Today’s society where everything and anything is designed for immediate satisfaction, with little to none sweat equity, ask yourself if you have what it takes to develop a young prospect. I’m inclined to believe sweat equity is of bygone days. I’ve noticed in particular over the past 10 years of self-proclaimed experts and Generation X’ers who buy an inexpensive Thoroughbred and then rush through it’s training and completely ruin their chance of becoming a decent riding horse. Then there are those who lack drive, ambition and just plain ol’ horsemanship skills to train a green horse because of their overwhelming need to avoid any physical labor what-so-ever.
In the real world its impossible to set a deadline to a horse’s training. How high it should jump, when it can do correct lengthenings or balanced flying changes depends entirely upon each individual horse and rider’s horsemanship. I always start with small goals over a reasonable period of time, and gradually increase the challenges when the horse accomplishes the lessons. I don’t skip steps and over challenge my horses in the early stages of training.
For example, mounting off a block while the horse stands immobile, or learning to rein back, walking quietly on the buckle are important lessons I always start with first. They’re small goals that are ingredients for the BIG picture of each horse’s successful future.
Training involves developing the horse’s confidence and relaxed mental state. Some horses are naturally relaxed while others will have a more energetic personality. Some horses are described as ‘kick-rides’ , while others are ‘forward rides’. One horse isn’t better than the other, and there are personal preferences for every rider looking for their next partner.
Developing and reconditioning an ex-racehorse doesn’t happen over night. Take into account that on average by 1.5 years of age, a Thoroughbred is being broke and goes into race training every day and on the same schedule over and over. They’re sponges and learn through repetition and routine. It comes to no surprise that they learn what to expect when the saddle is on and the girth tightened. . . . it means its time to go to the track and R-U-N.
Once home, the prospect stays active with a lesson of some sort each day. If I tack up, sometimes that’s all I do. I’ll put the saddle on and walk out to the arena and set fences while holding the lead. After fences are set, I may hand graze for a few minutes and then casually go back to the stall and untack. What this does is teach the horse to relax and to do nothing. I’m reconditioning them mentally, and it works.
Track horses have an incredible amount of experience that includes loading and traveling to different tracks, racing in daylight or racing at night, loud crowds, mechanical equipment such as hot walkers/ starting gates/ tractors/ golf carts and more. I take that foundation they’ve experienced from the track and build upon those lessons. I never attempt to erase their track experience, but rather build upon them and it makes what I do easier.
Sweat equity isn’t for everyone and purchasing a made show horse has it’s advantages. But if you aspire to be a good horseman and devote yourself into training a prospect, it takes a year of steady consistent work when an ex-racehorse begins to understand and show improvement in it’s lessons. They also begin to understand not to associate sounds, loud PA speakers, cantering horses in the warm up, billowing flags on flag poles and electric vibes from other horses with something to react towards.
It comes to no surprise to witness so many Veruca Salts walking around in designer breeches. Personally I prefer anyone who resembles Charlie Bucket, who worked hard on his paper route to support his family.
GO Thoroughbred . . . GO the Charlie Buckets of the world!
A heartfelt congratulations goes to Kirstin Murphy of Longview Farm in Alabama on the purchase of Prince Neff. Kirstin comes from ‘Equestrian Royalty’ (google Dennis Murphy), and she plans on campaigning Eddie in the Retired Racehorse Project 2018.
Congratulation to Bryant McGee on his purchase of Handsome Jake. We are all thrilled knowing that its not only a perfect match, but that we will continue to see Jake move up the ranks in Eventing and follow his future success. Thank you Bryant for your love of Thoroughbreds and we look forward to seeing you both at the horse trials!
Nature’s first dapple is grey.
Her hardest color to stay.
Her early coat’s a bay, but only so a day.
Then dapple subsides to white, in the morning light.
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing grey can stay.
Congratulations to Judy McDonald on her purchase of Coach E! Judy will continue to develop Coach and bring her along as a show horse, with also the hopes of enjoying her chasing the hounds in the next few years.
