Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Young Horses

I am helping my friend/fellow trainer start her young horse under saddle. I think I have mentioned him (and her) before, and how nice he is. Starting him has been very nice, because she has done the proper ground-work with him and has given him time to grow up both mentally and physically, without pushing him beyond his capacity.

I used to start young horses almost exclusively, a long time ago, and moved away from it because, in starting the young horses, MY OWN dressage education had kind of plateaued and was not moving beyond the "second-level" experience, mostly because all the horses that I was riding were sold before they reached that level (happy problem to have, I know). So I re-organized my business and set out to gain experience and education in riding/training horses all the way through to the upper levels.

I have had an amazing journey, and I consider myself lucky to have trained with some of the most respected horsemen in the world (some of them now gone). But along the way, I have gotten away from starting/training young horses, and do not even have the necessary tools at my own facility to do this anymore.

But lately, I have been missing it. Not enough to gravitate back to that focus myself for the bulk of my business, but enough to thoroughly enjoy helping my friend. It also "grounds" me a bit in the basics of riding/training. We both (fellow trainer and I) have to be so focused on the body language and expression of the horse, since he is a baby and his comfort (both mental and physical) is so important yet so fragile at this stage. He is taking his lessons like the superstar that he is, but we both have to be oh-so-careful about what we are doing---pushing the envelope, testing his abilities, but not only not allowing ourselves to push too-fast-too-soon, but also not allowing HIM to push too fast too soon. It is all so interesting, so familiar, so comfortable to me after all these years...but I can't let myself go back to that time.

What I can do is encourage younger riders to get the training and the mentoring that they need in order to start young horses correctly. This is an area in this country that has a big void of talented people--we seem to be a country of Olympic-wannabes (and I don't mean that as an insult!), but few people are interested in being the ones who make sure that the young EQUINE superstars are carefully and correctly started, as well as brought along.

If there is anyone reading this who is interested in making a career out of this VERY important aspect of our industry, please let me know. I am in a location (on the beach in FL) and in a position to make that a reality. Email me at mary@iride.at


  1. Commend you for your comprehensive and thoughtful approach. Dressage is richer by you. Hope the right people get in touch to say they'd like to train the "next generation" of horses...

  2. Kudos to somebody concerned about starting youngsters right! We need more people like you in our industry - and some days, it seems, in our discipline!