From Unbroken Baby to the Show Ring
When it comes to taken unbroken babies and transforming them into HOYS super stars, Loraine Tatlow is in a league of her own. In this two part feature, courtesy of Dressage Deluxe, Loraine gives us an insight into the process and how with the right raw material and some expert know-how, you too can produce a top show horse....
Obviously a lot of success hinges on purchasing the right animal, however no horse is perfect, but when looking for a top show horse you have to buy as near to as possible when it comes to conformation and looks. We normally look to buy three year olds and the most important thing I look for are the horses’ limbs. You must look for correct limb conformation and I insist on a great foreleg, nothing less than 9/10 will do.
A hind leg can get better and stronger with work but you must still buy a horse with a good hind leg, as this is the horse’s engine. All the movement should come from behind, it’s no good just buying a horse that moves beautifully in front, to be found lacking when it goes on to be a ridden horse and has to carry the weight of a rider.
The top line of a horse will alter and hopefully improve with work and feeding but you can do very little about the limbs. I like to buy a three year old horse that has done nothing, however it makes my job a little easier if they have been handled, although I prefer it if the horse is un-broken. Breaking a horse is the best way to really know a horse. You will build up a strong bond with any horse if you break it yourself, as they come to rely on you to give them the confidence to take the next big steps in their life, so I treat my horses like my children and work with a combination of affection and discipline in the same way!
By the time they are nearly rising four years old, I like to have the horses hacking round the village accompanied by an older sensible horse and also cantering on both reins in our ménage and field.
I would normally then give a little break through January until about mid February, as I think it gives their brains a break and it’s also important to remember not to get your young horse ready too soon, as the show season can seem like a long one for a baby horse.
In March, I start stepping up the schooling of my horse, concentrating on inside bend, smooth transitions and a still head carriage. There is a lot to teach a young four year old horse, so be careful to make it fun and not to break his spirit with too many lessons before you have even get to your first show!
If you have some low key events near you or access to another well equipped yard, it is good to get away from the familiarity of your own facilities and work somewhere else. By the middle of April you should be reading your schedules and starting to prepare for your first show.
Loraine Tatlow is one of the UK’s leading show rider and producers. Loraine’s family roots are firmly within the showing world and success spans multiple generations, with Loraine’s’ own success seeing her take numerous titles and prestigious winnings throughout her showing career, which started when she was just 6 years old, competing in pony classes. A regular at HOYS and with multiple winnings to her name, Loraine is an expert both on show horse production and ring craft.
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*Material supplied courtesy of the Horsemart National magazine, April 2010 – available at all good stockists nationwide,
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