On my first Belgian Warmblood Breeding Association Keuring Tour a few years back I had the opportunity to meet Lisa Lourie of Spy Coast Farm. I had read many stories about her and knew of all the wonderful things she was creating and supporting to help our industry both in the show ring and the breeding ring. I was in awe of her and have to admit that I was nervous to meet her.
I had nothing to be nervous about though. Lisa is one of the most generous people I know, and I am so grateful to have been able to get to know her. So many young people in this sport have become what they are today thanks to her. She has afforded me so many opportunities and helped to make me a better “business” horseperson. She will kindly hold you accountable for your actions, and she is always willing to give advice when asked. Lisa is just like the rest of us—a horse lover and a breeder. Yet, she has the tools and the desire to be able to make waves in the horse world that will help all of us as a whole.
One of her “babies” that she has been instrumental in both designing and starting up is the Young Horse Show Series. In 2009, Lisa and Jean-Yves Tola put together this series that ran its first show in 2010. The YHS series is designed for horses 1 to 5 years of age, and the horses only compete against others their age. In the in-hand and at liberty classes, horses between the ages of 1 and 4 are judged on their conformation and movement. There are free-jumping classes open to horses 2-4 years of age, and under-saddle classes for ages 3-5.
Under-saddle flat classes are held for 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds, while the 4- and 5-year-olds can also jump under saddle if they are ready. Furthermore, they have under-saddle dressage classes for those looking to go the dressage route. The beauty of these shows is that the judges understand these are young horses who may spook or be a little nervous, and they do not penalize them for such things.
For years, breeders and owners in the United States have lamented the fact that we do not have affordable or appropriate venues where we can promote and show our young stock for them to gain experience. We had no venue for our young horses to be evaluated by an independent outsider who judged the horses fairly and then relayed back to owners why they scored what they did. But now we do!
These shows are great for breeders to be able to show off their young stock to riders, owners and trainers looking to purchase young horses. In addition, it makes it much more convenient for those looking to purchase young horses because there are numerous animals in one spot to choose from.
We went to our first Young Horse Show in 2012 at Spy Coast Farm in Lexington, Ky. I really did not know what to expect, and I was probably more nervous with this trailer full of youngsters than I am when I go to show in the grand prix ring. I would like to think my babies are well behaved and super nice, but you never know what will happen when you haul them off the farm and what others will think of them.
The crew here at AliBoo Farm is very hands on with our babies, and we handle them daily. We have free-jumped them at home a few times. We do not like to free-jump often because they are young, and we want to protect their growing bodies. However, just like kids, it is when you want your babies to show off that they usually act up.
Fortunately, our horses for the most part acted mature and behaved themselves at that first show. I also realized during this show that the judges are very understanding, and they do not expect these fillies/colts to act like a 10-year-old experienced show horse. For those worried that these might be judged “politically,” I can tell you that I do not think they are. The horses are judged fairly on what they show that day. Meaning that a yearling might be in its “ugly” growth stage and as such not score as high that specific day as it would have a month ago or vice versa.
We have gone to a few more Young Horse Shows since that first one and will be attending the finals at Spy Coast Farm on Nov. 8-9. The finals are open to the public, and it is a really fun time to go watch, learn and socialize even if you have no horses there.
However, for those that want to try to qualify for the finals there is a final qualifier the day before. This is a series that AliBoo Farm will continue to support and promote as we believe it can truly help breeders and promote American breeding. Not to mention, as all of us breeders get together and talk/learn more about our horses and sport horses in general that we will rise to a whole new level of breeding.
Please visit the Young Horse Show series website for more information.
Chronicle blogger Taylor Flury rides out of her family’s AliBoo Farm in Minooka, Ill., and competes primarily in the jumpers. Flury’s top mount is the U.S.-bred Role Model (Roc USA—Darling Devil), who claimed U.S. Equestrian Federation Horse of the Year titles in 2011 and 2012 in the 5- and 6-Year-Old Jumper divisions Their story includes brain surgeries and broken shoulders along with the blue ribbons.
Want to know more about Taylor and Role Model? Read the article that appeared in the March 19, 2012 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse.