Issue 55
JUNE 2020
CELEBRATING BROCKS
THE WONDER MARE
JAYDEN BROWN
ON A MISSION
AUSSIE SCOOP
AT ROYAL WINDSOR

PLUS: HEATH RYAN’S EVENTER HIT LIST, EMMA BOOTH ON TOKYO 2021, TRAVEL TO TUSCANY, KERRY MACK’S EQUINE LIBRARY, DEVELOPING THE DRESSAGE HORSE WITH TONY UYTENDAAL, HOW HORSES SEE & MORE

AUSTRALIA`S BEST EQUINE MAGAZINE
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Issue 55

CONTENTS

JUNE 2020
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A few Words

FROM THE
CHAIRMAN

ROBERT MCKAY

Ryan's Rave

WHAT I LOOK FOR IN AN EVENTING HORSE

BY HEATH RYAN

Dressage

JAYDEN BROWN
ON A MISSION

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE

Para Equestrian

WHEN THE GOAL
POSTS CHANGE

BY EMMA BOOTH

Special feature

FROM SYDNEY
TO THE WORLD

BY DAWN GIBSON

EQ Journeys

DOING IT TOUGH
IN TUSCANY

BY JANET NORMAN

Eventing

BROCKS THE
WONDER MARE

BY AMANDA YOUNG

Showing

FROM RACECOURSE TO ROYAL WINDSOR

BY ADELE SEVERS

Special feature

A SOCIAL LICENCE FOR EQUESTRIAN SPORTS

BY EQ LIFE

Health

THROUGH A
HORSE’S EYES

BY KATE HERREN

Training

THE LITERATE
HORSE RIDER

BY DR KERRY MACK

Training

DEVELOPING
THE CORRECT DRESSAGE HORSE

BY TONY UYTENDAAL

Health

THE PRINCIPLES OF REHABILITATION

BY DR MAXINE BRAIN

Health

5 WINTER PROBLEMS

BY EQ LIFE

My Favourite Dish

CHICKEN WITH
TARRAGON & MUSHROOMS

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE
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Michael Jung riding La Biosthetique - Sam FBW, a Baden-Württemberger warmblood, at the 2010 WEG. © Kit Houghton / FEI
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There are plenty of good eventing prospects in Australia that can be purchased for a reasonable price when they are younger. The challenge is knowing what to look for.

“What to look for?” is deliberated on by Olympians who need to keep upgrading, so as to stay in contention for the next Olympics in four years’ time. “What to look for?” is deliberated on by professional event riders who have been very successful but are yet to perform well in a 4* or 5* three-day event. “What to look for?” is deliberated on by young superstars between 18 and 30 years of age who have done well as young riders but now need to step up in the senior classes. “What to look for?” is deliberated on by parents with a 14-year-old child who is so enthusiastic and showing super talent. Here is my hit list of considerations.

AGE
I recommend that your prospective eventer should be between 5-8 years of age. This age bracket is old enough to start work and training straight away and young enough to have the possibilities of competing in three Olympics. So, a five-year-old would have four years before the first Olympics and would be nine, four years before the second Olympics and would be 13, and four years before the third Olympics and would be 17.

HEIGHT
I recommend not smaller than 15.3hh and not bigger than 17.1hh. This range has a very clear record of competing successfully at the Olympics. A smaller horse is possible but the odds are much longer. A taller horse is also possible but again unlikely. Always try and keep the odds in your favour. Horses outside these parameters are at much longer odds.

BREED
Thoroughbreds, Thoroughbred crosses and Warmbloods are where the most likely Olympic individuals of the future will be found. Thoroughbreds these days find it difficult to win in the lower grades. This is very frustrating for all riders, except the very experienced professional. Thoroughbreds will, however, almost inevitably have courage, speed and stamina which at the 4* and 5* levels are very important qualities.

Warmbloods on the other hand really do win the lower grades and will usually have nice dressage paces, good technique over fences and usually a good temperament. Thoroughbred crosses, such as the Warmblood/Thoroughbred cross, with a bit of luck can have all of these qualities in one package and that is a potential superstar. Thoroughbreds will cross with most breeds and occasionally produce Olympic horses. Other breeds such as Connemara ponies crossed with the Thoroughbred have produced the odd great outcome.

