Breeder, trainer and horseman Ted Robinson is one of the winningest horsemen in the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA). He’s got seven NRCHA Open Snaffle Bit Futurity World Championships under his belt, and two World’s Greatest Horseman titles to his name, many thanks to the legendary stallion Nu Cash.
Nu Cash became a NRCHA million-dollar sire in 2003, but these days, it’s his offspring that Ted continues to ride and train, day after day. With an ongoing legacy to focus on, it’s no surprise that Ted knows a thing or two about raising and training young horses. We chatted with Ted last week to get his top five tips for raising happy, trainable young horses (and it’s little surprise that one of his top overall tips is to feed SUCCEED).
#1. A happy, trainable horse needs a balanced diet.
“You have to have a good feed program in place because these horses are still growing. The gut has to be quiet and in control, because we challenge these young horses when we catch them and tie them, and ask them to do things they’re not used to. We start training our Futurity horses in January of their 2-year-old year, and we show our colts in September of their 3-year-old year. We’re asking a lot of them, so you have to feed them appropriately in return.”
#2. Stick to a regular feeding routine, and make sure it includes plenty of hay.
“We feed at 6 a.m., again at 1:30 p.m., and again at 4:30 p.m., a routine that never varies. Horses are creatures of habit (and I suspect people are too!), and we think a set routine works better for everybody and helps training. During the day, we feed a lot of alfalfa, because it’s of good quality out here in California. We don’t weigh our hay before doling it out, but we feed a lot of it throughout the day — most of our horses probably eat about two of the 125-pound bales per week, per horse.”
#3. Put in the time with your horses.
“Our horses get ridden five to six days per week. Maybe I’m only riding that colt 30 minutes, or maybe it’s an hour, but he might be cross-tied in the barn waiting for me for a while, or tied in the arena with all of the other horses loping around and by him. That all contributes to the overall time you spend handling colts. When it’s that colt’s turn, we start walking, then go to trot and lope. We end with flexing exercises, always building up to something a little more interesting.”
#4. Breeding matters.
“Most everything we ride are quarter horses, but when you’ve been at this for a long time, you end up riding the same line of horses. Here, it’s the Colonel Freckles line [Nu Cash was out of Colonel Freckles and Nu Rendition], and you get to know how they work. Training gets easier because you know what to expect since you’re not jumping around from one type or breeding line to another.”
#5. Do whatever you can to ensure digestive well-being.
“Every single horse in our show barn is on SUCCEED. Those are the horses we’re hauling and moving around and really riding a lot, so they have to be on SUCCEED because I feel like it keeps them in better health. For me, anything I can do to help my horses’ bellies or help prevent digestive issues from cropping up, is worth it. What I notice when I first put a horse on SUCCEED is that their eyes seem to be brighter, or maybe happier. Some horses get a wrinkle around their eye that just makes them look grouchy; after they go on SUCCEED, I feel like they’re brighter and healthier-looking all around. When their stomachs are quieter, they’re a lot easier to be around. And anytime you’ve got a happier horse, you’ve got a horse that’s a lot easier to train.”
“And you know the other funny thing? Once they get a taste for SUCCEED, all you have to do is walk through the barn with SUCCEED in your hands and their heads pop out over the Dutch doors, looking for it. We don’t even have to put a halter on them to give them SUCCEED—just give it to them straight [from the syringe]. Because of that, when it comes to worming them, it’s almost not fair…”
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