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  1. #1
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    Default Young horse trainers in the SF Bay area?

    I have a coming three year old filly that I'm looking to have started and do some initial training with next spring/summer. Does anyone have any suggestions for me? I'm more than willing to consider most of the Northern CA region, but no further than that, preferably. A few cowboy types have been recommended to me to do the initial breaking, but I'm not sure I'm wild about that idea. She is a sensitive (not spooky) young (Hanoverian) mare that I think will blossom under a rider with feel and finesse.

    TIA



  2. #2
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    Craig Stanley. He is in Central Valley. I've seen several youngsters that he has started, and he has done a really super job.



  3. #3
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    You might email Scott & Suzanne Hassler at Hassler Dressage to ask who they know. I'm pretty sure there has been a Bay Area trainer or two over the years at the Young Horse symposia. Sorry I can't remember who, offhand.



  4. #4
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    Recently I know personally of 3 people with their horses at Chelsea Sibley's. One is a young mare who can be difficult that she worked wonders with, the other two are just being started as 3 year olds. From what I can see she does a really nice job, and the bonus is she is up in the hills (near Sonora I think?) so the horses are out in pasture all day rather than stuck in stalls.



  5. #5
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    If you mean colt starters, rather than someone who's going to charge a dressage trainer's rates to do a colt-starter's job....

    Ron Hernandez in Castro Valley
    Michele Ulrech in Livermore

    A friend of mine has her extremely well-bred WB filly/mare with Mr. Hernandez and is extremely happy with the job he has done with her young horse.



  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sandy M View Post
    If you mean colt starters, rather than someone who's going to charge a dressage trainer's rates to do a colt-starter's job....

    Ron Hernandez in Castro Valley
    Michele Ulrech in Livermore

    A friend of mine has her extremely well-bred WB filly/mare with Mr. Hernandez and is extremely happy with the job he has done with her young horse.
    Starting a horse is a very important stage in the horse's life. A stage when you have the MOST influence and effect the way the horse deals with stimulus, approaches problems, the contact the horse has with the bit and the way the horse responds to the aids. If you have a good dressage trainer do this job to begin with, you will be very grateful!



  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by cute_lil_fancy_pants_pony View Post
    Starting a horse is a very important stage in the horse's life. A stage when you have the MOST influence and effect the way the horse deals with stimulus, approaches problems, the contact the horse has with the bit and the way the horse responds to the aids. If you have a good dressage trainer do this job to begin with, you will be very grateful!

    It all depends. If you have a totally unstarted youngster (leads, ties, loads, maybe lunges, maybe ground drives), I think it is perfectly acceptable to have a professional (good) colt-starter work with it at first. The two individuals I named work with WB frequently before they go to dressage trainers. For the first few months "contact with the bit" is something that shouldn't even be asked for. My youngster was with the colt starter about 90 days at a cost of approx. $600 a month (that included the pasture board, it would have been about $50 more for a stall/paddock situation). Even for months after that, I would not ask him to "accept contact" in the true dressage sense - he was simply learning to stop, go turn, etc. Once those basics were in place, THEN I started working with a dressage trainer. I don't see paying $$$$$ more a month for a dressage trainer to do the colt starter's job.

    On the other hand, if you have the money to toss around, then more power to you. Sure, it's nice to have the same person - and a dressage person - work with the horse from step one. But I don't think it is absolutely necessary, and in some cases may be counte-productive. How many stories have we heard of mature dressage horses that don't tie, won't lead quietly, are difficult loaders, etc. and are indulged because they are talented dressage horses and the trainer or owner doesn't or can't deal with these behaviors? There are the things a good colt starter will a teach a young horse. (By no means saying that any of the named trainers in this thread would ignore bad behaviors.)



  8. #8
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    Hands down Phoenix Farm in Healdsburg. (Heather posts on this board as well.) http://phoenixsporthorses.com/
    "Reite dein Pferd vorwärts und richte es gerade.” Gustav Steinbrecht



  9. #9
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    My pony was started by Lee Webster in Penngrove (near Petaluma), and I would happily send her a young horse. She is a lovely rider and has worked with a lot of babies that have gone on to have successful careers.

    http://www.bluechipstables.com/
    If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket



  10. #10
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    Thanks everyone for all the replies and PM's. Some good suggestions have been made that I will definitely look into. I think it's really important for the young horse to be ridden out on trails, hill work, etc. if possible and definitely have access to good turnout, preferably with pasture. All this is a tall order for this area, but not impossible, I think.

    Maybe I should make this a spinoff, but does anyone else have additional thoughts on whether to start a young horse with a cowboy type or a dressage specific young horse trainer? Pros? Cons?



  11. #11
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    My horse was started by a "cowgirl" and she was very kind with him - commented that while she used her roundpen, she didn't roundpen him much because she felt it wasn't necessary. She was not a Parelli-ite but more of a follower of Dorrance, Hunt and Brannaman.

