Required Reading

I am sure most of my blog readers are following the retired racehorse training project that is going on right now at Dodon farm but if you are not than let me introduce you to the latest training journal-

The regular website is here-

I am a lover of anything to do with Ottb’s and I picked a favorite already for this challenge. My favorite is Suave Jazz who isn’t the prettiest of the bunch but seems to me like a horse that is going to be the most trainable. I see that Steuart is planning on hunting him because he thinks that Jazz will handle it and that is probably why I like the horse so much. He just seems like a horse you could go out and about on without worrying about what will happen. Sort of like my Letterman who is a weird character but I can go anywhere on him and feel safe.

Steuart and Michelle do a great job showing the process of getting the horses started and how the ride can be different on each horse based on the personality of the horse. I think these challenges are so educational and I am really thankful for the Retired Racehorse Training Project for putting in the work to showcase the Tb’s.

I absolutely loved this piece that he wrote here:

The first thing to remember when working with an ex-racehorse is that it is a horse. It wants security, predictability, rhythm, and boundaries. No surprises.

Thoroughbreds love to work, and they usually come from the track with a willingness to go forward. They have been ridden by professionals every day, were professionally started, and professionally handled.

Some of the best horsemanship in the world is on the backstretch of our racetracks. Don’t start by thinking that the resistance or fear that your horse presents is because somebody in the past was cruel or incompetent. Take responsibility in the moment. Your horse is responding to you, so you must strive to be confident, consistent, clear, sympathetic, and perfectly balanced over your feet at all times.

Most people find that their horse 
off the track reacts to uncertainty by moving its feet, sometimes going sideways, and every once in a while going backward. We might feel like an explosion is coming, and the natural thing to do, as a rider, is to fold up into a fetal position and squeeze.

The opposite is more effective. The best exercise riders and jockeys are the ones who can settle a hot horse. Every single one of them keeps his or her hands low, finds perfect balance over his or her feet, and relaxes into the movement of the horse. That is a skill that doesn’t come overnight, but that is what helps the horse.

Boundaries are also important. Horses at the track go in a frame and connection that is closer to “on the bit” than some equestrians expect from a green horse. The connection in the bridle and acceptance of the leg are security for the horse. That means we should work to establish that connection right from the outset. Within the boundaries of our legs and independent hands, the horse can find rhythm and peace. Both the outside world and the rider itself are less of a threat inside those boundaries.

Sometimes your best strategy will
 be to allow your ex-racehorse to go forward. Remember, within rhythm 
is relaxation, and you can’t get much rhythm going sideways or jigging. Set your hands down firmly in front of the withers, get your butt out of the saddle (your seat is a driving aid and sometimes a major source of irritation), and trot or canter forward. When you do it, keep a good hold. You can soften when you’ve found the rhythm. Hopefully, it happens before you collapse in exhaustion and start flopping about!

So get fit, take your time, and feel the power of earth’s fastest and most generous domesticated creature: the Thoroughbred horse.

You can also like them on facebook where you can see more pictures of the horses:!/RetiredRacehorseTrainingProject?fref=ts




One response to “Required Reading

  1. Hi,
    Just wanted to share a temporary round pen idea that might help with your new guys. When I first got my TB he would rip the lunge out of my hand and go tearing round the ring. My trainer suggested I make a round pen out of caution tape (the scary yellow/black kind about $15 or so a roll at Home Depot) and I used the jump standards. It worked like a charm. He could no longer evade and quickly gave up the fight. The best part is it breaks down and is reusable if you carefully wind the tape back up. Hope this helps. I love the work you do and I love it when you have posted a new blog. Thank you!!

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