Lessons Learned Along the Way – Part 4
As hard as this may be to believe today, when I went to my first Keeneland yearling sale with Clovelly Farm in 1973, I was surprised to see that sales prep for most of the farms consisted of bringing the yearlings in about a week before the sale, giving them baths, trimming their feet, and perhaps pulling their manes. Showing the yearlings for most farms was a scruffy guy from the farm in a filthy T-shirt dragging a yearling along behind him.
At Clovelly, Lars la Cour had us grooming each yearling one hour a day according to a specific regimen. Yearlings were hand-walked 45 minutes a day as fast as we could possibly walk. We had a show for Lars every afternoon during which he would check their coats. We would discuss their condition and their attitudes, making adjustments to feed or routine as indicated, and we and the yearlings would get lessons in showing. Lars insisted on a clean uniform. He insisted we walk at the yearling’s shoulder with a loose shank, head up, smiling, and making eye contact with the person looking at the horse. He taught us to make wide turns, to turn the horse away from us so that we did not get between the horse and the looker, and to walk in a straight line back to the looker. He taught us to square a horse and to move from side to side with the looker. All this is standard at sales now, but back then it was not. Only a few farms used these methods, and they stood out. When I started at Three Chimneys Farm in 1978, it was still not the norm, and we stood out and began to make a name for ourselves from what Lars had taught me.