Horse trainers, as a rule, do not come with qualifications, leaving equine owners the task of deciding how to start a young horse if they seek assistance from outside experience.
At Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days’ Equestrian Exhibit, visitors were given insight into what it takes to saddle and mount a two-yearold filly.
Out of Clear Sky Performance Horses’ stable at Benger, purebred Quarterhorse Poppy made easy work for trainer and Clear Sky stud co-principal Rhys Morrissey.
“I recommend interested horse buyers to consider the Quarterhorse or Australian Stockhorse as their choice, because both breeds have excellent temperament and ability,” he said.
Not to say Mr Morrissey only trains his favourite breeds. He will willingly take on most challenges, whether it is a full-blood Thoroughbred or a scaled-down Welsh pony earmarked for a younger rider with pony club dreams.
Mr Morrissey and parents Tom and Roxanne manage up to eight horses at any one time as a full-time business.
“Starting a horse is one of the biggest investments and most important in avoiding difficulties for an owner or rider,” he said.
“It is best to choose a trainer by watching that person’s stable of horses and how they go, especially under pressure of a competitive discipline.”
The family’s stud stable has two Quarterhorse stallions standing — Acres of Frost and The Huntsman — and two breed mares, with six horses competing in campdrafting.
“I invite all those interested in attending any campdraft that we participate in to view our horses at work,” Mr Morrissey said.
Countryman has photographed Acres of Frost in the advanced open horse competition winners circle many times over the years.
“Training a horse requires pressure and release and the rider knowing when to use both to create confidence and an enjoyable experience for both parties,” Mr Morrissey said.
“The term we are looking for is softness (willingness) from the young horse, which builds confidence. It is best to start a horse at two to three years of age, when it is inquisitive and ready, rather than attempting the breaking-in process when it is older and set in its ways.”
As part of his Equestrian Exhibit demonstration at Dowerin, Mr Morrissey began patiently with Poppy (Acres of Opium) doing some ground work — introducing the halter and lead, but steadfast, to keep everything calm and smooth.
“Don’t overdo things,” he said. “Some days, the young horse may not want to work, so look at where the horse is mentally. Treat the young horse like a child.”
Mr Morrissey used motion during his training, keeping the horse moving and allowing it to stop on its own merit.
“When I place the saddle on her, I let her move around to feel the new weight,” he said.
With Poppy under no great pressure and standing still once again, Mr Morrissey put a toe in the stirrups and then put his weight on her back, while giving a rewarding and reinforcing “pat” around the filly’s eye, similar of what a mare does to its newborn. “Make sure the horse can see you once you appear on the other side of its back, asking her to accept the partnership,” he said.
Taking the young horse to a more advanced stage, Mr Morrissey then took up the saddle, showing just how mature and switched on Poppy was.
Clear Sky Performance Horses co-owner Rhys Morrissey at the Dowerin GWN7 Machinery Field Days with two-year-old Quarterhorse Poppy.