May 17, 2017

Introducing Trakehners to Your Young Event Horse with Sharon White

By Carly Easton - Mythic Landing Enterprises
Sharon White and Clifford M jumping a trakehner at the Fork Horse Trials. Photo.

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

Introducing trakehners can be an intimidating feat if not presented to your horse in a systematic manner. In part one of this series White discussed her process of introducing liverpools to young horses, which is a very similar question to trakehners. Once your horse is jumping over liverpools confidently, this question is the proper next step in their training.

White explains that trakehners should not be introduced until your horse can easily jump back and forth confidently over an open ditch. White likes to introduce ditches by having them follow an older more experienced horse back and forth a few times and then have them jump it themselves. Once your horse is confident jumping a variety of ditches on their own, then you can begin to introduce them to trakehners.

To start, White will create a trakehner with standards and show jumping rails so that there is a small vertical just above the ditch. White encourages riders to have their young horse follow an older back and forth a few times before asking them to do it themselves like you did before with the ditch.

Putting a rail over a ditch is a good way to introduce a trakehner. 

White explains, “A trakehner is just a rail with a good ground line. Put the time in to do lots of repetition so that both you and your horse can gain confidence together. Take the time to go schooling and jump back and forth over ditches and trakeheners 50 times if you need to so that when you get to the show, your horse knows how to answer the question.”

If you don’t have a ditch at home and don’t have the ability to continuously go schooling, White suggests buying a black tarp from your local hardware store and putting it out in your field between two stumps. Natural rails are another inexpensive resource to lay across the tarp to create your ditch, and then to raise above with standards to create your trakehner. White emphasizes that it doesn’t need to be fancy, it’s still a learning opportunity for you and your horse!

If your horse gets nervous and trakehners start to become a roadblock in your training, White has a few ideas to keep in mind, “It’s important to remember that a stop is a loss of rhythm and a lack of response to a driving aid. A run-out is a loss of straightness and a lack of response to a directional aid. Everyday as a rider you should be working to train your horse to respond better to your aids. Going forward and coming back, both between and within the gaits are your rhythm aids. Going left and going right and straightening your horse are your directional aids. You should touch on these topics every ride."

Alyssa Peterson rides one of Sharon White's homebreds, Ready or Not, over the trakehner at the 2015 Young Event Horse Championships. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo. 

The best way to teach your young horse to be brave is to repeat these questions over and over again. If your horse starts to stop, make sure they are respecting your driving aid, which should be your leg, your spur and your whip if necessary. Don’t be shy to use your voice as well so that your horse feels your own confidence coming to these questions. 

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:

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