Jun 15, 2015

Introducing Your Young Event Horse to Water with Doug Payne

Doug Payne with Crown Talisman, who he developed from a young horse through the top levels of eventing. USEA photo.

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

Doug Payne is not only a successful four-star eventer, but he also has extensive experience in the Grand Prix jumper ring and has competed through Intermediare dressage. He is also a recently-appointed USEA Board member, licensed USEF judge, technical delegate and author. His accomplishments in the Future and Young Event Horse Program can be attributed to his calm and patient training approach and ability to tap into each horse’s individual talent. Many of the young horses in Doug’s training program go on to compete at the upper levels of their chosen discipline.

Doug is no stranger to bringing young horses along for a career in Eventing, so when the USEA first introduced the Future and Young Event Horse divisions he thought it would be a great way for them to begin to gain experience. He explains, “My mom, Marilyn Payne, had an influential role in the development of the FEH and YEH programs. She believed the U.S. would greatly benefit from a program similar to that found in Europe. It was exciting to have a place for our future stars to gain some much needed exposure.”

As your young event horse starts to progress in a training regime, introducing him to water is the next step in his cross-country riding education.

“If you are able to walk, trot and canter in the ring and out in the field under control, then there is no reason why introducing your horse to water shouldn’t be the next step,” Doug says. “You don’t need to be terribly far along in your training, but I do suggest bringing an older horse with you so they can give your horse a lead in the first few times. The idea of having a lead is to instill in your youngster that water is no big deal and there’s nothing to be afraid of which is very important the first couple times through.”

Every horse is going to react differently to water, and it’s not just going to be that easy for some horses. If you begin to have trouble with this new concept, Doug offers some helpful tips.

“Often times the problems that start to occur with young horses and water is apprehension from the riders. It is our job as riders to stay relaxed so it doesn’t start to become an issue for the horse. You need to be the one to show leadership so that it confirms to your horse that there is nothing to be nervous about. Again, having a lead horse is a great help and if you really start to have trouble, have a professional take your horse through so that their first times through are positive ones.”

Doug expresses that the most unique aspect of the Young Event Horse program is the exposure these young horses experience at such an early age.

“This program becomes more engaging for the owners, breeders, trainers and riders because the exposure is much stronger than just competing in a regular Novice or Training division. It’s exciting for everyone involved to develop a young horse in this program.”

Additionally, Doug believes it is a great marketing tool.

“From a sales side, this program is a great thing. If you’re looking to purchase a young horse, there’s a standard that can be measured. You can say more about the horse other than, ‘I have schooled this horse through x,y,z’ and you can present legitimate scores from judges on different aspects of your horse. It becomes easier for everyone looking to buy a young horse because there are now provisioned standards set in place.”

To learn more about Doug and his program, please visit: http://www.dpequestrian.com/

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