On my first BWP Keuring Tour a few years back I had the opportunity to meet Lisa Lourie of Spy Coast Farm. I had read many stories about her and knew of all the wonderful things she was creating and supporting to help our industry both in the show ring, and the breeding ring. I was in awe of her and have to admit that I was nervous to meet her. I had nothing to be nervous about though. Lisa is one of the most generous people I know and I am so grateful to have been able to get to know her. So many young people in this sport have become what they are today thanks to her. She has afforded me so many opportunities and helped to make me a better “business horseperson.” She will kindly hold you accountable for your actions, and she is always willing to give advice when asked. Lisa is just like the rest of us, a horse lover and a breeder. Yet, she has the tools and the desire to be able to make waves in the horse world that will help all of us as a whole.
One of her “babies” that she has been instrumental in both designing and starting up is the Young Horse Show Series. In 2009, Lisa and Jean-Yves Tola put together this series that ran its first show in 2010. The YHS are designed for horses 1-5 years of age and the horses only compete against others their age. In Hand/At Liberty classes where the horse is judged on its conformation and movement are held for horses aged 1-4. There are free jumping classes open to horses 2-4 years of age, and under saddle classes for ages 3-5. Under saddle flat classes are held for 3,4 and 5 year olds, while the 4 and 5 year olds can also jump under saddle if they are ready. Furthermore, they have under saddle dressage classes for those looking to go the dressage route. The beauty of these shows is that the judges understand these are young horses who may spook or be a little nervous and they are not penalized for such things.
For years, breeders and owners in the US have lamented the fact that we do not have affordable or appropriate venues where we can promote and show our young stock for them to gain experience. Where we can take them to be evaluated by an independent outsider who will judge the horses fairly and then relay back to owners why they scored what they did. These shows are great for breeders to be able to “show off” their young stock to riders, owners, and trainers looking to purchase young horses. In addition, it makes it much more convenient for those looking to purchase young horses because there are numerous animals in one spot to choose from.
We went to our first Young Horse Show in 2012 at Spy Coast Farm in Kentucky. I really did not know what to expect and I was probably more nervous with this trailer full of youngsters than I am when I go to show in the Grand Prix Ring. I would like to think my babies are well behaved and super nice but you never know what will happen when you haul them off the farm and what others will think of them. The crew here at AliBoo Farm is very hands on with our babies and we handle them daily and we have free jumped them at home a few times. We do not like to free jump often because they are young and we want to protect their growing bodies. However, just like kids it is when you want your babies to show off that they usually act up.
Fortunately, our horses for the most part acted mature and behaved themselves at that first show. I also realized during this show that the judges are very understanding and they do not expect these fillies/colts to act like a 10 year old experienced show horses. For those worried that these might be judged “politically,” I can tell you that I do not think they are. The horses are judged fairly on what they show that day. Meaning that a yearling might be in its “ugly” growth stage and as such not score as high that specific day as it would have a month ago or vice versa.
We have gone to a few more Young Horse Shows since that first one and will be attending the finals at Spy Coast Farm in Lexington, KY on November 8-9. The finals are open to the public and it is a really fun time to go watch, learn and socialize even if you have no horses there. However, for those that want to try to qualify for the finals there is a final qualifier the day before. This is a series that AliBoo Farm will continue to support and promote as we truly believe it can truly help breeders and promote American breeding. Not to mention that as all of us breeders get together and talk/learn more about our horses and sport horses in general that we will rise to a whole other level of breeding.
Please visit their website for more information. http://www.younghorseshow.com/