    He's come on fine, although he's now on rehab from an injury. I rode him lightly from 3.5 to 4.5, including getting him out on the trails, and showed him lightly this past year, but had to quit in July due to being laid off. Sadly, lessons and shows were the first thing I had to cut out. He did well and Intro and a few times at training, only scoring below 60% (58% with three major buck/spooks during the test) at his first show (yee-hah!!!!) and w scores up to 68% thereafter. If I can, I will show Training next year and hope that we can perhaps move up to 1st level by fall. I don't think being started by a cowgirl rather than a dressage trainer has held him back. He is, I must admit, still pretty babyish at 5.5, and I would not have wanted him pushed as he might have been if it had been a dressage trainer from day one. Not thinking of anyone in particular, just a general thought. If I had started with a dressage trainer, I would made it clear that I didn't want him pushed at a young age and I'm sure 95% of them would have been in agreement.



  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sandy M View Post
    It all depends. If you have a totally unstarted youngster (leads, ties, loads, maybe lunges, maybe ground drives), I think it is perfectly acceptable to have a professional (good) colt-starter work with it at first. The two individuals I named work with WB frequently before they go to dressage trainers. For the first few months "contact with the bit" is something that shouldn't even be asked for. My youngster was with the colt starter about 90 days at a cost of approx. $600 a month (that included the pasture board, it would have been about $50 more for a stall/paddock situation). Even for months after that, I would not ask him to "accept contact" in the true dressage sense - he was simply learning to stop, go turn, etc. Once those basics were in place, THEN I started working with a dressage trainer. I don't see paying $$$$$ more a month for a dressage trainer to do the colt starter's job.

    On the other hand, if you have the money to toss around, then more power to you. Sure, it's nice to have the same person - and a dressage person - work with the horse from step one. But I don't think it is absolutely necessary, and in some cases may be counte-productive. How many stories have we heard of mature dressage horses that don't tie, won't lead quietly, are difficult loaders, etc. and are indulged because they are talented dressage horses and the trainer or owner doesn't or can't deal with these behaviors? There are the things a good colt starter will a teach a young horse. (By no means saying that any of the named trainers in this thread would ignore bad behaviors.)
    I have started many young horses, so I feel completely confident starting any of my own horses (and finishing them, and bringing them up the levels). But here is how I work, and what I think is the most classical way of doing things. I lunge for 2 weeks in side reins (no ground driving, ever, I never got the point, long lining is an advanced exercise for a horse that is starting piaffe, passage) then get on, and get the go- walk, trot, canter (light contact for first few days). By 30 days undersaddle (so 2 weeks +30 days) they are going around walk, trot, canter ON THE BIT, ON CONTACT, and doing turn on the forehand, leg yield, shoulder in, and some flying changes here and there when the canter is good and if the horse will take to it. From my understanding, this is how the Spanish Riding School does it.
    Also, the horse will be able to tie, be clipped, lead, and load- also open gates, cross water etc...
    I used to start horses professionally but I'm not a professional anymore- college student, but was a working student and have been starting horses since I was 14 and been around difficult horses since the beginning of time.
    Just because a horse can't load, lead, tie, be clipped etc, isn't because it was trained by a dressage trainer- its because it was trained by a dressage trainer that didn't work on those things.



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by cute_lil_fancy_pants_pony View Post
    Just because a horse can't load, lead, tie, be clipped etc, isn't because it was trained by a dressage trainer- its because it was trained by a dressage trainer that didn't work on those things.
    I never said that dressage trainers don't ever train horses to do the everyday things we expect a "broke" horse to do. I merely said that we all have seen dressage horses that are indulged in bad behavior because of their talent. And frankly, I know a LOT of dressage trainers who just don't WANT to start any colts but, perhaps, their own, and will charge a premium if you bring them an unstarted horse. I have also known dressage trainers who won't work with "beginner" riders, or even more experience riders who have very green horses. One, in particular, chooses not to work with anyone who is not already doing 2nd level work. That's not ALL dressage trainers by any means, and certainly, if one has the money and wants to go with a dressage trainer from day one, that's fine. Just saying that it isn't absolutely necessary to take an unstarted horse to a dressage trainer, even if that is it's ultimate job.

    While I admire your ability with youngsters as you state it, my youngster would have been brain fried if he were asked to do that much within 50 days. He was (and is) big and gawky and was having enough trouble figuring out where his legs were, despite being quite athletic. He did accept contact, but I would not call it truly "on the bit" except for fleeting moments (I'm talking about when he was 3.5). Different horses progress at different rates. I did not feel he was ready to be pushed that much.



