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  • Writer's pictureTaylor A. Flury

Horse Showing: Back To Basics

The other day as my sister and I were packing up from the 2-week show at Lamplight (Showplace Spring Spectacular) to come home, I thought about just how lucky I am. Beyond the obvious reasons that I get to show so many nice horses, and that I have amazing parents and clients who support me, I was thinking about the fact that we are privileged to know how to pack up from a show and how to haul the horses home ourselves. It was her and I, and one of our very special clients, the Holsteads who wrapped up our show activities. These wonderful clients, not only helped us set up for the show, but also helped us to pack up; you do not find that often and I am always grateful to them for being such amazing and generous people.

The majority of our horses had gone home Friday, but we still had all of our equipment and 5 horses to get home Saturday evening. What made me think how lucky I am is that I recognized that my parents have made me self-reliable with the ability to do any job that needs doing. This truly ran through my head as my sister and I were pulling out of the show in a total traffic jam; semi’s coming at us, cars milling next to us, and trailers crowding behind us. The freedom that comes from knowing that I am capable and willing to do whatever it takes to get the job down is like no other wonderful feeling I have ever experienced! That along with the gratitude I can feel towards others who are willing to lend a hand makes me believe that I am lucky indeed.

I have run across some young adults lately that have expressed their desire to be professionals, many who are showing at the higher levels; yet, they have little knowledge as to how to actually facilitate the care of their horses. Although they may recognize a problem such as a horse with a “tummy ache” , often times they do not know how to provide the remedy and care without the presence of a veterinarian. When it comes to loading and/or hauling a horse, this is sometimes viewed as overwhelming and maybe even in some cases, beneath them.

Old school professionals were taught how to be horsemen, and they could take care of their horses if they needed to. In my opinion, these people are the lucky ones. What they have learned and subsequently passed on to those who have been willing to work, is something akin to the fountain of youth…knowledge is power and critical to success. I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by these types of people in my life who have taught me such tremendous lessons. Candice King is someone I truly admire for this exact reason, she had to make her way up the ladder and while doing so, often took care of her own horses. Now as a result of her experiences in caring for her horses, she has learned even more about working with them. Even when one is acting up, she is patient and firm while also being understanding of the horse.

If we want to develop top riders we need to acknowledge that the riding should come after they have learned all of the aspects of horsemanship from the ground up. Shouldn’t they have to learn how to calm a horse down and handle one when it is a bit fresh instead of just riding it to death? This to me is a true rider.

We had 12 horses under the age of six and 4 of them were stallions at Lamplight these past few weeks. People probably thought we were crazy until they all started to remark what nice youngsters they were. In my eyes, they all handled themselves beautifully. Yes, one of them was a bit wild in the schooling ring and bucking a bit; he is FOUR and this was only his second show. He went in the ring and was clean in each baby jumper class he went in, he did his job perfectly. To me that is all that matters. He rode great in the ring and jumped beautifully. They are babies and are allowed to be a bit nervous or excited. I don’t want to take that out of them now, I want them to love their jobs and settle into it naturally. I did not have to lunge or medicate any of them and they will only settle in more with time. Nor do I punish them when they are acting like babies, because that is only to be expected.

Of course, at the beginning of the show, it was a bit nerve wracking with so many babies and young stallions, but I could not have been more proud. The one day it had poured overnight and there really was only one good schooling ring to ride in. When I took my 4-year-old stallion Wilbur (Diamant d’Heure) up there to flat and there were a good 40 horses in there plus ponies which he has never seen before, I am not going to lie, I was terrified. I should have known I had nothing to worry about, he behaved like a perfect gentlemen, and I was so proud of him. I have spent so much time raising and working with him and the others and it is now paying off. I think that is my greatest joy in working with young horses, watching them progress and being able to start with a clean slate. I truly love my horses, I am much more a horse person, than a people person and I want to give them the opportunities to be the best they can be while still enjoying their life and job.

I think just like young horses have to learn the basics in order to be the best they can be, young riders should have to as well. At AliBoo Farm, we want to create horsemen and women. That is why when we loaded up Saturday evening, Taylor Holstead at the young age of 12, was right there loading her horse and learning the ins and outs associated with riding for it will only make her a better rider.


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