In the beginning stages of my young horses, I start working them over trot poles before I ask them to jump a fence. It’s an easy exercise to help balance, coordinate, concentrate and strengthen their muscles and mental awareness. It also doesn’t pound on their joints. For riders such as myself, it helps me stay in a rhythm.
In early jump training, its important to approach fences in a quiet trot that’s controlled and relaxed. Straightness is really important early on, so I focus on keeping the horse between my leg and hand aids, and will add poles on the ground to help guide the front and back end of the horse.
If everything is flowing along, I’ll start adding some canter fences, as long as the pace stays quiet and steady. Riders need to be careful to not teach the horse to rush at take-off or on landing.
Introduction of friendly and approachable fences will build a youngster’s confidence. Don’t get ahead of yourself in the training and to always read what your horse is telling you. Start off slowly, because it will payoff later.
When schooling over narrow obstacles, begin with a barrel on its side and put poles on each side spaced apart like a ‘V’, so that the poles funnel you to the middle and over the barrel. It is very simple, safe and the horse learns early that they can’t run out. If all your homework is going well, you eventually take the poles away. You can also set the barrel on its end to make the school more technical, but this is only when the horse is confidently accurate.
The season has started out super for Eor The Terrific (aka Louis) and I. We’ve certainly done and continue to do our homework with specific coaches (Harrison Ford, Kyle Carter, Michael Pollard and Daniel Sarango). I also took a look at the equipment I was using and made specific changes, for instance I’ve hung up a particular bit and made the change to a softer full cheek Waterford with a running martingale.
Like magic, I have a happier horse. It took me awhile to figure out what seems to work for Louis, who is known to pull like a freight train. I’ve had a couple professionals ride him and they both handed the reins back to me winded and red faced. “I don’t know how you do it Zeb”, they said to me.
I was convinced that I needed a thin port Pelham with a chain. It not only made Louis lean and press hard against it, and it also curled his head and made him body sore. For this horse, this bit design only made the situation worse.
A lot of good ideas come to me while I’m sleeping, and it finally came to me of a simple solution. I also told myself that Lou’s happiness is the most important thing and I’ve nothing to lose. I decided to pull out my full cheek Waterford and use the running martingale attachment. It’s a softer bit that got me the response I’ve been looking for, and Louis’ comfort and happiness.
We had a positive weekend at Chattahoochee Hills last week, with a 31 in dressage, clear cross country and clear stadium that put us in 6th place. Lou went home feeling confident with zero body soreness. The old saying of “less is more” definitely applied to my situation.
The photos on this story were from last week with us using the Waterford and running martingale. Photos by Liz Crawley Photography
Now that Watch Me Smok’em (Stevie) has turned 4 years old, its time to focus on muscle development, footwork and jump lessons. Its been an extremely wet (daily heavy rains and flooding) here in Georgia and there always must be a Plan B to continue training the young horses. With the opportunity of excellent carpet footing and a covered arena, Stevie hasn’t lost any time with his progress. He is AMAZING!
See HORSES FOR SALE page for information.
Congratulations to Erin Sylvester of ESEventing and her team of supporters on their purchase of Shez A Queenie (aka Q). This Thoroughbred is a gorgeous mover, has a sweetheart temperament and will be very competitive together with Erin.
We do all management care of our Thoroughbreds (teeth, farrier, vaccinations, etc.). This includes microchipping the horses and registering the chip’s serial number with the Jockey Club.
The term “watered-down” is an adjective that means ‘diluted with water’ or to be more precise as it relates to this article, ‘altered so as to be weaker in force, content or value’.
I place an emphasis on quality. What can weaken the American Thoroughbred market for sport resale, is that the market is flooded with low quality horses on the cheap. It also appears that these horses are offered by owners who are looking to make a quick buck and ‘flip’ a Thoroughbred sale to people who believe they’re buying something of quality for a bargain price.
For my farm, the number of sale horses are kept at a minimum each year. This is because these horses are a personal investment of not only money, but of management care, training, competing and much personalized love and attention. Its with each horse that the success to their future is my own personal responsibility.
My horses check all the boxes when it comes to their marketing. They’re largely young prospects who have recently transitioned from the racetrack. I personally know each horse and their backgrounds. I know how each was handled and started at the training farm, I’m well educated regarding their pedigrees, and I know their management care during their time racing. I’ve invested many hands-on years with breeders and track trainers and this is what sets me apart from the competition. It shows in the class of Thoroughbred I promote and speaks to the environment of my business.
People do recognize quality and you know when something has been watered down. You can taste it. . . you can see it, you can touch it and you can ride it.
January 1st is the date for all registered Thoroughbreds to turn a year older. The tattoo under the upper lip signifies the date of birth and the Jockey Club registration number.
This time of year doesn’t slow down on the farm. I continue to train for competitions for the upcoming season and the young sale prospects begin learning more technical footwork. Trot poles, cantering pole distances and small fences. Updates will include photos and videos on the HORSES FOR SALE page and are also posted on the farm’s Facebook page. Please check back often to follow their progress!