How much ‘training’ do the yearlings undergo (in handling, etc.) and what is the next step in their development (ie, when they are introduced to bridle/saddle, and eventually ridden, gate training). Do they ‘graduate’ to another location/farm where they are taught these things?
A:“Training” begins at the time the horses are weaned at Lanes End and continues until they leave the farm. Horses are taught to lead, walk and stand while traveling to and from the barn as weanlings and into their yearling year. This is a very important stage in development where they build a cohesive bond with humans. In their latter weanling months/short yearling they are more formally introduced to plastic bit and grooming tools such as brushes, mane combs and hoof picks. Bits are connected to their halters while they are being groomed in their stalls for a smooth transition for when we start prep.
Usually sometime shortly after the derby, the yearlings are broke to a surcingle with side reins (tack) and prep begins. At Lane’s End we prep yearlings to be racehorses. The yearlings start staying up in the barns all day instead of going out in the afternoon to protect their coats from sunburn. We hand walk the yearlings in a 40 acre field as a training tool as well as trot them in a covered round pen for fitness. Both of these are important part of the prep process. We use the surcingle and side reins for both walking in the fields and trotting in the round pens to ensure proper movement.
More aggressive grooming methods are used during prep where they are introduced to a curry comb for shedding, rub rags to bring out the natural oils in there coats and a hose/bath. We do not ride the yearlings during this process—yearlings are broke to riders after they leave the farm in the fall. Most of the yearlings at the farm are sent to either Florida or South Carolina in September/October and the training process starts over with the next crop of weanlings.
Expert: Cooper Sawyer
Does your farm try to keep the same “social companions” throughout their years as part of the broodmare bands, or does this change often?
A:When broodmares have become good friends we do try and keep them together as long as their status allows us to. A happy mare is typically a healthy mare. However if a mare is given a year off from foaling and her friends are in foal then she will have to join a group of non pregnant or “barren” mares for the health of the herd, as her routine and feeding will differ from that of the pregnant mares.
When mares move away from their friends they adjust quite quickly to a new group and within a day or two have usually bonded with the new group. They are a social animal and need the company of the others in the herd.
Expert: Donna Vowles
Assistant Broodmare Manager, Lane’s End
Originally from Birmingham, England, Donna joined the Lane’s End team in 2004. As Assistant Broodmare Manager, she devotes her time to ensuring the health and happiness of all the broodmares and their foals.
Yearling Manager, Lane’s End
Cooper was born in Lexington, KY and graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in Agriculture. He started working with horses in 1997 in the training barn of Al Stall Jr. Before coming to Lane’s End as the Yearling Manager in 2010, I worked at Wimbledon and Mill Ridge Farm.