First and foremost, a successful eventing career relies on a good relationship between horse and rider. Selecting the right horse has a great deal to do with this partnership. Accomplished eventer Mary King shares her insights into how to get off to the right start.
What makes a good event horse?
Mary King believes that the first thing to look for in a future event horse is natural athleticism. This quality makes a horse lighter on his feet and promises good movement. If a horse doesn’t have perfect conformation for eventing, his athleticism will help him cope with these defects. Good walk, trot and canter paces are also important if you want to progress to advanced levels, and good flatwork will stand you in good stead in the dressage tests.
Walk, trot and canter
A horse should be active in his walk with natural overtrack. The same applies to the trot. The horse’s stride should be purposeful and should also show some roundness and elevation. A horse who naturally brings his hind leg under him will have a balanced and active canter. A Thoroughbred may not step under himself as naturally as Warmbloods do.
Galloping and jumping
Of course an eventer will need to be able to gallop well. The more naturally a horse can gallop, the better the chances are that he will cope with the physical demands of the country – especially where stamina is concerned. A natural knack for jumping is especially important for the eventing horse. The quicker a horse is in front, the easier he will find it to lift his legs off the ground and tuck over the jumps.
Temperament is an important factor to consider. Even if the horse ticks all the right boxes as far as conformation and paces are concerned, he cannot possibly succeed if he cannot cope mentally. An eventing horse needs to have a positive attitude towards his work and also needs to be able to cope with the mental demands of the training preparation as well as the competition.
The full article appears in the August issue of HQ.
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