Horse­man­ship ex­plored

Countryman - - DOWERIN GWN7 MACHINERY FIELD DAYS - Bob Gar­nant

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.

Picture: Bob Gar­nant

Clear Sky Per­for­mance Horses co-owner Rhys Mor­ris­sey at the Dow­erin GWN7 Ma­chin­ery Field Days with two-year-old Quar­ter­horse Poppy.

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