Frequently Asked Questions

Training

Do you only work with PRE horses?
While we do specialize in the sales of PRE horses, we do not limit our colt starting and training services to a particular breed. Our techniques are adaptable to any breed and age of horse.
How old does my horse need to be before it can be started under saddle?

In recent years, this has become quite the controversial subject. Many people believe that horses should not be sat on until they are 5 or 6 due to the lack of physical maturity of the horse’s body. While in theory this makes sense, it is not always practical to wait until a horse is over the age of 5 before they are ridden. Most horses can be safely ridden after the age of 3 with a few caveats:

  1. Training sessions under saddle limited to 20-30 minutes
  2. Rider’s weight is less than 10-15% of the horse’s weight
  3. A correctly fitted saddle and a well-balanced rider
  4. A strong focus on gymnasticizing the horse in order to develop the proper muscles necessary to support the weight of the rider

We never ride horses before they are 3 years old regardless of breed, type, or size, and all young horses are started slowly and methodically to ensure that they are not being pushed beyond what their bodies are physically capable of handling. In short – there is no “one size fits all” answer to this question, and we carefully assess each young horse to determine when it makes the most sense to begin the process of backing.

How long does it take for you to break a horse?

Again, there is no “one size fits all” answer to this question. It varies depending on each individual horse. Age, physical maturity, mental maturity, and character are all huge factors in how slow or how quickly a horse can be backed. We follow a methodical approach to starting young horses, with the following steps:

  1. Groundwork – basic leading and tying; yielding hindquarters and forequarters; learning to respect the handler’s space
  2. Lunging – learning the basics of following the circle without cutting in, pulling, or changing direction; learning voice commands; wearing a lunging surcingle
  3. Desensitization – Desensitization to tarps, blankets, plastic, water, etc.
  4. Bridling and Saddling – Learning to accept the bridle and saddle without stress
  5. Ground Driving & Long lining – Learning the basic theory of steering through ground driving; long lining on the circle to encourage correct use of body
  6. Accepting the rider – Learning to stand while mounted, accepting the rider’s weight, walk/trot/canter on the line
  7. Backing – Walk/trot/canter off the line; steering;”go” and “stop”; basic leg aids

Some horses are able to go from lunging to backing in a week or two; others need a lot more time. We never rush the horse, as learning to happily accept the rider in a low-stress environment is of utmost importance. At the end of the day, it isn’t how quickly one can back a horse – it is the quality of the steps that matter.

Why should I choose Outlander Equestrian over other dressage trainers?

This is a great question, and of course there are hundreds if not thousands of trainers in the Netherlands – many with very high profiles and impressive resumes, and a long list of eager devotees. While having a high-profile trainer work with your horse is exciting, it isn’t necessarily what is appropriate or even possible for many riders and their horses. We like to think that we are offering a service which sets us apart from your average dressage trainer, an approach that is down-to-earth, simple, and a little out of the box.

Outlander Equestrian is a team made up of two women from very different backgrounds with very distinct areas of expertise. We work together as a team during each training session with each horse. While one trainer is riding or working with your horse on the ground, the other is watching, videoing, and/or giving real-time feedback. This, in addition to both pre- and post-session planning discussions, allows us to fluidly adapt and change our approach as necessary. We also find real value in getting each horse outside of the walls of the arena as much as possible. Constantly drilling dressage movements in the arena can be mentally and physically exhausting for the horse. Breaking up traditional training sessions with hacks in the forest or on the beach is large and important part of our basic training approach.

We also are a fully transparent training service – the client is welcome to attend every training session and video and/or photograph as they wish. We don’t hide behind closed doors so that we can use harsh techniques to train your horse. We are upfront and honest about where each horse is during a given phase of training, and work to ensure that the client understands the reasoning behind each step that we are taking.

Finally, we work to train the client while we are training their horse. The training does not end with Outlander Equestrian; our goal is to teach the client the methods we are using with their horse so that they can continue the training long after the session has ended. Our goal is to develop the horse into a partner that the client can have the confidence and the tools necessary to handle and ride on their own.

Sales

Why are your PRE's priced higher than other PRE's I have seen in the Netherlands?

Yes, our prices can be slightly higher than your “average” PRE that is located in Holland. There are several reasons for this, but the most basic answer to this question is “you get what you pay for”.

We specialize in sport-type PRE’s, which are, in actuality, quite difficult to find. Not only do they need to have the correct movement for competitive dressage, they also need to have exceptional conformation, character, and breeding. In addition, they must be healthy and sound, as well as being certified piroplasmosis free for exportation. This makes for quite the difficult search!

Our horses are also started correctly, with a solid foundation. We invest a significant amount of time working with each horse first in groundwork, then slowly introduce them to the bridle, saddle, and then the rider. For each young horse, we limit our arena training sessions to 20-30 minutes alternating with hacks in the forest or on the beach. We do not skip steps, we do not use “gimmicks” or harsh training methods in order to rush the horse to sale.

Our audience is the discerning equestrian who is looking for a unique PRE that has the qualities that will allow for a successful future – whether it be in competition, hacking out, or in the breeding shed.