Author Archives: AJ Dyer - aka Visionaire

When the going gets tough, keep riding through it

naughty dressage

  Let’s face it: horses will be horses.  We can have wonderful rides at home: relaxed, rhythmic, forward, and obedient…but sometimes when we step foot in public, that’s not what happens.  It can be frustrating, for sure– we know we have a wonderful horse and we want everyone else to see him that way.  Sometimes horses sense this pressure we have to do well in front of a crowd, and things go from bad to worse. What is there to do?  Ride through it.  Embrace the notion that your horse isn’t perfect, that riding isn’t perfect, that life isn’t perfect.  Do…

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Taking care of basics with your OTTB before your first ride

Photo by CANTER KY. Used with permission.

  My recent article, “What you should know before your OTTB’s first ride off the track” spawned some great discussion from the audience.  First of all, I’m glad it was helpful to so many of you!  Taking in those comments, I thought it might be useful to back up and provide some insight on what to do before you get on: basic handling and tack choices, for instance. As far as daily handling goes, most OTTBs are just like any other horse.  Some of them are sensitive and flighty, others are quiet and dead-broke about life; it depends on the horse’s…

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What you need to know before your OTTB’s first ride off the track

TB conformation

  Each year, lots of racing thoroughbreds find their way into new homes and new careers. There are two schools of thought when a horse steps off the racetrack: turn ‘em out, or get on with riding Prior to my experience in the Thoroughbred industry, I was a member of the “turn ‘em out” crowd. I figured it would be best for the horse to “detox” and enjoy a month or more of turnout, relaxing and just being a horse. I assumed all the horse knew was running, and I wanted to put some distance (time) between that association before…

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Make your horse an easier ride with these training tips

RF Scandalous-IMG_0712

  I have a novice horse for sale, and a lovely young adult came to try him on Saturday. I got on the horse first, as customary, to put the horse through his paces and show he can perform as advertised. He was a little distracted during the first few minutes of warmup, but he eventually settled and showed a pretty good walk, trot, and canter. I hopped him over a few low fences, and then the potential buyer was ready to give him a try. I advised her that he was pretty straightforward, ride leg-to-hand, with light, small aids. She…

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Life is too short to ride the wrong horse

aj-dyer

  I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve had a lot of good horses– not “good horses” because of talent, but appropriate horses for where I was in my riding career.  I began Eventing on a 15hh foundation-bred Quarter Horse, Casey.  What Casey may have lacked in talent or dressage-winning gaits, he made up for with enthusiasm and work ethic.  He taught me that cross-country should be FUN, and jumping should always put a smile on your face.  Otherwise, why do it? The confidence I gained from him set me up well to start with a willing, trainable green horse.  Before I committed…

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Assessing whether an OTTB will make a good Eventing prospect: Shine She Will

Shine She Will

  This series examines off-track Thoroughbreds by evaluating their sport potential from pedigree and conformation. If you’d like to participate, send us your OTTB’s Jockey Club registered name and a quality conformation photo (with photographer’s permission, of course). Submissions will be published in the order that they are received. Remember, for fairness to the horse, we ask that readers please submit GOOD photos, showing the horse standing balanced with head in normal position, on a level surface, neither sprawled nor scrunched; as the photographer stands at least 10 feet away, squarely aiming the camera at the horse’s heart-girth. Cell phone pics are fine,…

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Assessing whether an OTTB will make a good Eventing prospect: Trapeez

Trapeez

  This series examines off-track Thoroughbreds by evaluating their sport potential from pedigree and conformation. If you’d like to participate, send us your OTTB’s Jockey Club registered name and a quality conformation photo (with photographer’s permission, of course). Submissions will be published in the order that they are received. Remember, for fairness to the horse, we ask that readers please submit GOOD photos, showing the horse standing balanced with head in normal position, on a level surface, neither sprawled nor scrunched; as the photographer stands at least 10 feet away, squarely aiming the camera at the horse’s heart-girth. Cell phone pics are fine,…

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Handling colts 101: Oversized teenage boys

Horse Ranch colt foal

  Working in the Thoroughbred industry in Kentucky, you learn a lot of skills that aren’t as common in the sport horse world. I handled broodmares and foals, and lots of yearlings. With those yearlings comes a four letter word: Colt. Since successful stallions make a LOT of money, baby race horse colts are not gelded until there is certainty that the horse is not a stud candidate. More of them should be gelded purely on weak pedigree alone, but it’s common belief that testicles may give more competitive spirit (or something). Until that “competitive spirit” turns into difficult to…

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Stop blaming your horse for YOUR dressage problem

dressage

  “My horse hates dressage!” I’m sure you’ve heard that line before. Maybe you even say that about your own horse. Most of us eventers, and our horses, love our sport because we get to run and jump. We treat dressage as an obligation to do in order to get to the fun stuff. I used to think the same thing. Dressage was a necessary evil. I thought my horse disliked it. My Eventing trainers even encouraged the notion, commenting that “This horse hates dressage too.” Why is it that seemingly every event horse hates dressage? Still, deep down I understood…

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Is “over-horsing” creating a problem in today’s event riders?

Good luck to everyone competing at Poplar Horse Trials this weekend!

  I’ve been lurking in various discussions on the world wide web in which participants attempt to identify and solve a host of problems in the sport of Eventing. I’m not really one to stick my neck out, I don’t like confrontation and unless I’m certain I can really add something of value, I tend to keep quiet and observe. In one particular instance, the value of coaching and quality instruction is blamed for “what is wrong” with the sport in America. While I agree that lower-standard training is a problem, I got to thinking about another part of the…

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