Springwater Farm is located in Stockton, New Jersey, between New York City and Philadelphia. Springwater is known for its breeding and training program of Arabian and Half-Arabian horses and has consistently produces National winners in English, Western, Hunter, and Halter. Johnny and Christine Ryan manage the highly acclaimed Springwater Farms training program.
First and foremost all of the following steps will take place in a fully enclosed bull pen.
Step number one: The first thing we do is familiarize our horse with the surcingle and bit. We will use a plain smooth snaffle that is wrapped with Guardtex or latex. Initially our surcingle will not have a crupper attached. Once the horse is used to the surcingle we will introduce a leg wrap in place of a crupper. We have found that a young horse is more accepting of a soft leg wrap under their tail then a leather crupper. We can introduce the crupper later should we choose to. After the horse has gained acceptance of all the equipment we will begin using a leather side on one side at a time. Initially we will not alter the horse’s natural carriage, but will allow them to touch the bit and yield.
We will gradually shorten the side reins as the horse learns to accept and yield to the pressure. This process should not be rushed and can take weeks. Once the horse shows no resistance to this process we will begin to use the side reins on both sides of the bridle at the same time, again in a gradual process. The desired outcome is that a horse learns to respond to the bit in a favorable manner without becoming scared of the bridle.
Step number two: Our next step in the starting process is to begin long lining the horse. We will begin with a straight rein and reinforce the principles we taught in the bitting process. We will want our horse to yield to the bit and position their head in the desired position. We will teach the horse to stop, turn and back without resistance. We will also teach the horse to move forward thru the bridle. This step is very important in preparing the horse to be ridden as they will understand how to properly respond when a rider applies pressure to the bit.
Step number three: We use a western saddle to start all of our horses. Once we have a horse used to the saddle we will begin getting the horse used to a person standing and mounting on each side of the horse. We will begin with a person jumping up and down as if they were stepping into a stirrup. Then they will place a foot in a stirrup and gradually start standing in the stirrup. Once the horse is used to a person standing in a stirrup, on each side, we will pet the horse on his neck and rear end until he is relaxed.
We will they lead the horse in the round pen with a person standing in a stirrup and leaning over the horse’s back both directions of the round pen on each side of the horse. Once a horse is comfortable with this process we will sit on the horse’s back.
With the rider mounted on the horse we will then lead the horse both directions of the round pen at a walk. Once the horse is settled we will release the horse and allow the rider to have control of the horse. We will walk, trot and canter both directions the first day we turn a horse loose. There are always exceptions and most horses will tell you what they are capable of. Our hope is that the result is a horse that is responsive to the bit, relaxed with a rider and moving forward with confidence.