When do you put shoes on these yearlings?
A: Coz had his first pair of shoes put on in February. We don’t put them on initially because they don’t need them here. There’s no concrete here—it’s all dirt and grass. The trainer gets a pristine foot. There are no nail holes and they aren’t cut a certain way. Also, when they have shoes it’s much harder to let them be out in the paddock. There’s a risk that they’re pull them off.
What’s the difference between exercise riders and jockeys? Do they have different skill sets? Do exercise riders work for multiple farms?
A: To start, it’s often their size and weight. The smaller riders usually aspire to be jockeys, to be famous riders. Jockeys wouldn’t necessarily know how to break a baby. They wouldn’t know how to get them nice and quiet, to gallop and stop a lot, to stop and stand. Exercise riders are more attuned to the “kids” as they’re part of the teaching phase.
Most exercise riders work for multiple farms. A lot them will go to the tracks in New York and New Jersey to gallop, and then come down to work in Florida for the winter. Right now, we have so many horses that we have riders who just work for us. Our two main guys have been with us for almost seven years. We have them almost year round—they’ll take a month off in the summer.
Why did they send Cozmic One to start training at such and early age? Why not wait into he was a full 2 years old before sending him to training?
A: It’s a disservice to the horse, to us, and all the people around them to wait. By the time they’re three years old, they’re big and strong and set in their ways. It’s like finding someone who was raised by wolves. You don’t want to wait until they’re teenagers to teach them anything. You can break them early, and if they’re not ready, you can pick up again in the fall. Just because you break them it doesn’t mean they have to train.
The exercise helps their bones develop and strengthen. In Europe horses jog up and down asphalt and cobblestone roads because it makes them stronger. That’s another reason you don’t want to wait longer—that older horse that you waited on is going to be a softer boned horse.
Do you break all the yearlings the same way? Or is it individual based on their personalities, temperament etc?
Lake Worth, FL
A: That’s another thing that makes us different from other farms. We don’t put our horses in a program; we develop a program for the horses. You can’t lump them all together. Our horses get a leg up because the training is tailored to them.
Certain horses like certain people. If a rider doesn’t get along with a particular horse then we’ll have someone else get on him; we don’t force it. We take them to the round pens to teach them to turn, to stop, to trot; they learn figure eights and to back up. Some of them don’t like that, and if they really don’t we’ll skip it and go to the field. They jog and trot in the field and do big figure eights.
Jeanne Mayberry runs her farm in Ocala, FL with her daughters, April and Summer, and their cousin Jacki. Both Zenyatta and Cozmic One received their early training at Mayberry Farm. Jeanne’s assistant, Margarita, is pictured on the left.