That day, he went around like a hunter. That isn’t my Cinco that I know. So that’s where we are now. We decided to just take our time.” Judy ended up bringing Cinco to her farm for six weeks, where the horse could enjoy time off in green pastures — a rarity in Southern California.
Tamie and Cinco at the Del Mar Fall Festival. Photo by Captured Moment Photography.
“The good thing about it and why it’s unique for me is I’m really lucky because I have a lot of nice young horses right now,” Tamie said. “That helps because you take out the selfish part of yourself competing and you really focus on what’s best for the horse.” Having Cinco since he was 3 has helped Tamie develop a special bond with the horse, and she believes her close relationship with him ultimately helped her realize something wasn’t quite right with the horse. “You have to really listen to your horse,” Tamie said. “He’s such an extravagant mover, and one of the vets I consulted with said Cinco is like a stone moving in circles on the end of a string. The velocity and force is so big, and if your horse isn’t mature and finished growing, you’re going to end up with injury.”
Thanks to Tamie’s vigilance, she took Cinco out of work before any injury could occur. “You just have to stop and say, ‘I can’t mess this up,’” Tamie said. “All horses can break, but you don’t want them to break because you made a bad decision. That’s why I slammed on the brakes.” After some time off to mature and settle into his new body, Tamie is happy to report that Cinco seems back to his old self. “I’m happy that we slowed down and took a little time. A few months is better than a year.” Cinco will come back to Tamie’s farm after Rebecca Farm to prepare for the fall season, and Tamie is hoping to aim him at the Galway Downs CCI*. Kudos to Tamie and Judy for making the right decision for a very special horse. Go Cinco.
Go Fleeceworks, and Go Riding!