Young Horse Handling at CAFRE
By Katie Thompson, Level 3 Year 2 Equine Management student, CAFRE Enniskillen Campus
The Level 3 Extended Diploma in Horse Management at CAFRE is a two year course which includes a range of modules from Business Management to more practical riding modules where students have the opportunity to learn different techniques in a number of equestrian disciplines.
Another module carried out in the second year of this course which students thoroughly enjoyed this year was the “Introduction to the Principles of Young Horse Handling, Training and Backing”. For some students this was a new experience and for others it was “topping” up their knowledge. This module begins in the second semester of second year and has a combination of both theory and practical work and it is taught on CAFRE’s own Breeding Unit where there is a range of very different young stock including Thoroughbreds and Sport Horses. These youngstock range from newborn foals to three year olds. As part of this year’s youngstock module, the Level 3 Year 2 class were assigned a three year old Connemara known as Ralph.
Level 3 Year 2 student Rebecca McParland (Craigavon) riding Ralph as part of the backing process
Four classes were timetabled for this module per week. However, the students also undertook extra work with Ralph in their spare time to allow him to gain extra learning. At the beginning of the semester the students groomed and hand walked Ralph to allow him to become used to being handled before moving on to the training and backing processes. Over the next few weeks we then progressed through fitting tack and equipment to Ralph, lungeing, long-reining and finally backing him. All students had to participate in each of these stages in order to meet required criteria and therefore pass their practical assessments. There were sessions when Ralph challenged the students and tested their knowledge but overall he proved to be a quiet and straight forward horse to handle, train and back and he is showing great potential for the future.
Level 3 Year 2 student, Emmee Matheson (Banbridge) long reining Ralph under the watchful eye of Equine Lecturer, Arlene Doris
As well as training and backing Ralph the students had to groom and hand walk yearlings and also cradle newborn foals. I believe this is a great module for preparing students for the equine industry, especially those who may want to take a route into professionally training and backing young stock as the practical element is applied and students can learn by doing.
Photos taken by Level 3 Year 2 student Aimee Donaldson