There was a lot of info covered in the "classroom" (non-riding) portions of the Ed Wright clinic. My notes were in point form so bear with me if they seem a little jumbled. Also at times there were a bunch of questions being asked & answered and while Ed wasn't wishy washy on his opinions, for me it was sometimes hard to sort out what exactly was being said (blame my hearing and the Chatty Cathys causing distracting background talk) Again its MY take on what I thought Ed was saying so please keep that in mind.
Feed. Test your hay! And if you do, don't just do it once and leave it. Hay grown in the same field but cut, dried and baled at different times can have different nutritional values. Heck hay in the same field cut & baled at the same time can have different values in different areas of the field.
Also research which lab you send it to. I believe Ed said Cornell had one of the best labs in the country. He told a story about one place he knows of that you could send in the same sample on Monday through Friday of the same week and have completely different numbers from each day.
Also weigh your feed! A lot of us know to weigh our hay, but at the clinic we were also told to weigh our grain.
Probiotics were recommended for competition horses.
For winter time fat & protein are especially important, with the fat being 2% below the protein. Fat sources are important too, corn oil for example can heat the body (cause lactic acid to build) and also heat the brain. Soybean oil and rice bran were good sources of fat.
Water is extremely important. Electrolytes can help encourage your horse to drink and come in many different flavours, experiment and see what your horse likes. If you have a horse that's a really picky drinker or won't drink away from home haul your own water if at all feasible.
Misc. Tack. Ed seems to like to keep things as natural as possible and is a pretty traditional guy. For instance his preferred boots are good leather boots, he has his own and there is wrestling mat or something similar in them to absorb shock (I believe). Neoprene style boots hold too much heat, he actually didn't seem to like neoprene anything (boots, pads, cinches) Polo wraps are good IF you know how to wrap really well. The problem with them is that they can only be used about 10 times before they lose they stretch/support/give.
Cinches, a good wool fleece (real wool) over nylon. A nice soft, mohair cinch is great but has too much give for arena events. Great for pasture/trail riding though.
Pads, they need to be thick enough to absorb shock but also need to breath letting air & heat through, and they need to absorb sweat. A good compressed wool pad (again real wool) about an inch thick, firm yet pliable enough that after 20 or so rides it conforms to your horse. Although there are some horses that have a more sensitive skin (such as one gorgeous Appy that was at the clinic, she was pretty much all white and had a lot of pink skin which was pretty sensitive) He said a blanket style pad made of 100% wool might be more comfortable. (I believe he said like a Mayatex or Navajo pad but I'm not certain)
Saddles. There was much discussion over different saddles, trees and materials. Once again real wool was the winner, this time for the underside of the saddle.
The treeless saddles aren't exactly 'treeless'. There's a rigid cantle and rigid swells. Ed demonstrated how when your horse is running they kinda fold together and can pinch in the seat area. Also due to how they're made, they kinda lock you in, its really hard to get up into that athletic position over your horse's first two ribs.
Flex tree saddles, well one girl had one and Ed took it off her horse. He demonstrated how when he pushed on it it didn't really flex. And that was with him pushing on it pretty good, so how much would it flex on your horse? He didn't really seem to buy the idea.
He didn't dis either the flex tree or treeless saddle. In fact Ed said something along the lines of "they're looking for the answer but they're just not quite there enough yet" The bottom line was, at this point, the traditional wood tree saddle, that fits your horse, is still the best option out there.
A couple more things that fit under 'natural'... Ed gave us a recipe for a flyspray. He was doing it from memory so I hope this is right. Take 1 cup cayenne and 1 litre of apple cider vinegar and shake together, spray this on do not feed!
(I'm going to give this one a try myself)
As for materials, everything needs to have 'life' or 'feel' to it. Reins for example... nylon or rope reins don't really have much feel, and not all leather ones do either. The leather has to be tanned and handled properly to make good reins with good feel.
(after my first clinic with him I really did notice the difference when I rode with good leather reins as opposed to my old rope reins that I used for trail riding)
Ed really did mean everything though; pads, cinches, bridles, reins, heck even ground. Ground can only be worked and used so long before you should take it out and replace it (honestly I don't think that is an expense a lot of us little, private back yard arenas can afford lol)
Another thing that loses life that a lot of people don't consider is the wool lining of their saddle. Even if the saddle is in great shape that lining needs to be taken out and replaced every once in awhile.
There was a lot of discussion about breeding, bloodlines and conformation.
Certain bloodlines are known for certain traits, but once you get too far back on the pedigree bloodlines are so diluted that a lot of what people talk about doesn't really matter. So if you're looking at papers the sire and dam, and their sires and dams, are the real things to be looking at.
Also there are some horses out there that are just freaks of nature. They themselves may have been outstanding athletes but they never passed that on and none of their close relatives had what they did.
Conformationally what he looks for is a nice full hip, symmetrical slope to shoulder & hip, a short back with a long underline, short cannons and a good wither.
So it kinda boiled down to the motion of the horse, how he/she uses themself
is the most important thing, next is the mind, then is the
As for exercise, this surprised a lot of girls. Ed alternates 2 mile and 3 mile rides each week (3 days of each) with one day off (ie Monday, Wednesday, Friday 2 miles; Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday 3miles, Sunday off). Of that time riding, half is a long trot, half is a slow lope. You do have to work in some speed work, he likes to sprint around the barrels to get that in. In fact he does some barrel work each week, or day, as the horse needs it.
The shortness of the rides is what really got to some of the girls. I was pleased to be able to guess the reason, longer rides work different muscle fibres (think of the conditioning Funder does for her endurance and long distance rides) If you overly condition your horse its harder to get those quick bursts of speed.
There you have it, a good portion of Ed's classroom in a nutshell (from my perspective)