KINDNESS AND MIND READING A GENTLER TOUCH TO BREAKING
MASTER horseman Julien Welsh breaks in hundreds of horses each year and admits the art is not as rough and tumble as it was in the old days.
He says it's a lot more refined now with more thought going into what the horses are thinking, rather then putting the pressure on and forcing them into doing their education.
"We basically just read the horse and let them tell us when they are ready to do certain things and that’s always been my philosophy," Julien said.
"It's just making sure the horse is comfortable in what they’re doing and making sure they want to do what we want them to do.
"They have to be happy in their environment and I think that’s the main thing and you can’t do that with force. Probably more and more breakers these days are taking that approach."
Several years ago Julien travelled to California and joined 20 other horsemen and breakers from around the world.
They worked together on colts and everyone showed their different styles and techniques in breaking in the horse they were allocated.
"It really opened up my eyes to their approach to the job and it not being a matter now of just tying them up, bagging them down and putting a saddle on them and riding them," Julien said.
"It’s a matter of making sure the horses are going forward of their own accord.
"There are a lot more techniques available now and it’s just a matter of finding out which is the right one for you with the discipline you are doing whether it be cutting, camp drafting, race horses, show jumpers or anything like that."
Welsh said the basics of breaking are all the same but as a breaker starts to refine his work, it's then when he branches off to a different or individual approach of how to get the horse going.
In an industry defined by time and continually on the search for a two year-old, Welsh said breakers have to conform to the demands of the job.
''We have to have horses that are precocious and look like they are going to make two year-olds and we have to have them up and going early and we have to have them educated in as quick time as possible," Julien said.
"The initial preparation here is usually four weeks and then the horses go out for a four to six week break before another four weeks education with me."
With their breaking in process completed, their next step is often to the stables of their trainer where they will spend some time and be assessed.
The trainer will discuss with Julien whether they think the newly broken in horse will be precocious and whether it will take time. They are all individuals.
Julien said the physical and mental aspects of young horses are two different things.
He said while a lot of horses are ready physically to take the next step, mentally they aren't and vice-versa.
"Those are the things you have to work out in those initial two preparations and then you can take it from there, " Julien said.
"Some horses do mature very quickly in that next preparation and when you at first thought it wasn’t going to make a two year-old, they might come out and surprise you."
When a breaker graduates from Booralite Park they have accomplished a lot in a short time, including being transported, working on the treadmill, swimming, barrier work and track work at both Booralite Park and the Cranbourne Training Complex.