Celebrating our proud sponsorship of the Stepping Stones Eventing League 2019 at Wexford Equestrian Centre, Wexford, Ireland this spring, we spoke to our Brand Ambassador, Olympic Eventer, Gemma Tattersall on producing your young horse.
Whether you are planning to event at top professional level or unaffiliated, the key thing to remember when starting a young horse is that he or she IS a young horse and needs to be treated as such in every aspect of their handling and education!
Too many people rush the job and ruin a horse mentally or physically, so its key to take your time and build your horse’s confidence and strength slowly and carefully.
We breed a lot of horses and it’s so exciting to start them in the spring and watch them blossom. We always start off with long reining and lunging and getting them used to vocal commands and introduce the rider once these are established and then it’s onto hacking out and discovering life outside of the yard and schooling.
We always hack the youngsters out in older more sensible company because, whilst we are lucky to be based on a private estate, we still encounter vehicles and grounds men doing their various jobs on the land, so its important to give that young horse confidence in his early days so you can build on this for later life.
Hacking is key and whilst we do school the horse we do give them plenty of variety from jumping, pole work, flatwork and lunging. A bored horse can become a difficult horse and by giving them a wider education you can also start to see which areas your horse really enjoys and use those to engage and reward your horse or kick start his enthusiasm during a training session, should you feel he is losing interest!
Remember not to over do it both physically and mentally with a young horse. Plenty of breaks and stopping on a good note are far more important than sticking to your full 45-minute session and running into a problem because your young horse says ‘sorry, no’ because he is getting tired.
When it comes to feeding, getting the balance right is so important: Make sure that your young horse has enough energy in his feed to help him do his job under saddle. Too little and he just won’t have the energy to work properly and that is when you see injuries or a bad attitude develop and too much and you could end up with a fresh youngster!
We also get all our youngsters kitted out very early on in Childéric Saddles as they are growing – after all you want their earliest experiences of being ridden and trained the very best as the blueprint to the rest of their careers under saddle. Youngsters will grow and develop muscle tone, but the team at Childéric help and advise us on the best saddle to use as he grows and changes shape. The benefit of having a good fitting saddle is enormous in comparison to the cost of having to ‘fix’ a back or behavioural problem caused by having an ill-fitting saddle.
We also get our young horses used to travelling in the box, even if they are just coming out for the ride. Keep journeys short and sweet and make it a positive experience. If you have problems loading, then try feeding your horse on the box every day, eventually he shouldn’t mind going up that ramp!
And finally the most important thing is to have fun with your horse and enjoy producing him or her. These are wonderful times and whilst producing a youngster can be ‘challenging’ at times, with hard work, help and dedication you will have a wonderful partnership and horse as he grows up into an adult.
Photos by Jon Stroud
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