GENETICS
Horses that are a full brother or a full sister to an Olympic horse are likely to be good horses. Today with frozen semen being so readily available, horses such as Contendro I, who was the leading sire of eventers in the world last year, or Chilli Morning, who is the only stallion to win the Badminton 5* three-day event, are available to breeders and do increase the likelihood of an Olympic eventer.

COLOUR
Funnily enough, the colour does not matter in any way.

GENDER
Stallions are in actual fact potentially good, but in reality should be avoided at all costs. Stallions are destiny bound to be caught up in freak accidents no matter how well they are behaved. A stallion is definitely long odds. You do not want a horse that has long odds. Geldings are the best from the point of view that they are the least likely to have an unpredictable accident. All horses can have a predictable accident, however, a good rider will manage their horse so that it never does have a predictable accident. Mares are perhaps slightly more brilliant and creative than geldings, however, some mares are a little more difficult to manage.

“Stallions are destiny
bound to be caught up
in freak accidents.”

PACES
Eventing is a tough sport with lots of jumping and galloping, so the walk needs to be really good otherwise you spend your life in the dressage arena jig-jogging and scoring really poorly in the dressage phase and not going to the Olympics. The walk needs a good 12 inches of over-track and the walk needs to be seriously four-beat. Eventers must not be slightly lateral or the horses will end up breaking as well as scoring poorly for the lateral walk.

The trot needs to be even and good hock action will, at the end of the day, really help with a dressage score. Most people look for a big moment of suspension and flashy front legs. This is good for the smaller grades but actually has limited value at the top end. If a horse has a natural medium trot this is great, especially in the lower grades, but again most horses will develop medium trot with time and training.

The canter should be uphill and have an elegant front on the horse. The canter needs to show natural talent right from the start. I always watch the walk, the trot and the canter from behind and am always concerned if the horses brush one leg against another or cross-fire. These faults will introduce lameness issues and also pain when the horse strikes itself. Also, when a horse is travelling I would like the tail to be carried in a quiet way. Some horses swish their tails a lot and the dressage judges again don’t like this.

CONFORMATION
Horses with an elegant front end, i.e. head, length of neck and up in the shoulders, are well suited for dressage and good dressage scores. Horses need to have good feet. Personally, I like straight legs although without doubt some Olympic horses have legs that are less than straight and sometimes have twists. Always take the pulse rate of a young horse and really it needs to be 35 beats or less per minute. The really good horses often have a pulse rate under 30 beats per minute. Also take the respiration rate. The normal rate is 8 to 12 breaths per minute. I would prefer it to be 10 breaths per minute or less. The wind is critical and I would definitely have a vet scope a young horse before I bought it.

TEMPERAMENT
Really, the big thing is the horse’s aptitude for training, trying hard and its compatibility with a partnership. None of these three critical qualities are easily assessed in the short term. I think for me the quieter a horse is the better I like it. Nevertheless, you will get some horses that are a bit hot at first glance and yet they do have talent for training and they do try hard and they do make great partners and so great competition horses.

JUMP
Most people will consider this the most important quality of a potential event horse. I think it is important to remember that the maximum height in eventing show jumping at the Olympics is 1.30m. Most horses carefully trained can jump this. What is critical in modern day eventing is not having a rail down. This revolves around good training and the horse having an inner carefulness with which is was born. When you are buying a horse, you need to try and assess just how naturally careful the horse is. An Olympic horse needs to be very, very careful and not even tap show jump rails. The problem with some of the very, very careful horses is that they are a little short on courage and will stop at jumps. Horses that are not trained well also stop at jumps. Nevertheless, when you are purchasing a horse for eventing at the top it does need to have serious courage and be very, very careful.

There are in actual fact lots of horses in Australia that have the potential to go to the Olympics, providing they receive good training. What’s more, most of these horses can be bought in their early stages for not a lot of money. If you take along a checklist similar to what I have drafted up here, you certainly can reduce the odds and improve the likelihood of buying a very, very, nice young eventer. Good luck.

Cheers,
Heath

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