The Young and Future Event Horse article series is being provided through a partnership between Mythic Landing Enterprises, LLC. and the USEA.
Choosing the right young event horse can often seem like an overwhelming and daunting task. There are so many talented horses out there being advertised everyday in all shapes and sizes that it can be hard to narrow down your search and find your perfect match. Keeping an open mind is absolutely critical when horse shopping, as the perfect picture that you have in mind may not be the horse you need. There are many things to consider while you’re on your search for you next superstar, and Jenny Caras encourages you to remember and keep these in mind on your next shopping trip.
When you set-up your first appointment to see a horse or horses you are interested in, Caras really emphasizes the importance of a good first impression. “When I enter the barn, I want that horse to give me an intangible feeling. I want them to have a look to them that makes me think they could be something special. Of course, I don’t solely base my entire opinion on this, and I won’t rule them out entirely if the first impression not perfect, but it is certainly a big factor.”
When it comes to amateur and young riders, it is very important that they are shopping for horses that have good brains and temperaments. Caras explains that a good brain means that they’re trainable, willing to learn, quiet, and genuinely want to work with you. You could have the most talented horse in the world, but if they’re not willing to work with you, you’ll be banging your head against the wall. The ones that want to work with you are willing to do their job, and at the end of the day, that’s what you want and what you need.
Keep in mind that your best match is most likely a horse with a conformation suited to you as a rider. A small person riding a very big horse in most cases is going to be constantly fighting a losing battle. A young, big horse is always going to be stronger than you, so don’t set yourself up for failure right off the bat with a poor size match.
Another item on Caras’ checklist while shopping with an amateur is to evaluate the overall quality and ease of movement the horse has. A great canter can get you very far with an event horse, so that’s a big exclamation point when the horse demonstrates that nice gait. Caras reminds riders to not worry so much if the trot isn’t out of this world, as the trot is something that you can improve as your horse grows and matures. In addition, a horse that’s easy to ride to the jumps is ideal.
In Caras’ opinion, age should not be a factor to amateur riders on their search. Looking solely for a 4-year-old, or 6-year-old, keeps you fairly limited. “I’ve known many 4-year-olds that are much more well behaved than a few 6-year-olds. A nice horse is a nice horse. Find the horse is that is best suited for you, without being set on a particular age,” Caras explains.
Another idea that amateur riders may be thinking about is if they should purchase a horse that has already been taken out-and-about to a few shows and has some experience under their belt. While on paper that may seem like something you would want, Caras explains that during your training process, you’re going to train them to do what you want them to do. Being the rider that’s trained your horse from the ground up, with professional supervision and knowing every experience your horse has been through is an amazing experience.
Caras continues, “90% of rider anxiety comes from not knowing what your horse is going to do. If you have been there every step of the way with your horse, you already know what they’re going to do out on course because you’ve schooled those questions or something similar to it. The rider having that confidence translates directly to the horse and they’re that much more ready to tackle the course heading out of the start box.”
Building on this idea, it’s always important to have a professional guiding you through the process. Caras comments that it’s really beneficial for riders to watch their trainer on their horse every once in a while to see what they can do from the ground. Weekly lessons and asking lots of questions will only produce a more successful horse and rider combination that will have fun and be safe moving up the levels together.
In closing, Caras makes sure to express to amateurs to be very picky during your search! Professionals ride whatever horse is given to them, but amateurs have the luxury of taking the time to really find the best match for them across the board. Using the pointers listed here will hopefully help you to broaden your search and open your mind to a few new ideas you hadn’t previously thought about!
About Jenny Caras
Jenny Caras is a talented up-and-coming event rider based out of True Prospect Farm in West Grove, Pennsylvania. Caras grew up riding horses and has had impressive finishes at the start of her young career at the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships in 2010 and 2013. Caras has been chosen as one of ten top young riders in the United States for the 2017 USEF Eventing 25 Training List for the five consecutive years. Caras recently launched her own business, Caras Eventing International after working and riding for Phillip Dutton for three years. She looks forward to developing her business and continuing to build a strong string of top level event horses. To learn more about Jenny and her program, please visit her website.