Learning to Ride Any Type of Horse with Mandy Porter – Part 1

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Learning to Ride Any Type of Horse with Mandy Porter – Part 1

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Oct. 02,2020
ProEquest

Mandy Porter had a goal as a young equestrian to be able to ride all different types of horses. She balanced college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and competing at the Grand Prix level. Mandy took care of her own horse, keeping him fit in the hills around the university. She hauled the trailer herself to one or two shows a month where she met up with her trainers. 

WT Leapfrog showing off his scope and power at Thunderbird Show Park in 2018. Photos by Totem Photographics

WT Leapfrog showing off his scope and power at Thunderbird Show Park in 2018. Photos by Totem Photographics

Europe always sounded interesting, but Mandy never thought she would go over there to ride and work. It happened that she was in the right place at the right time after graduating from Cal Poly. One of her friends was offered a job with a large horse dealer, but had a business in the United States and wasn’t able to take the job. The friend suggested that Mandy interview for the job in Europe; she went and tried it for two weeks, and really liked it.

“It was the hardest job of my life, but amazing,” Mandy recalls. “I was riding all different varieties of horses, and really seized the opportunity. It was a one-year contract, but it turned into seven years in Europe before I came home.” 

She quickly accomplished her goal of being able to ride any type of horse. Those experiences have shaped the show jumping professional she’s become. Mandy’s business, ACP Enterprises, is based in San Diego where she specializes in young horses and Grand Prix show jumpers. She’s had numerous appearances on the Nations Cup teams and the FEI World Cup Jumping Finals. 

Her riding and training technique depends on the horse; each gets a unique approach. Horses may have a lot of blood, be kind of lazy, or something in between. Each horse has a tailored training plan that works with their personality and talents to bring out their best and help them reach their full potential.

The #AskMandy series on her Instagram account, @mandyporterofficial, answers questions for riders at all levels, many of them about working with young horses. We asked Mandy to share her insights on learning to ride any kind of horse, whether it’s a young horse or a rider beginning a new partnership.

WT Leapfrog and Mandy Porter winning the 5-year-old Suitability class at the Sacramento International Horse Show in 2016. Photo by Flying Horse Photography

WT Leapfrog and Mandy Porter winning the 5-year-old Suitability class at the Sacramento International Horse Show in 2016. Photo by Flying Horse Photography

Start with an Initial Evaluation

Approach each horse as an individual. Mandy starts with an assessment of the horse to figure out what the horse’s temperament and personality is. She spends time doing groundwork, leading them in hand, and getting to know their mannerisms. Watching a horse’s reaction to a normal situation around the barn helps evaluate the horse’s temperament and determine how a rider should work with that horse. 

It’s important to consider all aspects of the horse when assessing their temperament and creating a training plan. Consider whether they are curious or more withdrawn, a bit of a character or stoic. All of these attributes feed into their overall temperament and how you’ll want to tailor your training plan. 

Mandy goes slower when a horse is nervous and skittish, and tries to help them relax. She is drawn to the sensitive horses that need a little more time. “I move slowly around them so they understand my objective. I take each step of the training process one piece at a time. My goal is to build the confidence and trust of my horses,” she says. 

With Mandy Porter in the irons, WT Ca-Pow! captured his first Grand Prix victory at the Colorado Horse Park in 2019. Photos by White Fence Equine Photography

With Mandy Porter in the irons, WT Ca-Pow! captured his first Grand Prix victory at the Colorado Horse Park in 2019. Photos by White Fence Equine Photography

Build Trust with Groundwork

Spending time on the ground with horses – whether it’s hand walking, working on a longe line, hanging out, or brushing them, is a great way to gain their trust. The goal is for young horses to look to their rider for trust and guidance. This can also be done with older horses or when starting with a new horse. The time spent must be high quality. Mandy stresses that you cannot be in a rush; the horses know the difference.

“A horse that I can work with more calmly and confidently on the ground will be that much better to ride,” Mandy says. “I build a solid relationship with the horse first, and then I ride. Usually if I do the ground work they difference can be felt under saddle.”

Starting with groundwork can help a rider at any level bond with their horse and develop the level of trust needed to enter the ring and compete. The solid foundation will help your horse trust you when faced with an unknown situation and work harder to go clear. A horse that trusts its rider will also be more relaxed, and much more likely to reach it’s full potential. 

With Mandy Porter in the irons, WT Ca-Pow! captured his first Grand Prix victory at the Colorado Horse Park in 2019. Photos by White Fence Equine Photography

With Mandy Porter in the irons, WT Ca-Pow! captured his first Grand Prix victory at the Colorado Horse Park in 2019. Photos by White Fence Equine Photography

In the next article Mandy shares her advice for riding and training any type of horse under saddle!

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