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Riding race horses in their stalls

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  • Riding race horses in their stalls

    Why are racehorses backed in their stalls?
    Last edited by Auventera Two; Oct. 27, 2006, 12:50 PM.

  • #2
    Yep, we did/do it. The main precaution is that the stall is high enough, and we remove buckets, etc. The horses have been sacked, backed, etc. The stalls I've used are at least 12 by 12. We don't have an arena We do have a roundpen, but when you have a few horses and riders, there's no time to start everyone in it. That said, the last horse I started in the stall was a loner at a facility with a shedrow and roundpen. We did it in the stall because that's where we always do it I had one rear on me, which was a little scary, but I've never been thrown or hurt in a stall. The yearlings are pretty well started before we get on.
    "If you can't feed 'em, don't breed 'em."


    • #3
      I personally find breaking or backing horses in stalls to be WAY more of a hazard to ones health than using a round-pen.
      I have been forced to break babies a number of ways and by far the most preferable was a few days in round-pen (solid walls and w/ steep banking) then out to the track in pods. Ee-ha. My own daughter, who is getting on 15 +/- babies a day is reminding me why this is for young people only I think (the less I know the better) they still do some work in stalls, which bothers me.

      Go to Fjordjockey's photo album for updates....yeash. She has a black eye, cantalope sized knee and a smile in latest shots.
      "There's a fine line between genius and madness. I've removed that line." -Super Genius/me


      • #4
        My ex-neighbor is a racehorse trainer and he always gets on them in the stalls to start them.
        *Phenix* 1990 Trakehner Mare
        *Vanderbilt* 2001 OTTB Gelding


        • #5
          "(1)Why? (2)What safety precautions are taken to avoid injury to rider? (3)Do you feel this is a perfectly safe practice that poses no more danger to the rider than mounting a horse in an arena? (3)What size are these stalls?"

          1. Because it's a confinsed area in which the yearling feels safe.

          2. Someone at the head, buckets removed. Obviously the yearling has been saddled, leaned on, etc. in preparation; this is not a rodeo ideally.

          3. Yes. Well, it's as "perfectly safe" as anything else you do around a horse if it's done properly.

          4. Normal size, 12x12 or so.

          I hope that one day you have the opportunity to tour a true Thoroughbred facility. Mixing yearlings in with racing and breeding stock as you described on the other thread is not SOP for most facilities. The yearlings have their own section of the farm (or their own farm!) and a manager just for them.


          • #6
            We start backing them in the stalls, but generally it is just a matter of sitting on them the first few times, and maybe leading them once or twice around, before going on to walk up and down the aisle.

            We don't have a round pen (and neither do most farms around us) but we do have a small paddock--that is the step after the aisle. Then they go out to the track after they are walk/ trot/ cantering in the paddock.

            Starting them in the stalls makes them less inclined to panic and take off/ buck, and it keeps them more focused. I think it expedites things--most TBs are broken as yearlings, and don't have time for the more extensive groundwork sporthorse babies get. They also are more respectful (and often better disciplined), at least in my experience.

            Our stalls are on the biggish side, maybe 14x16? It's not ideal, but with horses, what is?


            • #7
              Not a race horse, but that is how I first backed Music. A nice, familiar, confined space.

              chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


              • #8
                I agree with the race horse people, that to sit on a young horse for the first time, it is best to do it in a stall. The horse is much quieter in the stall and is not as apt to freak out as much versus being out in a more open space.


                • #9
                  First of all, you have to consider that most(certainly not all) baby trainers want the babies broke quickly, in the least amount of time possible. This doesn't allow for lunging in a round pen, or line driving, or anything else even remotely time consuming. Generally, this type of breaking involves turning the each rider loose with a horse in a standard 12X12 stall, and letting him or her go at it. This allows for breaking six or more horses at a time, depending on how many riders are available. By the end of the morning, every baby in the barn will have had a rider up and turned in the stall.

                  The first day, the rider will usually sack the horse out, put on the bridle and the saddle, and hold the girth tight with one hand, not actually fastening it yet. Then he turns the horse in the stall, with a rope shank attached to the bit or to the halter. By not fastening the girth, if the horse comes unglued, the saddle can be removed quickly, instaed of sliding under the belly, as it might if just loosely fastened. Once the horse accepts the girth, then it is tightened by degrees, turning the horse both ways at every step. Then the rider will jump up and "belly" the horse, until he accepts the weight, then he will get astride and sit. Next comes turning with a rider. Some trainers will have a groom turn the horse on a shank with the rider up at first, some let the rider do it themselves, using the reins, their stick and their heels. Most riders I know would rather tough it out themselves rather than risk their neck to a groom who might flip the horse if it acts up. This often all happens on the very first day, with two or three more days of turning in the stall, and then straight out to the shedrow and/or paddock. If a horse is particularly bad or nervous, the rider may take longer, but the average horse gets that far in a single session at most training centers.
                  The idea of having the horse in a stall for all of this is that not only is a horse usually more comfortable in his own stall, instead of out in the open in a strange place, but a round pen gives them way too much room to get away from you, and it gives them way more room to buck. Trying to do all that in an open round pen all at once would be far more dangerous than in a stall, as long as the rider knows what he's doing. I personally cannot imagine climbing on a brand new baby the first day in an open round pen. Give me a nice enclosed stall any day of the week. We used to break around 130 babies every season, and in 7 years I only remember two riders getting hurt. One was when the groom did manage to flip the baby over on top of him by yanking down on the shank while he was up, and the other was a rider who refused to put a shank on the horse at all, and it got away from him when he put the saddle on the first time, breaking hs finger.
                  It's all what you're used to. You just have to be able to adapt to the situation.
                  ~ Stephanie

                  If ignorance is bliss, why aren\'t a lot more people happy?


