Donal Hancock’s focus has been on starting as many unhandled horses as possible as the weeks tick down to his participation in EQUITANA Auckland’s The Way of The Horse challenge.
The Australian horseman says it is all part of trying to develop his own timing and feel for the prestigious trans Tasman event. “The minimal amount of handling these horses have had will make it very similar to the situations I will face in Auckland at TWOTH,” says Donal.
He’s carefully considering the gear he will use too. “I am in the process of making the decision of whether to use a bridle or halter. That’s one of the biggest things I am trying to figure out while I try different methods. If I use a bit it can be risky,” he says. “In the short amount of time it may be more beneficial for the horse’s future to ride in a halter so there are no bad memories if something is wrong.”
If he does go for a bit, it will be a snaffle and he will be bringing long reins as well to cover various mouthing exercises on the ground to cover his tracks before riding. If he goes for a halter, it will be the same exercises but using a long lead rope.
Historically, Donal has always used a bit. “I am just trying different methods on different horses in order to make a game decision.”
His go-to for a saddle is an Australian stock saddle. “I believe these saddles are great for colt starting.”
Just before he boards the plane, he will also be training with former colt starting champs to glean as many pointers as he can from them.
Donal is also focusing on his own health and fitness to ensure he too is in the best-possible condition to work with and ride the young warmblood three-year-olds.
// EQUITANA Auckland 21-24 November 2019