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BLOG: Establishing the basics with young horses and getting set up!

Amy Strapp and Yalambi's Fendi - Photo Amy Strapp

Amy Strapp and Yalambi's Fendi.

© Amy Strapp

 

By Amy Strapp

So here I am on Grand Final day/night (for those of my European friends this is a football (not soccer) game that the whole of Australia stops to watch) writing this blog, inside by the fire place, still contemplating the best place to start to fill you in on what has been a very busy few months!

Being home now after a long time, I notice and appreciate things that I had not before. I am practically living off a stable diet of Vegemite toast, Weet Bix and Milo, plus the wildlife and birds are amazing! Although I’m not super keen on the spiders so far and the impending snake season makes me nervous.

From the property and riding perspective things are going great; we have been setting up many improvements to the stables and property in the short months I have been home with more paddocks and yards for extra horses and upgrades to the stables!

Mum has been helping me with my riding a lot too, which has been fantastic! Riding a good fence is one thing but Mum didn’t take long to notice there were some holes in my flat work, stopping me really getting the most out of the horses I was training. With her help this past few months I am feeling more and more how to ‘unlock the door’ on different types of horses so they are all swinging forward leg to hand better then ever!

As a coach and rider you never stop learning and when a concept finally clicks it’s such a fantastic feeling, so I am loving learning so much with all the help from Mum plus the support of our wonderful clients, owners and friends who give me the opportunity to be riding so many different horses - lots of practice !

I told you all about our horses who, at the time of my last blog, were just arriving here in our stable: Yalambi’s Isiah and Yalambi’s Fendi. Both these exciting young horses have been working fantastically and showing a lot of promise.

 

Yalambi's Fendi and Amy Strapp - Photo Amy Strapp

Yalambi's Fendi over some poles.

© Amy Strapp



One of the first priorities for us upon buying our new horses was of course looking after them and feeding them to the highest standard.  Mum and our stable have been feeding Hygain feeds for as long as I can remember and we have always considered it the best product on the market in Australia. Almost immediately on their arrival here we contacted Hygain and had our horses assessed for their personal dietary needs and put them on the best program for each, which has been working out really well for both our horses and clients horses also. We have already seen major improvements in condition, especially for Fendi who not so long ago had a foal.

This worked out so well we are now very privileged and proud to have Hygain as part of our team, with them coming on board as one of our major sponsors! I couldn’t be more excited to have such an amazing company and product on the team to help support the care and management of our performance horses.

I want to go into more description on our feeding programs and how the feeding programs here compare to the way horses in high level stables are feed in Europe or South America, so I will put it on my list of topics to write to you about very soon!

As for Fendi and Isiah’s progress under saddle, both being babies just new under saddle when we purchased them we are taking our time to establish the basics before taking them out. What do I mean by this?

Broken in beautifully at Yalambi Stud in Perth, they are happy ‘blank canvases’ that had not been worked too hard, enjoyed nice rides out in the bush and were ready to enter the arena to begin the next phase of their training

This for us means first ensuring the horses are happily swinging forward into a nice soft contact; if you refer back to the German training scale, the first two steps are Rhythm and Relaxation, and this is what we are looking for to begin with.

Horses that come down to the arena to start work happily, when they feel the leg they don’t tense up but rather they feel happy and relaxed enough with the aids to swing forward through the back to an elastic contact and walk, trot and canter. 

 

Saddleworld small July 2016



The best way to achieve this varies greatly from horse to horse based on their temperament, conformation, how well they were started and the experience of the rider. It is important as a trainer to be aware of that and be aware that there is no black and white formula to training.

Every day with all our horses young or old, while we may come to the ring with a plan of what we would like to achieve this ride we also must be very willing and ready to change that plan based on how our horse is feeling that day.
We want to train in a way that makes training an enjoyable and fun experience for the horses, so they enjoy their job and want to work with us.

Upon feeling that we had relaxed horses we have mixed small introductions to the ‘lateral’ leg aids into the work. I say mix as we don’t get bogged into the topic at this stage in training, we simply see opportunities to come back and introduce it for a moment - either with just a few steps of a turn on the forehand or leg yield  and then we swing forward once more. By always moving forward again out of the lateral steps we are teaching them to remain thinking forward in their lateral work.

Both horses have also started to include poles, cavallettis and very small gymnastic-type exercises to their work. These inclusions into our young horses’ training are great as they allow us to continue working on exactly the same things we were working on in the flat, just now over small obstacles. The poles and small jumps simply bring out a little more character and allow us to work through some of the personality we will encounter at shows and outings, therefore allowing us to create ‘rideability’ in different situations. They also give our horses a break from routine, make things fun for them so they don’t get bored with their work and in the case of our future jumpers, we are of course introducing the beginning of jumping in a no stress way so it’s no big deal to them later.

 

Ozzie helping out at the end of another day's work - Photo Amy Strapp

Ozzie helping out at the end of another day's work.

© Amy Strapp



I want to go into more detail about what work exactly we are doing with each of these two horses as they are both totally different to ride so it is interesting but I can’t write a novel in one blog! So I will save it for the next blog and try to write much sooner, once I have taken some short videos or pictures for you of them!

So that basically is where we are up to at the moment. Aside from the progress with our two horses, I have been teaching a lot and have every paddock on the place full for the last few months with horses in training, so we are very busy and things are going great!

Another topic that has been on my mind to share with you lately is ‘young horse classes’. I have ridden young horses at shows professionally in Germany, Belgium, France and a little in Holland and have seen how each country does it differently. Now back in Australia, my mind has been on these different competition systems and opening a discussion as to which system or combination of systems produce the best environment for bringing up young horses so they are confident, happy horses that will reach their full capabilities in the future.

I will write again soon!

Happy training,

Amy

 

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