Aug 03, 2020

USEA Podcast #263: Producing a Young Horse

Joining USEA Official Podcast host Nicole Brown this week is five-star rider Lauren Nicholson (née Kieffer) and legendary groom and USEA President Max Corcoran for an episode all about producing young horses and how to can give them the best possible start to their career.

Nicholson came to work for David and Karen O’Connor when she was 17 years old and has spent the last 15 years bringing hundreds of horses along in their barn and for Jacqueline Mars’ program which breeds and produces horses from the ground up. Corcoran also spent over a decade on the O'Connor Eventing Team grooming and working with the young horses, so as Nicholson said to start off the podcast, “Most of my education for young horses came from working for David and Karen O’Connor and Max, so this should be a good episode.”

Questions covered in the podcast include:

  • What do you look for in a young horse? Breeding, temperament, conformation, etc.
  • How do you start their education?
  • What are your favorite exercises for teaching balance in a young horse?
  • How do you introduce jumping?
  • When do you give your young horse breaks?
  • What are your classic signs of a horse going through a growth spurt?
  • What can you do at home to make sure your horse is ready for his first event?

Nicholson and Corcoran are a wealth of knowledge and discuss everything from why they start horses in a rope halter to the importance of good feet to using ponying as an emergency brake to exercises for starting jumping and more.

They end with each sharing their top three tips for laying good foundations with your young horses, but these are just a teaser for an episode you don’t want to miss!

Nicholson’s top three tips:

  1. Treat them like horses in the beginning
  2. No timeline for a young horse –some horses are ready for YEH Championships and some horses can’t trot a crossrail.
  3. Get them out a lot without an agenda.

Corcoran’s top three tips:

  1. If you aren’t comfortable doing this yourself find someone to help you.
  2. Be very patient
  3. If you have a horse that isn’t going to work out, it is okay to be honest with yourself.

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