Training the young horse: ‘make it fun’

  • Matt Frost believes that young horses need plenty of down time to allow the development of their body and mind, while keeping them fresh to their work helps to keep them on side

    In an ideal world every training session with a young horse would be fun. Practically, it can’t always be like that, but if you have a trainer whose ethos is to make the horse’s education a good experience, it helps.

    Caroline Horn, who has recently began training with Matt Frost, won her third consecutive elementary test with a plus-70% score at Tall Trees Arena, Cornwall in mid-June. Caroline attributes her success to the fact that the pressure is off her horse, six-year-old Narramore Musicman.

    “My lessons are so much more fun. Matt, and my other trainer Olivia Oakeley, allow the horse to grow stronger and move in his own way,” says Caroline.

    We asked Matt to tell us a more about how incorporates fun into his training methods…

    “Narramore Musicman, like a lot of young talented horses, finds the work easy, therefore it is pointless schooling him every day of the week,” explains Matt.  “I think Caroline does a lot of hacking and jumping in between.

    “All of my horses have plenty of rest time as it’s good for their body development and their mind. My horses spend a lot of time in the field; they have two days off a week at least — the younger ones more. It’s important to keep horses fresh to their work. If we overdo things we could injure them and put them off working for us.”

    What is Matt’s USP?

    I try to make my coaching fun; obviously I have gained my knowledge through others so it’s not unique. It’s the way I deliver!

    What is Matt’s pet hate?

    People blaming their horses for their own mistakes.

    What is Matt’s signature exercise?

    I do a lot of leg yielding with all my horses as it gets them supple, elastic and submissive. I start on a 20m circle gradually spiraling down to a 10m and then pushing the horse away from the inside leg back to the 20m. This is a really good exercise for horses that are spooky and lack suppleness. It also develops the pace as they become looser through their back and therefore more able to be engaged from the leg to the hand. Turn on the forehand is also a very under used exercise.

    What’s the best piece of advice Matt has ever been given?

    Make the best of what you’ve got.

    What would Matt’s pupils say is the one thing he is always shouting?

    A lot of them are unprintable (!), but “rounder’ is one of the most common printable ones

    • For H&H’s regional dressage reports featuring Caroline Horn and Narramore Musicman, see 27 June 2013 magazine

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