Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Value of starting a horse at a young age

Pictured right: A Tinsel Nic weanling who will be started next November.
As the first of the year is approaching, and all the long yearlings are about to turn two on January 1st, I want to bring up the value of starting these youngsters right away. So many people want to wait until the horse is three or four or even just two and a half. I want to suggest that this is setting the horse up for failure right away. Now, this is refering to people who want their horse to have a career and specifically in the disciplines of reining and reined cow. There is a big push for these horses to be ready for the futurities at the end of their three year old year and then on to the derbies as a four, five,and six year old. Often at the cost of the young horses well being, soundness, and mental state. I disagree with pushing them at all costs, but I think there are those that can mature and develop at a steady pace where they would be ready for these events. This is the process that we suggest in our training program. Take a long yearling that is mature enough and big enough to ride, and in November put a light start on them. A lot of ground work and then just lightly riding them for a steady month. Then give them December and part of January off. At the latest, starting them by February 1st of their two year old year. Then you can slowly start them back up and they have a little bit of handle on them already. Now they are set up for a bright future, being able to somewhat take your time for the next year and half to get ready for the futurities the summer and fall of their three year old year. So what happens if a horse is started late? Every month that goes by the more urgency you feel to get them ready, the more apt you are to not give them much time off and the worst scenarior: if they have an injury they will never have enough time to recooperate. Where as a horse that has been started on time will have room to give if it needs some time off. Even just a couple of weeks to clear the brain. The older a horse gets, the more set in their ways they become and the harder it is for them to transition into a work program. If you think about it your horse competing against other horses who have had 4, 5, or even 6 months or more training than him/her it is almost unfair for your horse to have a chance. And being behind does not end there. You will then be behind the following year and those there after when your horse would be competing in the derbies. It will take a few years for your horse to catch up to these highly trained competitors. Now, I do believe there will always be a select number of outstanding horses that will surpass these odds and rise above the rest even with less training. But, I would not want to mess with these odds. Because you are always taking a risk, even when you do everthing possible the correct way. They are only animals and they are not perfect. I love these animals, and I love seeing the look in the little long yearlings eye. The look of curiousity and excitement. Wondering...what is going to happen next?


N.T. said...

Nice write up, interesting philosphy.

Do you still have that saddle I sold you? Want to sell it back sometime?

Been wanting to get back into it, and am going to try soon. Hopefully sometime late this year or early next. Have to get the new business going steady first(not sure if you heard about that or not).

Were you at the FRHA show this weekend in Jax? I am thinking about coming down to watch some of the Feb. show in Ocala.

Your Favorite Cousin;),


reiner girl said...


Yes, I did hear about your business-or I read it on your blog. How is it going? That would be awesome if you would get back into reining. I was at the show this weekend, we brought about 10 horses. Everyone did really well. So are you going to just do it on your own or seek some assistance? We will definately be there in Feb but it is in Jax. not Ocala (12-15th). There will be a show in Ocala in March though. I will be so happy to see you!

JNG said...
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reiner girl said...
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reiner girl said...


I also forgot to mention about the saddle, my mom probably still has it and would sell it back to you I am sure-I will ask her. I have a roohide now and I love how they ride, because they work well for working cattle too. So, what blood lines are you interested in?

JNG said...

Aren't those roohides more of a cutting design?

That is so true about the young ones. That is certainly one of the drawbacks, and something I need to consider. I am hoping to get a little better leg up by at least getting one that has the right bloodlines.

As far as that goes I am not real sure, but I was thinking Custome Chrome or Topsail Whiz. I have also always liked the Babcock horses (lena line). Any suggestions? I will say this. I want to do it right. I want to spend the money up front to get a nice prospect. They cost so much to maintain and train it would be silly to try to save money on the front end.

That is also why I am going to seek help finding the right horse. I was always amazed at the number of people who went out and found horses on their own, then found a trainer. Never made any sense to me.

reiner girl said...

It seems like you are speaking right to the heart of what I believe in. It is so much harder to help people when they have already tried to do things on their own. I totally agree with spending a little extra up front so that you are begining with something that has a chance to succeed. So many people just buy things for the top side or the bottom side only. Or some people just go to old fashioned. But you need the mother and the father to have done well, and then your risk of buying a yearling or a two year old is minimal. I like the Whiz and Custom Chrome and my favorite is the Chic's. We have a own daughter of Smart Chic Olena here that Brad put over $30,000 in NRHA earnings and is now starting win in the NRCHA. A youth kid is showing her now because she is out of the derbies (where the big money is). She is one of the highest earning daughters of Chic (maybe 3rd highest in NRHA last time I checked) So she has two babies on the ground now that we did embryo transfers on so that she can keep showing. One was just born on New Years day and she is a Topsail Whiz. The other is a 2008 colt by Tinsel Nic (he is a younger stallion that has not had many babies yet but he earned about $165,000). That is the one pictured in this post, the bay yearling. She has another baby coming with a recipient mare out in Texas that will be a Wimpys Little Step. He is a very popular horse right now and his first foal crop were three in 2007 and they did really well, Wimpys Little Chic won the Futurity, Derby, and NRBC back to back. So anyways, you are on the right track with the bloodlines.

Roohide saddles are also made for cutters but he has modified them to work for cow horse as well. But a lot of our students use them just for reining. You will have to ride in them and see what you think. Some people do not like them because the stirrups give you a lot of freedom and so they can't ride in them as well. So, you need to come to our place one day and ride. We actually have a really nice lesson horse too if your wife wants to get into it since she would not be able to ride the young one for a while. Love talking horses with you. I am never on my blog this much! Actually, I have just started to get into it while our website is under construction. Talk to you soon! You can come visit us anytime!

JNG said...

Wow are those two babies owned by you guys or client owned horses?

Own daughter of Smart Chic Olena is pretty cool. I remember dreaming of having a Smart Chic Olena horse back when I was riding.

Tinsel Nic was shown by Shawn Flarida right? He is a great looking horse. I am sure you are excited about that Colt's prospects. Shawn is something else. I hung out with is niece Crystal (Mike's daughter) quite a bit at the Congress a long long time ago.

So a Top Sail Whiz foal, a Whimpys Little Step on the way, and a Tinsel Nic Colt. Sounds like a great prospect line up over the next few years.

Glad I am on the right track with the bloodlines. My thoughts are like yours in that regard. The better performer and producer the mom and dad are the better your odds of getting a prospect that will perform. You can't cheat on the bloodlines. You can go with some young Studs like you mentioned if they were great performers themselves, but you can't fit square pegs in round holes trying to make a great reining horse out of a horse that isn't built to do it and doesn't have the same desire to do it that the ones that are breed for it do. It seems to me from watching videos of the events that the horses just keep getting better and better, and that is a direct result of these highly specialized breeding programs.

It is really cool getting to talk reining with you. You have sure come a long way. Way past where I ever was I am sure. I would love to come down and ride with you sometime. That would be fun. I wish I could jump and get one now, but I will have to be patient because like I said I want to do it that right way.

I will have to check those saddles out. Free moving stirrups sounds like a plus to me, but will have to see for myself.

JNG said...
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