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trainers to be comfortable riding and handling their horses themselves after I leave.”

Final Thoughts Finding a trustworthy and gifted trainer to start your young horse with a good foundation is hard to find, but not impossible. Besides the obvious recommendations from other young horse owners, according to Jos Sevreins, a good young horse trainer is not only able to develop the correct muscling and balance for your horse, he/she should make the horse easily rideable for another trainer to continue on afterwards. Jos also recommends that youngsters are cross-trained and

Above: Jose’s Alejos Vonesh’s eighth ride on Bon Adventure, owned by Branscomb Farm. The mare had never been ridden before Jose started with her.

Left: Jose canters Branscomb Farm’s mare Welcome BF for the first time.

Jose has come to Branscomb Farm in Northern California

for three years now starting many youngsters there. Among others, he has also started horses for Maplewood Stables in Reno, Nevada (Julie Winkel’s barn) and Kilfani Farm in California, owned by Barbara Zylbert. He is well known as the young horse starter for La Silla in Mexico for the last two years, putting the foundation training on many international caliber show jumpers. He is featured on Bernie Traurig's website and is endorsed by Mr. Traurig as a master horseman. Jose further explains his program. “I call my method ‘rational horsemanship’ because it is based on the natural principles of interaction between horses in a herd. I take advantage of a horse's natural reaction to pressure and, even more importantly, of the horse's reaction to the precise timing of the release of pressure. I teach the horse to be increasingly responsive to the rider's aids—seat, leg, and hand,” he continues. “I train through the feel I have when the horse is just giving to pressure and then reward the horse with the release. I can produce a responsive, balanced and happy young horse in a short time so that a professional or good amateur can continue with the horse in their specific discipline.” Jose insists that horse owners will be 100% satisfied and

therefore guarantees his work. “My programs typically run about two weeks long, but I absolutely guarantee my work and I will stay as long as is needed in order for the riders and

74 September/October 2012

learn to jump. “It takes two years to get the basics on correctly with good muscling, and from this training you can determine which career your six or seven year old should be specialized in, whether it’s dressage, jumping, hunters or eventing. At age seven, a Warmblood has finally matured.” The correct development and cross-training of young horses

is what drives the goals as well as the format of the Young Horse Shows. As an ambassador for the YHS, Jos stresses the advantages that this type of program offers for the one to five year-olds. “I believe that the YHS is the most productive program for the breeders. It supports and guides the training progress in young horses because of its well- rounded approach. For instance, the YHS offers the evaluation of the horse’s gaits in hand as well as at liberty so that the all- important canter can be judged. Plus there is the free jumping, as well as dressage suitability and under saddle jumping suitability classes where the rideability score plays an important part in the final outcome.” Looking to the future, Jos

hopes that the YHS, still a work in progress, will expand its reach nationwide so that every breeder/owner can compete within 200 miles (or less) in this new standardized format of showing young sport horses. According to Jos, “This could help to promote a standardization—a horse- friendly classical system where balance is developed between horse and rider—which is missing in this country. This would help the industry at large in conjunction with their breed organizations.” It’s a future plan he supports and one he believes would offer great results for horses, breeders and trainers.

Below, top to bottom: Jos speaks to a rider at the Young Horse Show held in Lexington, KY, and Jos judges at the YHS.

Photo by Katie Shoultz

Photo by The Medi Project

Photo by Silvia Alejos

Photos courtesy Patty Forest

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