Francesca and her husband Charlie Poste train point-to-pointers and run a breaking-in and pre-training yard. They have produced a number of young racehorses who have gone on to win under Rules and have trained 76 winners between the flags to date.
When it comes to training point-to-pointers, breaking in and pre-training the young horses, our philosophy is about keeping it simple.
Charlie, my husband, and I both believe that routine is important for horses, especially for the youngsters. We stick to the same daily schedule, which usually involves a trot and hack canter on the “old railway” to warm up, followed by canter work up our four-furlong sand gallop.
Mondays are our schooling days, so many of the horses will have a jump. We’re fortunate to have a jumping lane with a variety of obstacles, which are brilliant for introducing young horses to jumping and getting their feet off the ground on a regular basis.
The older horses benefit from hacking around the farm, which we rent off the Hutsby family, and we have access to plenty of land. We make sure not to over-gallop the young horses at home; they benefit more from “away days”.
After morning exercise, the horses are left alone for the afternoon to rest – they enjoy not being pestered. The young horses, especially, benefit from some time to relax. It is the time they need to absorb all the information they are learning on a daily basis.
We go back for evening stables, to feed, hay, water and check their legs, but the horses aren’t mucked out again.
My father trained pointers and I spent a lot of time round them growing up. He had an old-fashioned way of doing things and was very meticulous.
I also used to do some polo; the riding techniques are not dissimilar to racing when you’re teaching a young racehorse – getting them used to the bit, for example. I spent time in Argentina with Claire Tomlinson, who was a fantastic horsewoman and taught me a huge amount.
Backing youngsters is all about building their confidence. I would say that is our ethos and the key when it comes to teaching them everything they need to know. It also has to be a positive experience for them and we treat each horse as an individual – they will tell us when they’re ready to progress to the next stage.
We start by putting the tack on in the stable, then they will go on the horse-walker before we take them out long-reining. If all goes to plan, Charlie will lie over them, pat them and move around on them before getting on properly.
If the horse reacts well, we move on to the next stage. However, if they are unsure we will stick at that stage for a while longer – it’s about being sensible and not rushing the process.
We aim to desensitise them as much as possible. Sometimes people can be almost too quiet with youngsters because they are wary of the reaction they may get.
Charlie and I constantly bounce ideas off each other. He spent years as a journeyman National Hunt jockey, so experienced many different yards. He credits the brilliant horsewoman Geraldine Rees – the first female jockey to complete the Grand National – for teaching him about the importance of manners in horses.
Regardless of whether we have a horse in the yard costing £500 or £250k, we want them to go on to their next yard as nice, well-mannered characters.
Ref Horse & Hound; 17 September 2020
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