Futurity Foresight, Part 2

AQHA Professional Horseman Dave Dellin gives advice on prepping your 2-year-old for the fall futurities.

Are you thinking your 2-year-old has what it takes to show at the futurities this fall?  Prep your prospect right with advice from AQHA Professional Horseman Dave Dellin of Purcell, Oklahoma. Dave has trained a lot of youngsters for big shows, including One Hot Krysum, who won the 2001 2-year-old western pleasure AQHA World Championship. This is the second in a two-part series; want to review Part 1?

Show Preparation
Dave familiarizes his horses with the futurity environment by taking them to shows where he is exhibiting other horses. Even though he’ll take the youngsters along to local shows, Dave isn’t afraid to take them to the big ones, either.

“I personally like to take these horses to long shows like the Arizona Sun Circuit, the Texas Classic or the Red Bud Spectacular,” Dave says. “That way, we are at a certain location for five or six days, maybe a little longer, and those horses are then able to get acclimated to being ridden away from home for a long period of time.”

Like Dave Dellin's advice? Learn more from this AQHA Professional Horseman and world champion exhibitor, as well as National Snaffle Bit Association Executive Director Dianne Eppers in "Showing to Win: Western Pleasure."  The DVD covers topics such as over-canting, taking gaits in a timely manner, passing and more.

By hauling to shows before competing, Dave ensures that his youngsters don’t have a bad experience the first time in the show arena.

“You really want the horse show to be a pleasant experience for the horse from Day 1,” Dave says. “With these young horses, from those first few outs and those first few times they actually show, you are setting in motion how that horse is going to view shows pretty much for the rest of his life. You want it to be positive.”

Readiness Evaluation
During the entire training process, Dave evaluates his 2-year-olds on whether they are ready for the futurities or should wait to start showing when they are 3 or 4 years old.

“There’s a lot of times, I’ll put 90 days on a horse, and if I don’t think he has the physical strength or maturity, I’ll turn him back out his entire 2-year-old year and start back on him again the following winter,” Dave says.

Roll It!

Meet the winner of the 2009 AQHA Ford Youth World Show 2-year old geldings.

“I personally really like horses that don’t necessarily get stagnant mentally. I want a horse that consistently wants to try to learn more and every day comes out and remembers what you’ve worked on the day before. They want to please you and go on to the next thing. Those are the horses that most often make it to the futurities.”

It’s when Dave faces road blocks with a youngster that he begins to think the horse might not be a futurity contender.

“If he’s having a hard time following the program, then a lot of times, I’ll back off the horse because mentally he is not mature enough to really handle it,” he says.

How a horse handles the show environment also determines whether he can make it at the futurity. Usually, a horse may be overwhelmed the first day but has calmed down by the second. However, if he has been at shows and still can’t focus on his job, he doesn’t yet have the mental maturity for futurities.

Be Realistic
Dave always explains to his clients that training for a futurity is a process that might work and might not. And if a horse isn’t ready to show, he also makes it a point to explain what happened.

The "Showing to Win: Western Pleasure" DVD illustrates the standards and provides you with the information you need to be successful in the western pleasure class. Using unique dual-screen and slow-motion technology, "Showing to Win: Western Pleasure" defines what judges are looking for in the western pleasure horse by showing correct and incorrect performances side-by-side.

“I’m very, very open with my owners, and I basically tell them what happened, whether the horse went through a growth spurt or he became resistant or whatever caused it,” Dave says. “I just try to explain the best I can and give my owners a good course of action for the future. It might be that we need to wait or that the horse needs a new event.”

It all comes down to the well-being of the horse. Train for the fall futurities, but don’t train for a futurity horse – train for a show horse who will be happy, sound and sane. Keep in mind the longevity of the horse’s show career and let your youngster tell you when he’s ready.