Congratulation to Sandra McDonald on the purchase of our beautiful Betsy. We are so pleased that she will be Eventing with you and that its a start of a long and successful partnership together.
GO Betsy! GO Thoroughbred!
It is usually articles in well circulated publications titled “Buyer’s Beware” that frighten the you-know-what out of the readers when it comes to the shady underworld of horse sellers. As a seller of Thoroughbreds for the competition world, I’ve gone through great lengths of marketing all my horses with clear and honest representation. I’ve been told numerous times that honesty is a rare trait in the horse world, and I can agree. But it goes both ways as a buyer and as a seller.
I vet buyers before they come to the farm to try the horses. I ask questions relevant to what their requirements are and then I tell them what mine are in order to buy a horse from me. Some may consider it intrusive of me. . . I think its smart.
For some strange reason there seems to be an influx of potential buyers who shall I say, are a smidge dishonest and come from La-La Land. The meetings are always a learning experience, very memorable and downright frustrating.
I hope to provide fellow sellers a peek into my experiences and how even the sweetest looking buyer in breeches is potentially someone in sheep’s clothing. Here is a list of interesting and true tidbits that will leave you nodding, shaking your head, laughing, and slack-jawed.
My final experience is a doosey! After wasting my time for over 7 hours, and the person was still not making a decision to purchasing a horse, I was asked, “Is this horse fast?”
Exhausted, we walked out to the back pasture, I opened the gate and took the bridle off. I smiled at the person and slapped the horse on the rump and watched him gallop full speed down the hill and out of sight. “Was that fast enough for you?” I asked.
So to the buyers out there, I want you to know that I’m a straight shooter and I want to sell you one of my horses only if you’re honest with me and don’t play games. You’ll be lucky to have one of my Thoroughbreds to call your own.
Don’t be that person in sheep’s clothing.
GO Thoroughbred – GO Little Kentucky Farm!
Little Kentucky Farm would like to congratulate Karen Kerby of Pleasant Hills Farm on the purchase of Zuzu’s Petals. This will be Karen’s 2nd horse purchased from us!
Thank you and congratulations to the Lombardi family of New Jersey on their purchase of this lovely 3 year old prospect, Wing Tip Shoes (Hunter).
GO Hunter! – GO Thoroughbred!
It has been tough watching my partner grow old. I’ve discovered as Heathcliff has changed through the years, that I’ve been changing right along with him. We’ve gotten old together. I made him a single promise when we first met, that I would do everything in my power to make him happy. I hope I did that, right up to the end. I feel a bit lost without him, but I suppose that too shall pass.
I was returning back to the shed row when I first noticed him. He was a deep chestnut galloping alone in a pasture against the background of white fencing at the training track. I kept my eye on him as I rode up the pathway and it was a good thing that I did because from the back of the pasture, the chestnut colt took off at full speed down the side of the fence line straight for us.
The next thing I heard was a high pitch shrill when he spotteds us and he had no plans of slowing down as he was getting closer to the end of the field. I can remember feeling my stomach tighten and realizing that this crazy thing was going to crash into the fence and kill itself.
I jumped off my horse and yelled for help, hoping that someone could stop what was bound to happen any second. The grooms and a handful of stout Irish boys came to the barn’s doorway to see what trouble the silly blonde girl got herself into.
I was scared to look in the direction of the colt, and there was nothing anyone could do to stop him. He screamed again as he came to the fence, rocked back onto his hind quarters and lifted off the ground giving it everything he had, while clearing the 5′ fence.
We were all silent. Everyone. Totally silent. We stood there looking at each other, looking at the fence and back at each other. He cleared it. He more than cleared it – he sailed over it. It was beautiful. It was poetry. It was the type of jump folks would talk about over a pint at the pub.
Then someone broke the silence with a, “Bloody f- – -ing hell! Did you see that?”
We located the colt grazing peacefully outside the broodmare’s paddock, the ladies standing nearby trying to get the colt’s attention. He never bothered to make their acquaintance, but simply wanted to graze near them and not be alone. He hated to be alone.
That was how it all began. I promised to make him happy and I promised he’d never be alone.