2012 MAHB Young Horse Handling Clinic
Report on Young Horse Handling Clinic by Dr. Rebecca Splan - Virginia Tech M.A.R.E. Center

On April 7th, six students enrolled in the immersive equine science curriculum at the Virginia Tech Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension (MARE) Center were invited to participate in the inaugural Sporthorse Handling Clinic at the Hedgeland Equestrian Center in Waterford, Virginia. The event, sponsored by the Mid-Atlantic Hanoverian Breeders’ Club, featured two of the most well-respected professionals in the country, top young horse specialist Mr. Bob Orton, and 2011 Top Handler at Dressage at Devon, Mr. Quinnten Alston.
Blending concepts in horse behavior, anatomy and biomechanics, the clinicians worked with teams of students to bring out the best in each horse’s conformation and gait, and improve communication between horse and handler. Representing Virginia Tech’s internationally-recognized herd of sporthorses were the Elite Hanoverian mare Conteah (by Contucci), and the Dutch Warmblood mare Odet II (by Jorn), who has been shown by Virginia Tech students to numerous Championship titles over the years.
"It was a great experience that taught us to think much more carefully about how we interact with our horses.”
The clinic also featured a number of lovely yearlings, two- and three-year olds owned by regional breeders, and an exceptionally informative seminar and demonstration on starting young horses under saddle.

The experience was a fantastic learning opportunity that allowed the MARE Center students to gain practical experience while networking with top trainers and breeders from the Mid-Atlantic region.  Eleanor Gould, an APSC senior from Baltimore, MD, reflected, "It was a great experience that taught us to think much more carefully about how we interact with our horses.” These sentiments were echoed by APSC sophomore Kaitlyn Peden, who noted, "The clinic made me much more conscientious of my body position and how it affects the horse, both in the stand-up for the judge as well as when showing the horse at the walk and trot. I also learned techniques to get horses to stay in their own space and out of mine." APSC senior Kaitlyn Behr, from Winchester, VA, remarked, "I was really able to see things from a different perspective. It was a great learning experience,” while Jocelyn Cuthbert, a senior in Equine Science at Colorado State University commented on the connections between work on the ground and in the saddle. "It definitely connected the dots between riding and handling horses. It was a valuable hands-on learning experience!"

We are very grateful to the Mid-Atlantic Hanoverian Breeders’ Club for hosting such an informative clinic and inviting our students to participate. Virginia Tech has been breeding high quality sporthorse for nearly two decades, providing unique national and international experiences for students interested in careers in the equine industry, veterinary medicine or equine science fields. For more information on our programs, please visit www.equine.vt.edu