Tuesday was another milestone in the training of our young Ready to Run horses. Tarryn Liebenberg and her team of riders introduced the young horses to their first canter under saddle – an important (and very testing) step in the career of a racehorse. Without exception, the horses behaved like angels and not one rider fell off at this critical stage - quite an achievement, according to Tarryn! Summerhill puts great store in the mentoring and training of their staff, and the riders are no exception.
I have great admiration for these riders who have to be tactful and sympathetic as young horses are inclined to be unpredictable at this stage in their development. Summerhill sets great store by handling horses correctly and always introduces them to this next level of training with a combination of patience and skill.
For my part, I was invited to watch close on a hundred horses ridden by fourteen of Summerhill’s very competent work-riders. It’s an impressive sight to see fourteen beautiful thoroughbreds trotting down the track, coats shining and ears pricked in the early morning mist. Then the excitement of the first canter, alert and purposeful with riders coaxing them gently into a steady rhythmic pace, nostrils snorting and tails flying, they made a magnificent sight.
Some of the horses already show a good length of stride, although most were just taken steadily down the track to accustom them to the feeling of speed with a rider on their backs. This slow canter work will continue over the next few months and when the horses develop in confidence and ability, we can expect to start seeing the more talented horses emerge. By the time the horses are ready for the sale they will be accomplished at routine exercise and will have been asked for just two good pieces of work and set to go on to the next stage of racehorse training.
Of course having a dressage background myself, this was something very different from my usual hobby of judging at dressage competitions, where everything is about control and precision. I’m lucky enough to work at the top thoroughbred racehorse stud in the country - it’s a very stimulating place to be. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, to compare with the sound of hooves thundering down the track, it brings a whole new dimension to my passion for horses.
Posted by Marlene Breed