  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sandy M View Post
    I never said that dressage trainers don't ever train horses to do the everyday things we expect a "broke" horse to do. I merely said that we all have seen dressage horses that are indulged in bad behavior because of their talent. And frankly, I know a LOT of dressage trainers who just don't WANT to start any colts but, perhaps, their own, and will charge a premium if you bring them an unstarted horse. I have also known dressage trainers who won't work with "beginner" riders, or even more experience riders who have very green horses. One, in particular, chooses not to work with anyone who is not already doing 2nd level work. That's not ALL dressage trainers by any means, and certainly, if one has the money and wants to go with a dressage trainer from day one, that's fine. Just saying that it isn't absolutely necessary to take an unstarted horse to a dressage trainer, even if that is it's ultimate job.

    While I admire your ability with youngsters as you state it, my youngster would have been brain fried if he were asked to do that much within 50 days. He was (and is) big and gawky and was having enough trouble figuring out where his legs were, despite being quite athletic. He did accept contact, but I would not call it truly "on the bit" except for fleeting moments (I'm talking about when he was 3.5). Different horses progress at different rates. I did not feel he was ready to be pushed that much.
    I would have liked to have a go at your horse! I assure you I have never "brain fried" a horse. All I can say, is that if a horse can be on the bit in side reins, he can be on the bit with a rider, not a huge difference, unless you weigh 200+ lbs!



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by cute_lil_fancy_pants_pony View Post
    I would have liked to have a go at your horse! I assure you I have never "brain fried" a horse. All I can say, is that if a horse can be on the bit in side reins, he can be on the bit with a rider, not a huge difference, unless you weigh 200+ lbs!

    Well, that was at age 3 to 3.5, and he's certainly on the bit now, and doing training/first level work, but I haven't asked for changes at all.

    On the other hand - "like to have a go...." LOL....about 2.5 months ago, he tweaked his MCL. It was 30 days hand walking, and then six weeks walking under saddle, only 30 mins. a day. After a recent vet appointment, he's sound both straightaway and on a circle, BUT... still somewhat sensitive to flexions, which apparently is a hallmark of this type of injury, so we have another 4 to 6 weeks of walking, gradually increasing to 40 mins. Believe me, this is NOT fun. If he's in a settled mood, it's good and we don't just laze around, even at the walk. I ask him to walk on the bit periodically, to do circles and a little bit of lateral work, etc. (and I always do some ground work to assess his mood and get him paying attention), but if something sets him off.....a lively, big half-Arabian Appaloosa who's only getting 30 mins a day of walking------yeee-hah!! So far, so good, but I have had to use tranqs once in a while for the safety of both of us. I think you might want to reconsider your statement at this particular time. *G*
    Last edited by Sandy M; Dec. 17, 2009 at 03:10 PM.



  16. #16
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    Maybe it's just me, but I much prefer any horse started in the Littauer way. There's nothing better than a horse started nice and forward on a loose rein, that learns to balance itself and steer with just a seat and leg, before ever asking the horse for contact.

    I am so totally sick of seeing horses asked to be too round and "on the bit" at such a young age, before they are allowed to find their own balance and build strength! And so many wonder why these horses are sour and lame before they are 10.



  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Perfect Pony View Post
    Maybe it's just me, but I much prefer any horse started in the Littauer way. There's nothing better than a horse started nice and forward on a loose rein, that learns to balance itself and steer with just a seat and leg, before ever asking the horse for contact.

    I am so totally sick of seeing horses asked to be too round and "on the bit" at such a young age, before they are allowed to find their own balance and build strength! And so many wonder why these horses are sour and lame before they are 10.
    I'm talking about the Spanish Riding School method. Do you disagree with the way the SRS trains horses? Are these horses sour and lame before 10?



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by cute_lil_fancy_pants_pony View Post
    I'm talking about the Spanish Riding School method. Do you disagree with the way the SRS trains horses? Are these horses sour and lame before 10?
    Actually I don't know that you have any idea what you are talking about. I have never heard that the Spanish Riding school pushed horses at all, in fact I have heard the opposite, that they start horses later, and spend more time working them on the basics, than most people.



  19. #19
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    i am not sure i understand how a horse lunged for 2 weeks could of possibly built the correct muscles needed to carry a rider.

    I haven't read CToH&R in a while, but i am pretty sure the horse spent more than 2 weeks on the lunge and i know that a jockey was put on while the horse was still on the lunge - just so the horse could learn to balance under the ride..... etc etc.

    of course the more exoereince someone has the faster they can train - however, everyone is limited by how fast the horse can develop muscle wise.
    Last edited by mbm; Dec. 18, 2009 at 06:45 PM. Reason: damn "the's"



  20. #20
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    I would look in to the breeding farms. They starts many horses every year and have riders who know how to do it to a tee.

    Also check out http://www.erinpatricio.com/ her record of buck sitting is 14 bucks and she works with babies and difficult horses. She has lots of ties/friends in rodeo world, since her hubby rides western.

    I would personally prefer a 3 day eventer to start a baby rather than a sowboy or cowgirl. They are as good and as fearless as cowboys and they are more aligned with a dressage concepts.

    I would not go to the FEI trainer to start a baby - its a different skill set.
    Last edited by Dressage Art; Jan. 18, 2010 at 07:14 PM.



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