Posted on 8th May 2019 by Sue Tomlinson
One of the most interesting and rewarding aspects of life at Dassett Eventing is the opportunity we have to work with talented, young horses at the very beginning of their journey towards becoming successful superstars of the future.
Kate spends as much time as she can in Ireland, working closely with Richard Sheane of Cooley Farm, to ensure every young Dassett protege has the raw ingredients to be a star of the future. However, more often than not, the first time I see them is when they arrive post vigorous vetting, in the UK at Dassett HQ.
For me the assessment starts early; I always like to be there as the ramp comes down on the transporter lorry (it’s a little bit like Christmas morning!!). I want to see how relaxed the new recruit looks on the lorry, how they have travelled, the look in their eye and the level of confidence they have coming into their new surroundings. This often tells you a lot about what sort of a character you will have to work with. Some appear calm, relaxed and swagger in like they own the joint, others are terrified of the floor!!
All our new recruits arrive backed and ridden away as the time they spend hacking around the country, jumping ditches and splashing through water in Ireland is fundamental to their core ability to become event horses of the future, and nowhere is better equipped to start horses in this way than in Ireland. This also means that the correct foundations have been laid in that the young horse is happy and relaxed about being ridden, ensuring they are more open and receptive to education.
From here on in it’s about time, patience and an ability to listen to how the horse wants to be trained. The carrot and the stick is an often used, and an apt analogy. These incredible animals never cease to amaze me by how much, if you try to speak their language, they will give you for free.
That’s not to say they all speak the same language of course, or that they don’t seem to be able to change ‘nationality’ almost as effortlessly as they will find the only sharp stone in the field to stand on! But here in lies the challenge, and, when you get it right, there is no better feeling than seeing your once untrained and uneducated young furball coming over the finish line of the cross country at their first event with a big smile on their face looking at you as if to say ….”OH, that’s what it’s all been about …..can I do it again!!??”