Step One. Step Two. Step Three. Step Four. And so on. The process of converting a Thoroughbred racehorse to a Thoroughbred eventer requires many moments of learning, training, progressing.
Icabad Crane, in his work with world-class event rider/trainer Phillip Dutton, is no exception. The training involves learning dressage – a series of precise movements in a ring under the watchful eyes of a judge. Once a fast-galloping, lead-changing, powerful-starting racehorse, Icabad Crane must be a calm, collected, responsive, disciplined athlete now. His bold side gets to come out in cross country, where he navigates jumps over varying sizes and shapes, plus water obstacles, hills, banks and the like. Finally, show jumping adds the final element and mixes the discipline of dressage with the bravery of cross country. A good show jumper must leap boldly when needed, but listen and relax and turn on demand.
You can watch Icabad Crane go through some of these training steps on the Herringswell Stables YouTube Channel. The videos include several of Dutton narrating the training process plus some post-event comments from Dutton’s assistant Waylon Roberts, who was aboard for two competitions in June.
Our favorite video is titled “The Dreaded Water,” and shows Icabad Crane learning the water obstacle – about as far from his racing career as you could get. It’s not that bad, and it’s only referred to as dreaded because he’d probably prefer to lie down and roll in it rather than trot or canter through. Regardless, he’s learning.