Ep. 9: Office Hours

Q&A with Kyle & Jen Carter
Recap from 10.19.21

Victoria Clayton holding two horses

By Victoria Clayton

Jump to training topics: looky horses, active tongues, trot lengthenings, horse fitness

Jump to more about Kyle and Jen: developing horses, patience, embarrassing moments

Q: How do you correct a horse that wants to stop and look at every jump before going over it?

If only there was a magic pill for that. 

We work on overstimulating them at home with things to look at. We build our arena at home with banners along the side of rings to prepare them for a show environment. Every jump has different elements on it. 

The key is we never really get them through staring at the jump, we just get them confident that the rider has a solution. Confidence is key. If the rider lacks confidence, we suggest lunging them over jumps to be be able to move forward on their own and build their own confidence.

“What you really want them to do is to be uncomfortable with something, but have enough confidence in you that they desire to do it. – Kyle Carter”

The horse is not going to be a better horse at the end of it, but it will be a better-trained version of itself.

Recommended Ride iQ Lesson: [Jumping Skill, Yellow] [340] Spooky Horse Full Ride with Kyle Carter

Ride iQ Lesson Track Image: Spooky Horse Full Ride with Kyle Carter

Q: What do you love most about developing a horse?

Kyle: For me, it’s clear. I compete so that I can figure out what my training has done. I am not enamored with the competition, but I am enamored with the process. I love that moment, at every level, with every horse, multiple times throughout the year, when they just turn the corner and become a different horse in the right way.

“We don’t have the best barn in the world by any means, but the horses here are relaxed and want to connect with us like we want to connect with them. I want the horse to become my partner.” – Kyle Carter

Q: My young OTTB is very active with her tongue. She is 4 years old and raced. She has a very active tongue–do you have any tips? I am currently using a Micklem bridle. I have tried all different nosebands and keep them loose.

If she is getting her tongue out of the side of the mouth, the nicest and easiest solution that we have found is putting peanut butter behind their teeth because they will use their tongue to try to work out the peanut butter instead. With our horse Madison Park, we tied mints to the joints in his snaffle bithe found it soothing to play with and settle to keep his tongue more in his mouth. Michael Pollard’s solution was wrapping airheads around the bit. If you need to go the route of choosing a different bit, we suggest trying the Micklem Original bridle. We have also had good experience with the blue bomber bits with a port in the middle and the Myler bits because they have the piece in the middle that can roll around with their tongue to keep them busy.

Q: How do I teach my horse how to do a trot lengthening?

“Connection is the key to the lengthening.” – Kyle Carter

We usually start on a circle because it is easier for them to find their balance. Then, you should position them to the inside, collect them, and work them around your inside leg into the outside rein. Once they have mastered the collecting then alternate them from collecting to working trot on the circle to get the balanced response you are looking for.

Think about it like a gear box from 1-10. 4th gear being the collection and 5th gear being the working trot. Push them forward 10% each time until you can find them at a balanced lengthening.

The key is to encourage them and let them move forward with confidence and it will open a world of possibility in the forward step. One cheat step that is helpful if the horse is young is to teach them by posting bigger with your hips forward and back to help them extend.

Recommended Ride iQ Lesson: [Flatwork Warmup, Yellow] [42] Creating a Medium Trot with Michael Pollard

Ride iQ Lesson Track Image: Creating a Medium Trot with Michael Pollard

Q: Do you find that you have more or less patience now with horses compared to when you were younger? What about with people?

Kyle: SO EASY! I have WAY more patience with horses. I have more patience in my day-to-day training by far and certainly in competition.

I have way less patience with the people now. Too often people say things and don’t do it or mean it. People won’t take accountability, and they will blame the horse.

Jen: I would say that we are both more patient in day-to-day training. At the moment, we are in a good place with the people around us, we are very fortunate in that regard.

Q: How often do you need to work a horse during the winter to keep a base level of fitness?

It all is going to go back to your individual horse, what level you’re trying to maintain the fitness for, and where you can ride. There are so many variables that come into play.

“More often and shorter is going to be better than 45 mins to an hour twice a week. You want them to feel good about their work. 20 minutes, three times a week would be plenty.” – Kyle Carter

Q: What is your most embarrassing horse show moment?

Jen: It was the second to last jump at Kentucky when I was doing the old 4*, now the 5*. I went for the big one on a tired horse to the smallest jump on course and she chipped in, twisted, and hit it. I popped right off on the back side. That was back when you still get back on, and William Fox-Pitt happened to be standing right there and threw me back on my horse. I will relive that moment over and over and not in a good way.

Kyle: I have so many it is actually hard to pick one! 

I guess it was when I was in 1st at Kentucky and Kim Severson was in second and I knocked the last jump down. That was embarrassing.

Or, it was when I used to do the jumpers. I was at a big show indoors and came around a turn and my horse slipped at the liverpool and fell on her knees. I was sitting on her ears. She started to come up and I tried to swing my leg off, and I remember so clearly her head coming towards me right in my groin. It dropped me to my knees in the liverpool and it looked like I was praying. My white britches were now blue because of the blue water. I climbed up the rail because it was so painful. The crowd and all my friends were staring at me, so I started squeezing my knee because I couldn’t grab the actual area. It hurt my ego, it hurt me physically, and it was so embarrassing.

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