The Babies Are Growing: Terry's Trip To Ocala (Part 1)
WPT president Terry Finley was in Ocala last week to see the members of the Class of 2011.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your trip to Ocala last week to see the yearlings.
A: It’s so nice to get down there this time of year. I love watching young horses at this stage of their development. They’ve come so far in just a few short months, and will do so much developing and maturing over the next few months.
Q: How do you teach a young horse to accept the saddle, bridle and rider?
A: David McKathan (Florida) and Sam Semkin (California) break, or train our young horses. Over the summer their teams worked with each horse on the ground to make sure they were comfortable with the leading and handwalking process. They begin by slowly introducing weight on the horse’s back in the stall. Over the course of a few days, they build up to getting the saddle on. It takes a horse a few days to get used to the girth and stirrups on their sides, but most handle the process quite well.
Next, they work teach the horse to accept the bit. Once the horse is comfortable, it is time for a rider. They start by having the rider lean across the horse while in the stall to get them used to the added weight. Over a few days, the rider builds up to the point where they are sitting up on the horse and the horse is completely accepting their weight. Once the horse is comfortable with the rider in the stall, a few days are spent walking the shedrow and learning to steer and accept the aids of the rider. Then it’s on to the track.
Q: Now that the yearlings accept a rider on their back and have gone through their basic training, what’s next?
A: Each morning the yearlings head to the track and mix jogging and galloping. To mix things up, sometimes the yearlings in Ocala go for a jog around the property. They get used to being next to other horses and learn their daily routine. Early in the New Year, we will slowly introduce speedwork into their training. Right now it is about building a foundation, and giving their bodies time to grow and develop. Also as a part of the training process, these horses learn to be groomed daily, have their legs wrapped, bathing, etc.
Q: Do some horses handle the training process better than others?
A: Yes. Some horses take longer to accept the weight of the rider and the saddle. With those kind, you just need to be patient and they often come around. It takes some time for them to learn to steer and accept the aids of the rider. Some like to goof off when they are feeling good. It’s best to take it slow with these young horses. Once they get into a routine and learn what they are supposed to do, most do very well.
Q: Give us your impressions in just a few words of each of the horses you saw last week:
Well let me start with the California horses. I haven’t seen them since the sales, but word from California is that they are doing great. Jeff Bloom was out to see them last week, and both the Latent Heat and Stormy Atlantic colts have handled their early training with much professionalism. Sam Semkin has nothing but good things to say about those two. They are athletic dudes.
Latent Heat colt
Arch colt: Loved him when we bought him. Love him now. He’s going to create some buzz in Saratoga this summer.
Awesome Again colt: Has a solid frame and a great way of moving. We love that he’s by Awesome Again (ever heard of Awesome Gem?) and the fact that he’s a New York Bred.
City Zip filly: She looks precocious and very fast. New York bred races in Saratoga this summer anyone?
Dynaformer colt: Looks like a classic two turn horse. He’s a big stout dude that really catches your eye when he gallops by.
Flashy Bull filly: This is a big girl who is very light on her feet and pretty. She reminds me a lot of her stakes winning half brother Ju Jitsu Jax.
Half Ours colt: Very balanced colt here. He’s a very good feeling horse that’s gets down to business when he hits the racetrack.
Proud Citizen filly: All legs on this filly. She looks like an older horse galloping by. Another one that I can see creating a lot of buzz in Saratoga this summer.
Check back in a couple weeks as we update you on the progress of this group of young horses. Terry will be down in Florida in March to purchase new additions to the class of 2011!
Take a look at each of the yearlings on this video playlist: