May 05, 2017

Introducing Liverpools to Your Young Event Horse with Sharon White

By Carly Easton - Mythic Landing Enterprises
Sharon White and Wundermaske jumping a liverpool at Fair Hill International. Rick Weber Photo.

The Young and Future Event Horse article series is being provided through a partnership between Mythic Landing Enterprises, LLC., and the USEA.

As your young horse begins to progress in their training, there comes a time when you will need to introduce them to liverpools as this question is seen on many show jumping courses from Training level and above. Sharon White introduces liverpools in a low-stress environment that stresses the importance of repetition for your horse to learn.

To start, White will use a rolled up tarp (you can purchase at any hardware store) between two standards so that you have wings to discourage running out. Then, she will have her horse follow a more experienced horse back and forth over the tarp at the trot on a relaxed long rein.

White advises, “When you’re working through this question for the first time, make sure it’s no big deal at all. If you don’t make it a big deal, your horse won’t make it a big deal. If you teach your horse a new concept in such a way that your horse doesn’t feel confused or panicked, your horse will more than likely respond well to the question your asking.”

Once your horse has followed the older horse over the liverpool a few times, be sure to ask them to trot over it by themselves. White thinks it is important to note that each time your horse jumps over it, to offer lots of praise and reward. As your horse shows that he understands what you’re asking, you can make a small cross-rail or vertical over the tarp and jump it the exact same way you had before.

Following a more experienced horse across the "liverpool" the first time will give your horse confidence. Cindy Strate Photo.

Seeing a liverpool in the show ring can sometimes spark nerves for riders. White advises that it’s important to go to lots of different venues with your young horse so they can see all kinds of jumps until they realize that they’re all really the same and there is no reason to be spooked. Consistent repetition is the key to success when bringing up a young horse, no matter what the discipline.

Another great tool to have in your toolbox is your voice, or more specifically the use of a cluck. When schooling at home if you’re coming to a jump that your horse isn’t sure about, give a cluck and a small “love tap” to back up the cluck. Your horse will start to associate the cluck with this tap so that when you get to a show, the cluck will be all you need to encourage your horse to keep moving forward. This allows you as the rider to keep your balance and not have to use your whip behind your leg.

“It’s a wonderfully useful tool, but be sure to not overly use your cluck. Remember that there is a specific reason for doing it. When training young horses you want to be very aware about what you’re asking and how you want them to respond. If your horse is rhythmical and straight, your horse should jump whatever is in front of them,” White describes.

Stay tuned for Part Two of this series where White will guide you through introducing trakehners to young horses.

Sharon White's dog, Butter, enjoying the liverpool. 

About Sharon White

Sharon White is an International four-star event rider with over 20 years of competitive experience. Based out of Last Frontier Farm in Summit Point, West Virginia, Sharon is known for her absolute dedication to her horses, her students and her business. Sharon has an established breeding program that has shown proven success in the future of event horses through the USEA Future and Young Event Horse program.

To learn more about Sharon and her program, please visit her website: http://lastfrontierfarm.com/

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