Why Should I Participate in FOSH Gaited Sport Horse Programs?

Why Should I Participate in FOSH Gaited Sport Horse Programs?

Convince Me

What a great question. Most of us are involved with a variety of organizations each of which requires the expenditure of money. I am grateful that you asked the question as it gives me the opportunity to examine my reasons for helping develop the program and consider why others should find the FOSH Gaited Sport Horse Program appealing and why they may consider joining.

Brief History

When FOSH was founded in 1998,an alternative competitive program for gaited horses was developed. This alternative program comprised a rule book for gaited horses with an emphasis on sound and natural. The standards were high but FOSH felt the standards were what should be the norm for gaited horses. FOSH believed that gaited horses should be treated humanely and with dignity for what they could do naturally without gimmicks. Others breeds agreed and today there are 15 breeds of gaited horses included under the umbrella of the IJA Rule Book. The IJA Rule book continues to be the most stringent standard for the exhibition of gaited horses. The standards have not been relaxed and in fact are more stringent today than they were in 1998.

Reality Today

A major change in demographics and a shift in paradigms in the equine world required a comparable shift in the paradigms of any organization in support of the horse. FOSH recognized that change and the resulting change in the people who enjoyed horses. FOSH had always taken a broad perspective on the gaited horse and in every program considered the whole horse emotionally, mentally and physically. The FOSH mission statement addressed 3 areas –alternative competitive program, education on the humane treatment and training of horses, and the fight to end soring. In response to the paradigm shift in the horse world, FOSH expanded their competitive program through the FOSH Gaited Sport Horse and increased their focus on education through the Sound Advocate and clinics.

The gaited horse is often promoted as easy to ride and only good for going around in circles or for sue by those who are more “life experienced”. The majority of gaited horse owners recognize this is only a small aspect of the gaited horse community, but unless a person wanted to be involved in breed associations and showing horses, there were not many ways to be accepted or recognized as part of the Equine World. FOSH understood there were gaited horses that stepped outside the “gaited” box and participated in equine sport and discipline outside the show ring. Unfortunately in many instances, these gaited horses were expected to “give up some gaitedness” in order to be part of the larger equine world or were presented as grade horses rather than a gaited horse. FOSH believes in the value of gaited horses and wants to expose the equine community to gaited horses for what gaited horses can accomplish outside the show ring

FOSH Gaited Sport Horse

The FOSH Gaited Sport Horse program was developed to provide a program for all gaited horses no matter the breed. In this program, gaited horses can compete not only against each other, but against all horses whether gaited or non-gaited. The Gaited Sport Horse Program recognizes, records, respects and rewards the gaited horse for what the horse does naturally – a four beat intermediate gait. The gaited horse is accepted and praised for its accomplishments as a talented athletic gaited horse. There is no requirement to make it into something it is not or to hide the fact that it is gaited or to apologize for the fact it is gaited.

It recognizes the accomplishments of the gaited horse that can step outside the breed parameters and into the larger community of horses. It respects and recognizes the gaited horse that competes in a recognized sport with walk/trot horses.

It provides a permanent record of accomplishment for the gaited horse as part of the gaited horse community. FOSH acknowledges that other organizations keep similar records, but they are not limited to the gaited horse or to all breeds of gaited horse. The gaited horse is often overlooked and undervalued in the world of statistics

The FOSH Gaited Sport Horse Program crosses breed lines and allows the gaited horse to compete in disciplines and be recognized for that competition as a gaited horse rather than just a horse that competes in the sport or discipline of distance riding, dressage, equine agility, 3 phase event, jumping, hunter, gymkhana etc. Through the program, we acknowledge that gaited horses can compete with walk/trot horses and be successful in that sport.

FOSH publicizes the exceptional gaited horse in the gaited community as well as in larger world of horses thorough equine publications and press releases. We promote the individual horse as well as the breed through what they have accomplished as gaited horses in the world of horses. While the focus is on the gaited horse, the emphasis is on the accomplishment of the gaited horse who competes in recognized disciplines and in many cases exceeds in those disciplines. We celebrate the gaited horse.

We track of the accomplishments of the individual horses enrolled in the program over the lifetime of the horse. This tracking provides a data base for those who are looking for gaited horses in a specific discipline, or blood lines that may have the qualities required for a specific sport. This is the only program designed to track gaited horses in specific disciplines. Through tracking, the horses involved can be celebrated and publicized as a total entity or as individuals.

All participants in the FOSH Gaited Sport Horse programs, must be FOSH members. As a FOSH member you receive an electronic copy of the Sound Advocate, the only publication devoted to the sound and natural gaited horse. You become a member of the only organization that is an umbrella group for 15 breeds of gaited horses and publishes a rule book for these 15 breeds with sound standards that is used by multiple organizations that offer gaited classes at open breed shows.

You become part and support an organization that trains judges for 15 gaited breeds so that the gaited breeds can compete in shows and be accepted for what they are. The standards are clear, the judges are licensed and respected as knowing and rewarding sound and natural gaited horses.

As a FOSH member, you become part of an organization that has fought since 1998 to end the soring of the TWH. FOSH has fought not only behind the scenes, but as an active advocacy group for the horse – as a group that seeks to educate not only the gaited horse owner but the general public on the topic of soring. FOSH is the only gaited organization who has taken a high profile and active role in this fight. For 3 years FOSH organized and financed the Sound Horse Conference. This was the first time a scientific and rational approach had been taken to the matter of soring. The results of these conferences have been far reaching. One outcome has been the alliance between organizations that now support the amendments to the HPA.

You become part of an organization that supports the education and humane treatment of horses – an organization that educates and demonstrates their beliefs through actions. These beliefs are based on the whole horse – emotionally, mentally and physically.

I realize that many of the things I have listed may not seem directly applicable to the sport of your choice. However, they are important to the breed of horse that you have chosen to use competitively for a number of years. The outcome of the FOSH outreach and education programs indirectly benefit you and the horse that you have chosen as your companion. You understand the importance of sound and natural as well as training and conditioning to the wellbeing of your horse. You demonstrate this every time you interact with your horse whether through housekeeping or conditioning or competing. FOSH appreciates and respects the gaited horse in the same manner as you and wants others to respect them.

FOSH hopes to accomplish increased awareness, appreciation and respect for gaited horses by celebrating the gaited horse and presenting these accomplished, athletic gaited horses to the equine community. For some this is an intangible and for others it is the realization of a dream – the gaited horse as an important part of the equine world. Through the Gaited Sport Horse initiative and in particular, the Gaited Distance Program, FOSH provides a conduit to this dream.

Since 1998, FOSH is the only national organization dedicated to the promotion of the sound gaited horse emotionally, mentally and physically; fair competition; and humane training and education regardless of breed or discipline.

FOSH is a national leader in the promotion of natural, sound gaited horses and actively fights against abuse and soring of Tennessee Walking Horses.