Each Trainer and RRTP President, Steuart Pittman, has his or her own "Page" of blog entries with embedded videos. Access each trainer's page by clicking on their name below.
Kerry Blackmer - Kerry has Four X The Trouble, aka Tempyst, owned by Robin Coblyn
Tiffany Catledge - Tiffany has both High Level, owned by Jim Falk, and Solidify, owned by MidAtlantic Horse Rescue
Eric Dierks - Eric has Brazilian Wedding, owned by Pat Dale
Steuart Pittman - Steuart gets to post commentaries, plus he occasionally posts about Bodiddle, the horse owned by Lorna Starkey, that didn't make it to the Trainer Challenge
Eric Dierks Equestrian
Eric chose Brazilian Wedding, a mare owned by Pat Dale of Three Plain Bays Farm in Maryland.
First off I would like to say how honored I am to be involved with the Retired Racehorse Training Project's Trainer's Challenge. The Thoroughbred is a horse I have always been very fond of for their heart, athleticism, and sense of survival. Through years of experience I have and continue to develop skills to efficiently tap into this wonderful breed's talent. Through the challenge I would like to share how simple training can be when one knows what they are looking for.
When riding or working a horse, the very base line I'm working for is always balance, for both horse and rider. Balance is never to be sacrificed for expectation. As the pair progresses through training, the balance will be challenged to a greater degree. There are many different ways a horse may compensate due to different body types and mental strength. Hence, there may be various conversations to get to the final result of balance. Training aids are never to be forced and accountability is to be encouraged independently. This basic training is necessary regardless of what discipline you ride to increase ridability, longevity, and mental happiness.
The Thoroughbred is bred for speed, endurance and longevity. A lighter build that has the ability to be quick on their feet. The Thoroughbred that comes off the track has the fitness and muscle tone to run ¾ – 1 ½ miles. The runner in this case has a different muscle tone and sense of balance than a gymnast or dancer. Our responsibility as a horse owner taking on a retired Thoroughbred is to teach the runner to retrain muscle groups for controlled power. Like other breeds, there are many different conformational qualities that may make the specific job easier or harder for the horse. The eye and body language also make a general impression of trainability.
All that being said, I chose Brazilian Wedding at the Trainer's Challenge. Every horse has a certain quality that just stands out for a first impression. For Brazilian it was her overall proportioned sleek look. When looking at her for a more detailed assessment, I liked her comfortable eye, big ears, and the fact she was on all four feet whenever standing. Though skinny after her let down after racing, she has the bone to bulk up some muscle for power. She also has a very feminine look without being dainty. After all, pretty is what pretty does.
Brazilian is nothing but business. She loaded right up in my step-up trailer and entered our barn as if she came home. Very comfortable with her surroundings, she gets along with her pasture mate and couldn't care less if she is alone. She willing moves forward from my leg and is very at ease with my weight. Mentally, she is willing to try anything and is very people-oriented as you saw at the expo.
The challenge I have ahead of me is to now train Brazilian to adjust her outline laterally and longitudinally. At the expo I rode her steadily forward with barely any contact. For the horse to strengthen balance and to produce controlled power, she must accept rein contact. The rein contact I want her to accept is a soft following feel, much like your dance partners hand. She should stretch her outline to the length of rein while the top line follows in a relaxed fashion and the horse continues to be level on their feet independent from the rider. When the horse is balanced in this fashion, she will be using all her muscle groups without any compensating. As Brazilian accepts this loosening, she will be stronger for the next step, to collect. Collection is potential power. Much like a person would lower their center of gravity shortening their outline from their head to the ground, the horse being on all fours, will lower their center of gravity shortening their outline from their tail to their nose. The more one lowers their center of gravity, the more potential power to jump, do a transition, elevate stride, or do any other task. Hence, lowering the center of gravity I like to say is synonymous with collection. Next week I will post a video of Brazilian Wedding going through the steps toward a independently balanced horse.
Thanks, Eric Dierks
The RRTP is a charitable organization under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations are tax deductible pursuant to applicable laws. Our mission is to facilitate the placement of retired Thoroughbred racehorses in second careers by educating the public about the history, distinctive characteristics, versatility of use, and appropriate care and training of the iconic American Thoroughbred.
Funding is needed to maintain and expand our internet services, conduct our Throughbreds For All events, produce educational videos, and finance our presentations at horse expos and other high visibility public events. We do not use donated funds to care for individual horses. That work is done by the farms and organizations that we serve.