The yearling in-hand trail class, for me, is a class that teaches
yearlings the fundamentals of all the future disciplines we have, whether it be
the Western, English or trail. Everything we do with them in the trail pattern
is getting them ready for future events. Your horse learns to sidepass, pivot on
the haunches, turn on the forehand, go over the bridge and to back.
When I’m training a horse for in-hand trail, I have 3–4 months to do a lot of
ground work, which makes it so much easier when I crawl on the horse’s back to
get it ready for the 2-year-old events and some of the other classes. That’s one
of the biggest benefits I see with the in-hand trail class.
One example of that is A Good Sangria, with whom I won the Yearling In-Hand Trail
last year at the Fall World Show. A 16-year-old girl, Carlee McDuffie, is
breaking her and doing most of the riding on her. She told me that when she
crawled on, the filly was almost broke. When you put your leg on the filly, she
Yearlings catch onto maneuvers and cues really quickly, and you’re not on their
backs while you teach them. Then when you do crawl on their backs, it doesn’t
excite them and they already know what the cues mean. You’re 60 or 90 days ahead
of everybody else who are just crawling on their 2-year-olds—they’re more
docile, already know the basics, have been to the horse shows a little bit and
things don’t excite them as much. They take their training so much better.