Backing Yearlings – The Basics
It’s that time of year when your hopes and dreams begin. The yearlings are arriving from different studs and sales. It is a critical phase in their young lives as they encounter a new environment. There are many challenges for these youngsters but perhaps the biggest that most will face is carrying a rider for the first time. Whilst some may have been backed already, many of the new arrivals have never been sat on. It is a time when we have even more communication than usual with owners about how their horses are progressing. It’s such a crucial stage of their career and we are learning a lot about them. We see mental and physical traits that are informative throughout their careers.
Racehorse owners come from a diverse range of backgrounds and have very differing levels of knowledge about what the training process involves. We love working with all owners so that they can follow intimately the progression of their horses. Explaining the process is part of the fun. Whilst some are well versed in the art of horsemanship and understand much of the terminology used; others are getting their first glimpses of what really goes on behind the scenes and it can be daunting to be bombarded with lots of new words. This brief video shows the main stages of early training that a youngster receives in preparation before being finally ridden. It’s our plan in the coming days and weeks to add a few more detailed posts about specific stages so check back soon for more information.
Backing vs. Breaking In – Our Method
Traditionally yearlings were “broken in” but its a term we prefer to avoid. Its old fashioned and has connotations of breaking an animals spirit and that certainly isn’t the effect we are looking for, that spirit is an important factor in winning races. Its about creating harmony and a bond between the rider and horse, hence we use the term backing. We have backed stakes performers that we have trained as well as starting young horses for some of the worlds leading owners, before they are sent on to other trainers. We have developed and refined our successful method based on our broad experiences of different approaches. Claire has been backing youngsters since her childhood at Wood Farm, where from a young age she helped back generations of young racehorses. She followed this with work at Highclere, one of the countries leading stud farms. Many of these horses went on to become group winners.
Claire riding Outrage as a yearling
Daniel brings some very different perspectives having done a lot of work in the Australian outback backing ranch horses with some wily old cowboys. He also spent time in Texas with Chris Guay a former professional rodeo rider who taught natural horsemanship methods based on the principles established by the world renowned Monty Roberts and other horse whisperers. The experience of our team is vital too, Lauren Webb our head girl has done a lot of work with young horses, particularly with one of the leading breeze up consignors and pre-training yards in the country. Lauren has plenty of experience and different ways to give young horses the confidence they need to thrive. Good lightweight riders like Jenny Carter and Jess Crayton mean that horses are properly ridden from day one and given a kind introduction for the future.
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