Mary King tells us how she produces her three year olds in her latest blog


It may be the ‘off’ season for event rider Mary King but she is still busy, busy, busy! We catch up with her to find out what November has brought about and learn more about how she produces her young horses…

“The horses are having a lovely holiday, with kind weather and grass that kept growing through most of November. I kept them un-rugged for as long as I could, to allow their coats to grow, but now the colder weather is coming their Bucas rugs are on! They will stay out 24/7 until they start work again in January!


"I've been thoroughly enjoying breaking in my three homebred 3 year olds, which I have done on my own. They have been incredibly easy and well behaved - and seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience! With the three year olds they get started with just simple lungeing off a headcollar – I get them used to voice commands so that they can do the basic walk, trot, halt. I start with just a polypad, a surcingle and a breast girth so that they get used to having something round their middle and over their backs, and then they have a saddle on as well as a bridle with a soft nylon type snaffle bit. Then they get lunged with the tack on – it is really important to do things slowly, bit by but and not to hurry the process. I always keep a headcollar on underneath the bridle and continue to connect the lunge line to that, but when they are confident I put loose side reins on to the bit so they get a feel for a slight contact. Once they are happy with all of this I will spend time standing beside them on a crate, jumping up and down and lying across the saddle – all of this is done with nuts in my pocket so they think the whole process is a pleasant one!”

“When it comes to getting on I keep the headcollar on underneath and a rope attached to the headcollar as they are trained to respond to pressure of this – this keeps things very clear for them. The first time I get on I allow them to walk a few steps then woah them with the rope and gradually build up to walking a circle where I have been lungeing them. Once content with this I will gradually start turning them with the reins and build up to leading them up the lane in hand and then riding them up and back – ideally you would go with another older horse but as I have been on my own I have done it this way! And that is that for the three year olds. All in all it has taken me around 4 weeks and I aim to have them confidently coming in from the field, being tacked up and ridden before they are turned away. It has been good because they already know me very well as I see them every day when I check them in the field after dropping Freddie off for his bus – that helps.” 

“I am now working with Dan, a 4 year old I bought last year, he had his first set of shoes on last week – I broke him last year and then turned him away, then he came in for a bit in the summer and then was turned away again. As four year olds they tend to be doing a bit more, including going on hacks through the woods, climbing over banks, walking over poles in the arena, doing trotting poles, working on keeping him straight and then beginning to jump over little cross bars - he is at the stage of trotting around a course of 50 cms - clever boy! I also start to introduce little fillers and barrels – at first to the edge of the jumps so they jump through them and then gradually putting them under the fence so they are jumping over them.”

“November was a month of catching up with jobs plus doing work for sponsors - and more after dinner talks and presentations! I enjoy having more time to watch Freddie, my son, play rugby and football. David and I are sneaking off for a week in the sun to Oman. I have just started producing a new book, a training manual, which I am planning to have finished in time to catch the 2014 Christmas market (am taking my Dictaphone on holiday!).”

“Emily has had a fabulous time working for Ben Maher, who has been very kind and generous with his time. She now wants to be a top event AND show jump rider!! She is now with the Eilbergs experiencing the dressage world.”