                  • #10
                    ...I'm warnin' you guys...run away!!!!!!

                    *Save The Prairie Dog*
                    \"Jean Louise, stand up. Your father\'s passing.\"


                    • #11
                      We did not lounge in the roundpen in the same sense others might....except to wear their butts out before putting on saddle & cinching. More wearing out on next day before re-saddling, backing and putting up rider for a round & round session. Repeat on third day & by fourth we were jogging on track.
                      In Italy we had to break babies on the public tracks, adding to the thrill.
                      I find having a horse flip in a stall to be a wee too confining. Given the option of a roomy banked roundpen over a 12X12 you'd catch my drift.
                      PS. Our girths go up quick and tight enough NOT to slip as a thrashing or upset baby is not something easily tackled to take off a loose saddle.....some use a surcingle to avoid that upset, but we lacked the time needing to get around 10 done at a time to complete a set.
                      Edited to add: A solid round-pen is not considered "open space" to a horse. They tend to be pretty focused there, and many of our yearlings abroad came from farms where they recieved little if no previous handling. A few were even focused enough to know which of the two humans alone with them was to die first...
                      RaceTB, I'm w/ you...too old for that yit!
                      "There's a fine line between genius and madness. I've removed that line." -Super Genius/me


                      • #12
                        I know I was spoiled,..having Rokeby and its wonderful horsemen as my milieu in the early days...but I've found all race barn's yearling operations to be excellent, and their methods professional and humane. Which is where I take umbrage at Two Simple's uneducated criticisms in another forum: "Mounting a horse in a stall is one of the cardinal sins of horsemanship. It is extreeeeeemly dangerous. I am so glad everything worked out well, but you might not have been so lucky. Especially considering this horse was WILD."
                        "Having toured a TB racing barn, I can say that their stalls were the standard size, maybe 10x12 with normal height ceilings. There were no accomodations to allow for "riding" in a stall.

                        So if you want to get on a crazy, unbroken horse in it's stall, then that's your perogative. But my life is a little too precious for me to take stupid chances like that."

                        ...and MY reply [and many others]
                        Well, I'll tell generations of excellent trainers, patient, hard working ground people, and dedicated exercise jocks that you toured a racing stable.. and that the yearling industry is filled with unsafe idiots.
                        Leroy, if you're still out there, God bless..I'd throw a leg over anything with a horseman like you on the ground.
                        There's more..but I'll let it go at that
                        Hey SeaOat! How's it hangin'??

                        *Save The Prairie Dog*
                        \"Jean Louise, stand up. Your father\'s passing.\"


                        • #13
                          ...arrrgh, Sorry, I'm on a roll tonight
                          ..and 2Simple, You didn't stick around in H/J long enough to hear one of the finest HUNTER owner/riders explain this is the way MOST professional barns of ANY discipline break babies.

                          *Save The Prairie Dog*
                          \"Jean Louise, stand up. Your father\'s passing.\"


                          • #14
                            She wasn't the only one. Left to early from that party.

                            Its not crazy nor is it idiotic when done by people who know what they are doing. And that is the key. 2Simple you stated your BO tried to blanket a horse. And got hurt. How do you know she didn't scare the horse, catch it off guard or did some other thing which startled this horse and sent it into a tale spin. There are reasons horses do what they do. Most are linked to people in a hurry, not having the knowledge or just plain being stupid. We didn't have near as many accidents in our youth as there are now, but thats a whole nother thread.


                            • #15
                              <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">I hope that one day you have the opportunity to tour a true Thoroughbred facility. Mixing yearlings in with racing and breeding stock as you described on the other thread is not SOP for most facilities. The yearlings have their own section of the farm (or their own farm!) and a manager just for them. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
                              Amen. Now, off to win friends and influence people elswhere!..LMAO!!!

                              *Save The Prairie Dog*
                              \"Jean Louise, stand up. Your father\'s passing.\"


                              • #16
                                Well I have Hunter Ponies. I start them in the stall. I also tie their bits on the halter but I use yarn. I halter break them on day 3 after they are born. When they are two they learn how to do some lounging. They learn hor to tie to a ring in the stall. They get tacked up in a stall. They learn to have the bit in their mouths. I then stand on a small step and then stand above them. I then lay on their backs. I get to where I can swing a leg over and stay low on their necks. Then one day I sit up. When they are being good and I can get on and off in the stall and walk in a circle we move to a round pen. They then learn to walk, and stop. When they master that I stop for a year and start them back when they are 4. Start over in the stall then move to round pen, and walk and trot. Then move to a ring where they w-t-and canter. I also try to teach them how to ground drive while they are 3 and have the year off. I have never had a problem and most just come along.


                                • #17
                                  I live in Ocala. A: Standard stalls here are 16x16, including for yearlings. B: I do not know a farm w/o a round pen. C: Yes, youngsters are started in stalls.


                                  • #18
                                    All the stories above are the reason I send all of my babies to private facilities to be broken-as if they are going to be riding horses, not race horses. When they go into the track, they already know what is going on and the trainer and the exercise riders are quite grateful.
                                    What you allow is what will continue.


                                    • #19
                                      Well, our babies at race facilities are lovingly handled, jog through the country lanes, figure eight, go on van rides, stand quietly in the gate..swap leads and work alone or in a set..stand for the blacksmith and baths..let you trim whiskers ..and pull their manes..I don't understand what more you would want..or how this differs in a "private facility" for "riding horses". I'd like to think our trainers and jocks are quite grateful for the job WE do also.

                                      *Save The Prairie Dog*
                                      \"Jean Louise, stand up. Your father\'s passing.\"


                                      • #20
                                        Sincerely MHT, the difference is?