How Lynda Hayes finds her next champion horse.
25TH Sep, 2020
How to pick and start youngsters - with LYNDA HAYES.
(A general guide)
What do you look for?
I always have an image in my mind of the perfect horse. I go to see most of the horses I purchase at the yearling stage. The younger they are, the harder it is, but usually also cheaper!
I firstly look for presence in a horse. I have to love what I see instantly. I like to see a horse in the paddock and watch their personalities and it tells you a lot.
- Are there tracks from them running the fence = busy or stressie?
- Are they clingy? I watch them led in and again how they react. I love a horse to sit up in front. You can see this in the paddock as well.
- Are they nervous etc? Their behaviour will help to see if the temperament is right for the discipline you are competing in. I like a bold, fearless horse but with that comes extra schooling and desensitisation! I seem to attract mares and they are a whole different package to a gelding. So before you go look, think about what it is you're needing. Don’t buy a Jeep if you want a Ferrari. And if you buy the Ferrari - can you ride it?
Looking at the youngster.
I like to turn up early and see what’s going on. I look very closely at the conformation of the horse, again, with the discipline in mind. I know what I will forgive and what is a definite no. I like a short backed, square horse. I don’t like long horses but in a mare I will forgive a little bit.
I am a big fan of movement. They need to get up and go!
I like a beautiful head and well set neck/gullet. Remember, the longer the neck, the harder it can be to ride and shape. I like straight legs but if everything else is spot on, I will forgive a bit here also. I don't like very upright pasterns. I find it usually relates to an uncomfortable ride, generally speaking. Remember I cannot sit on these horses when I’m looking at them. I love a great hind quarter, but remember it will change with work and maturity. I love shaping the babies into what I like.
Out and about with a youngster.
Above is the current horse I am showing - 'Wideacre Black Diamond', owned by Vicki Pisciotta and bred by Micheal Christie. She was 2 here, and always beautiful, she was an easy find. But again, everything I wanted. She has a head stall on here as she was not broken in, so I like to leave the mouth alone while leading them around at this point. This was one of her first times out at a show, so boots on legs is a must, just in case they get a fright and stand on themselves. I lead them everywhere. Show them everything on their terms. Don’t scare them.
What I look for.
Diamond has the colour to catch a judge's eye and floats across the ground. She has a great length of rein but any longer and it gets hard to ride. They can wiggle the neck like a giraffe lol. She was very fiery when we looked at her but reasonable in her mind set. I like that. She was out from home and in a new environment. She is basically very quiet and just a bit overwhelmed in big open spaces, but with training and patience and trust (especially with a mare) she has overcome this.
I don’t pay a lot of attention to breeding unless there are bad traits being passed down consistently. I have had 5 full brothers and sisters here and none ever looked the same, and crossed from a little pony to open big pony to show hunter Galloway. I will follow stallions that stamp a particular look or nature and look at the dams of the yearlings and hope to make an assessment. You just don’t know what you have until you break it in. We all cross our fingers and hope it’s great. If the structure is sound and nature good, then the odds are in your favour. You must love what you see.
The way you school your youngster can determine the outcome under saddle. I like to expose my babies to the ring early and take them away from home also. I keep their routines as close to home as possible and don’t over stress them. I don’t tend to lunge a lot but teach them the basics off a head stall.
Find a great breaker. Usually the horses are around 3-4 years old. It really is the most important part. Ride one they have broken in if possible. Talk to people who have used that breaker. Go and see the set up. Talk and talk to them before ever sending your baby away. Ring a lot and go see your horse often. I don’t send a horse to anyone if that is a problem for them. I tend to have the horses mouthed and lunging here before they go away to the breakers and they stay there around 4-6 weeks. The breaker will guide you. They come home and are turned out for 6 months and then sent back for two weeks and then off I go. They are only ridden for about fifteen minutes every day for at least 2 months and then slowly build. This is my way and everyone does things differently but all my horses have gone on for many, many years after they have left me.
Always ride breakers confidently and they will respond. Slowly over time I introduce obstacles in the arena and work outside once I have brakes and steering well established. I tend to do a lot at the walk and trot. I find if these are established, canter comes easily, without a lot of schooling. Again, it goes back to watching them as a baby. Do they have a balanced canter when you first see them? It does make it easier if it’s already there.
Imagine what you want in the end result and slowly work along that timeline and frame. Do not rush. Your horse will tell you, and be ready to give them a rest if needed. I am seeing young horses pushed too hard these days and then they do two years in the ring and they disappear. Taken easy, they will reward for a very long time.
I hope this has helped, and again, my opinion here and in general terms. Below is the finished product and I just love how Diamond has matured. She has been very successful, but take your time and they will reward you ten fold as she has done, for myself, her owner and breeder.
Happy riding. Love what you do!
Lynda Hayes has a Diploma in Horse Management, has been a National Judge with both Equestrian Australia and Showhorse Council Australasia. She has been a National Showhorse Team Member from 1996, a Victorian Interschools Coach and holds a Cert 4 Workplace Trainer and Accessor certificate.