Training Blog by Andrea Landis08.27.2012
HGF is pleased to introduce Andrea Landis, our Working Student Instructor this past summer at HGF and new owner of Brioso HGF--3 year old bay gelding by Bolero CXLVIII out of Quintera. Andrea's life is very full: she is a mother of twin boys under 2, a part-time Dressage Instructor, and full-time Physicians Assistant from Ada, Michigan. She is a long-time student of Christine Traurig and has trained a number of her own young horses to FEI levels. During this summer with the working students, Andrea has become introduced to the PREs at Hampton Green and, like so many professionals who now own HGF horses, has found the breed to be anything but the stereotype that she imagined.
Since so many of our clients are starting young horses, we thought Andrea's experiences and thoughts about training her own young PRE might be helpful. Andrea has agreed to put her training experiences down in the form of a blog which we will feature on our website. Her first entry is fresh off the printer and featured here. For more information about Andrea, you can find her on the HGForum on Facebook or call the office at HGF.
It Was Love at First Sight
Kim hired me last spring to instruct the HGF working students two days a week for six weeks. I was thrilled with the opportunity to be a part of such a reputable farm and to work with Lendon Gray, and the three lovely young ladies I was going to be teaching. I planned out my 6 weeks of teaching and was going to go on my merry way!
Wrong… 8:00am first day on the job, there’s Brioso standing in his stall, my life was changed. A total string bean, it looked like both of his front legs came out of the same hole from his chest, they were that close together! All legs, with a big bony shoulder, long neck, well angled, yes, bony hips, and this tail that most would kill for. The first thing out of my mouth.… that doesn’t look like an “Andalusian”. Oops, maybe not the best thing to say at a PRE breeding farm. The image I had in my head and the stereotype of what most Americans think of when you talk about Iberian horses, was absolutely nothing like this stunning bright bay, leggy 3 year old standing in front of me.
That day Jasmin Shaudt, wife of Martin Shaudt from Germany, and fellow PRE lover, was there with her mom to look at young horses. Jasmine competed two Hampton Green bred 5 years olds last year with amazing scores, and was looking to add a few more Spanish horses to their farm. Brioso was the first out to be shown. Kim asked me to lunge him a little for Jasmin, in a halter. Sure… an unbroken 3 year old who has just brought in from being out in the pasture all winter. I was floored to see him trot and canter around, with big reaching, balanced gaits, perfect as you please. I knew he had been lunged a bit the summer before, but this young guy was a total pro! I jokingly said to Kim, that I may come in the night to steal him!! But in reality Brioso stole my heart, and changed to course of my riding career.
So over the next 6 weeks I managed to sell my current horse, and with the help of Kim, was able to work out an agreement to purchase Brioso. In the past few months we have gone from learning voice commands on the lunge line, to breaking under saddle, and now Brioso and I are cruising around the indoor arena and out in the open fields. His canter is so huge, it literally takes 6 strides to get down the long side. He is brave and so eager to learn. He is the horse that talks to me every time I walk down the barn isle, gallops up to me whinnying when I get him from the field.
I hope to continue writing about our journey, and showing pictures and short video clips of our training along the way. My dream has always been to buy a young horse and train him up through the levels of dressage, and someday if all the stars align, compete at the Grand Prix level. I think I have found a four legged partner that seems to be up for the challenge! So with the help of Kim Boyer, Christine Traurig and Lendon Gray, hopefully you will see Brioso and I in the FEI ring… in oh maybe 4 or 5 years :)
One of the most valuable training tips I can offer thus far is: Train voice commands on the lunge line. Start this as soon as you start lunging and repeat before every ride for the first few months the horse is under saddle. Simple noises and words that you repeat every time you ask for a change of gait (walk, trot, canter, clucks, kissing, whoa.) repeat the process until the horse gets it, with lots of praises when they respond. Not only is lunging valuable to help the horse learn overall obedience, a steady rhythm, and contact with the bit, but also how to balance in transitions without the weight of the rider. This will make your job as the trainer much easier during the first several rides. Some horses do not instinctively know that when you squeeze or kick with your legs it means to go. As was pointed out to me by Brioso the first time I rode him under saddle (while under the watchful eye of Lendon Gray…..!) I was squeezing and kicking (as nicely as I could because this was my new baby) but he had no idea what language I was speaking. I could barely go past the walk because he was so confused with all my efforts. After spending some more time on the lunge line training voice commands, he could make the correlation between the voice and me using my legs (along with a helpful person on the ground with a lunge whip). Now with the voice commands I can use minimal leg aids, and just a kiss he picks up the canter, cluck and he trots. He does the transitions easily and with confidence under saddle. No loss of balance of rushing into the canter!
Over the next several months I hope to write about our training experiences. Christine Traurig is coming at the end of September to help me, so I am sure there will be lots of things to share!