New Horse in Training ~ Valentynja

Meet Valentynja....aka "Valentine". He is a 5 year old Friesian stallion owned by Karl Baer here in Connecticut. He is at the same facility that I am boarding Douwe at. He is an adorable stallion with a really nice personality. He has been raised by Karl and Anne Margaret with great care and he loves people. He has been started under saddle but he hasn't been worked this year. They started him at 3 and was able to do some walk and trot off the lunge line a few times but the training was not consistent. Valentine has had some stifle issues and they wanted to give him plenty of time to grow and mature. He will be gelded in the future but for now he is well behaved and lives in a stable with all geldings so there aren't any mares to distract him. I have started with basic lunging to get him conditioned and consistent in his gaits. He is very compact for a Friesian with a big stallion neck. His neck is very uphill but he tends to brace his back against the saddle and get a little cold-backed. He is very smart and he learns quickly. The first day I lunged him I focused on getting our body language in sync, asking him to yield out away from me and then make the circle smaller, working our way around the arena in different sized circles. This made him really pay attention to me and by the second day he was really moving nicely on the line, not falling in or out. He is respectful of the line and doesn't try to pull away from me. He needs to develop his topline and back muscles to carry the saddle/rider in a better way so he is more comfortable. Instead of sidereins I am using some neck stretchers that Anne Margaret has used on him before. They start at his poll, go through the bit on each side and then attach to the surcingle between his legs. The sidereins would make him get too curled in his neck instead of really reaching through his back and going lower in his head so he builds up the back muscles. His tendency is to be quite short in his topline and tight in his back. I am also engaging his hind legs, using half-halts with my body to teach him to stretch. Eventually he will not need the neck stretchers and will reach down on cue. Here are a few pictures from the first day Anne Margaret lunged him. She wanted to show me how he moves freely on his own.