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Jos adds. “There is a classical system in place, and because of the volume of horses being bred and started, the young horse trainers garner respect and are readily hired.” Often there is talk about establishing a “Young Horse Training Center” here in this country for sport horses. “Until this country can agree on the basic training of sport horses and we put a system in place to train the trainers, as they have in Europe, this type of center will be hard pressed to succeed,” he remarks.


Two Successful Trainers – Two Very Different Methods There are, indeed, owners that are more than pleased with the trainers that they have hired to break and start their horses under saddle. We found two unusual trainers of young horses that both came highly recommended by numerous happy customers. While their methods and approaches are completely different, both aim for the same end result: a calm and confident young horse ready to learn more specialized skills. In Grantham, New Hampshire, Joe and Patty Forest


specialize in starting young horses at their Horton’s Farm (www. hortonsfarmnh.com). The Forests have developed their own training system that they adjust for each individual horse. Their training services are so popular, there’s always a waiting list to get in. “Our training program begins on the ground with long- lining and an unhurried approach to getting horses started under saddle,” Joe explains. When Joe was young he competed in driving four-in-hand which is the foundation for his proficient long-lining work. “We take our time starting youngsters because we have proven that it pays off—the end result being a confident horse. We also start horses over fences in the same


Joe Forest long-lines a


young horse on the flat as well as over the jumps.


manner, with horses learning to jump through a chute without a rider before we begin to jump under saddle.” Since the 1970s, the Forests have started horses for all the


sport disciplines of hunter/jumper, dressage, eventing and driving. While horses are in the lines with tack on, they learn to go forward, steer, stop, both in and outside of the ring, getting used to distractions. Movements like turn-on-the-forehand and spiral- ins are also taught. Depending on the horse’s age, canter work may begin in the lines as well. Joe and Patty gradually introduce weight in the stirrups, eventually climbing aboard. “A horse needs time to learn, and building trust by progressing in these baby steps is crucial. Each individual horse determines the pace of training,” Patty remarks. Joe mentions that he’s not sure who will take over the reins,


so to speak, when he’s ready to retire. “This is a tough business because the work is very hard,” he explains. They are so busy that he acknowledges the growing need for professional young horse trainers. His son, Robert Mendoza, who rides jumpers and who also trains with long-lines, is currently employed as a trainer at Bannockburn Farm in southern Indiana, a large Belgian Warmblood breeding facility. Another unique horse trainer who is rising in popularity is


Jose Alejos Vonesh, a native of Guatemala and a U.S. citizen, who has been traveling across the western United States helping numerous breeders start their young horses (www.josealejos. com). What’s unique about Jose is that he travels to a farm and stays approximately two weeks, working intensively with 10 to 30 horses during his stay. Jose’s program begins with roughly thirty minutes in the


round pen, progressing to work under saddle, and before long he has each horse going forward softly in a snaffle bit and his program builds from there. He stresses that every horse is an individual and he adjusts his program accordingly. “By the end of the two weeks, I have them bending correctly,


performing lateral exercises and changing leads at the canter. I also take them on short trail rides and have them going over small obstacles. All of this is accomplished through the sensitive timing and feel I first learned from my ancestors. I have further developed my techniques over the years of starting many horses,” explains Jose. He grew up working on his father’s ranch as well as his grandfather’s ranch in southern Guatemala and learned traditional horsemanship at his grandfather’s side. Both ranches used Jose to start young colts, beginning with his first colt at age ten, and he has started thousands since for virtually every discipline. “I met a wonderful person, Linda Allen, in Mexico who


encouraged me to come to the United States. Linda believes there is a need for more trainers in the U.S. focused on starting youngsters and that my horsemanship can serve to help fill that need,” he says.


Warmbloods Today 73


Photos courtesy Patty Forest


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