TRAIN TO WIN: Holly Woodhead – Introducing young horses to the eventing world.

Think it’s the most exciting part of my job, introducing a baby to the eventing world. The excitement you get when they start to learn their job and how much they love it, I am lucky enough to have some fabulous up and coming young horses thanks to Parkfield Breeding.

Having them since the very beginning when they have just been backed and the work you can do with them is vital for their years to come.. so where do I start?

Lesson one. I like to spend a lot of  time with my young horses on the ground, letting them recognise me and gaining their trust. If it’s just leading them around whilst I’m poo picking, leading them over poles or just having them on a lead rope putting fences out, I find the works really well with the sharper horses and this is a really good way to get their sharpness to work with you.

Lesson 2 . Lots of long raining in the school, up and down the drive. I like to use a rubber flumer bit and a key bit in the early bitting stages. Once you can stop and turn each way, you can get on bored, soft hand and leg on. I also believe your voice plays a huge part, walk on- trot on etc get the horse listening to you making them concentrate.. 

Lesson 3 . Walk, trot, and canter in straight lines and figures of 8. (a lot of horses are naturally one sided) but it is our job to make them equally supply and balanced, getting them to accept the leg each way and bending through their ribcage. I would only ride them for up to 15 mins when starting out. Then maybe 10 minutes sat on them while teaching or somewhere on the yard in a different environment.

Lesson 4. Once you find they are going forward in the school happy and by themselves, now it’s time to prepare them to go out into a big field. A lot of horses will be feeling very insecure and scared in a big one space, while others you may just need a neck strap and sticky bum jods! Either way go out with another horse, preferably a sensible one! Walk on all different types of ground, find some little things that you can walk over, low trees to duck under, tight places to squeeze through. When they become comfortable with this have a trot and maybe a controlled small canter, I would tend to do this up a small hill as they will feel less likely to have a buck as it’s quiet hard work and they will be thinking more why the ground is up hill rather than flat.

Lesson 5  4 times a week I would ride the young ones a bit in the school and also out and about. Once they are forward and with a nice soft even mouth, I would take them along to an event in the lorry or if I’m going showjumping with the older horses, just so they can see the world and get used to been on the lorry, the more handling you do the more of a bond you will get.

So that’s where my babies start off at. We all know that every horse is different and some take longer than others, some are a little naughty and some are just genuinely scared, but take your time and get that bond and trust. I guarantee you’ll be onto a winner.!

Until next time … Holly 

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