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February 21, 2011

Starting The Youngsters Means It's Springtime

One of Elly Schobel's young horses goes for his first hack with the help of Andalusian stallion Oyente (right). Photo by Elly Schobel.

A number of years ago, I decided to breed two of my competition mares (one successful thru FEI, the other in-hand) to one of my favorite stallions, with hopes for two healthy equine athletes. Well, fast forward a few years and here we are—starting those youngsters under saddle.

Mind you, I usually start my own horses but was unable to find anyone to be my ground person. As a personal preference, I NEVER start a horse by myself. Longeing, laying over them, first time over the back, the first tentative (and often very wobbly) steps are, in my opinion, easier to manage with a competent helper.

As luck would have it, my new neighbor (actually, I am the new one in the neighborhood) Heather Carlson, an upper-level eventer, is also a young horse specialist. How lucky am I?!

So Feb. 14 was a VERY special day for me (and not for the obvious reasons). Raison de Croire, my tall, rather explosive (and seriously ugly) 4-year-old (we call him Nubsy), and Reve Dore, my equine 'smarty pants' were introduced to tack and rider.

Surprisingly, the 4-year-old was unimpressed and took everything in stride. The 3-year-old was not happy about being mounted from the right (both Heather and I insist that horses need to be handled/mounted from both sides), but did get over it quickly.

Just four days later, Heather and the 3-year-old ventured out of the round pen and, following behind my Andalusian Grand Prix stallion Oyente', went for a walk around the farm.

Both youngsters are off this week for good behavior. Heather and I will continue to start the next two youngsters. Yep, Spring has officially arrived!

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