Plaidcast 353: Julie Winkel & Michael Meller by Taylor, Harris Insurance Services

Plaidcast Episode 353 Julie Winkel Michael Meller


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Piper speaks with Julie Winkel about her young horse trainer school and her trainer symposium that brings together seasoned and young trainers to share knowledge and experience for the next generation of trainers. Michael Meller of MMM Horseman also joins to talk about training the young jumpers in this country. Brought to you by Taylor, Harris Insurance Services. Listen in!


  • Host: Piper Klemm of The Plaid Horse Magazine
  • Guest: Julie Winkel is one of the foremost trainers, judges, clinicians and educators in the country. Julie is an R-rated judge since 1984 and has presided over many of the country’s most prestigious horse shows. Julie has designed courses and judged the ASPCA Maclay Finals, the Dover/USEF Medal Finals, the Platinum Performance/USEF Talent Search Finals-West and the New England Equitation Championships. Julie is a committed volunteer to the sport and has served on many committees and task forces. Julie also co-authored the book Judging Hunters and Equitation: WTF? (Want The Facts?) with Tricia Booker. 
  • Guest: M. Michael Meller is a lifelong horseman who has dedicated his life to the pursuit of excellence in the sport of show jumping. He has helped find and produce some of the top horses in the sport and works closely with owners and riders to achieve top results both nationally and internationally. He is also the founder of the M. Michael Meller Style Award, which recognizes athletes who are not just top riders but also horsemen giving back to the sport and the animals that they love. Presented by Michael, the “Doc Spirit” Award in honor of Dr. John R. Steele is presented annually to horses that best exemplify the heart and athleticism necessary to be competitive at the highest levels of show jumping. 
  • Title Sponsor: Taylor, Harris Insurance Services, Taylor, Harris Insurance Services (THIS) was founded in 1987 to provide specialized insurance for all types of equine risk. THIS places their policies with the highest rated and most secure carriers, meticulously selected for reliability and prompt claims settlement. THIS is proud of their worldwide reputation for responsive and courteous service, and welcomes the opportunity to discuss your equine insurance needs and provide you with a quote.
  • Subscribe To: The Plaid Horse Magazine
  • Sponsors: Purina Animal NutritionAmerica CryoAlexis Kletjian Jewelry, LAURACEA, BoneKare, Austin Hardware, Show Strides Book Series, With Purpose: The Balmoral Standard and Good Boy, Eddie

This transcript was generated automatically. Its accuracy may vary.

Piper Klemm 
[00:01:03] This is the plaidcast. I’m Piper Klemm, publisher of the Plaid Horse magazine. And coming up today on episode 353, I’m going to talk about two different perspectives for how we bring up the next generation in the sport. First, we talk with legendary trainer Julie Winkel about her young horse trainer school and her trainer symposium that brings together seasoned and young trainers in order to share knowledge and experiences. And then I’m going to be speaking with M Michael Miller of MMM Horseman about training young jumpers in this country. This episode is brought to you by Taylor Harris Insurance Services. 

Piper Klemm [00:03:38] Julie Winkel is one of the foremost trainers, judges, clinicians and educators in the country. Julie is a large R rated judge since 1984 and has presided over many of the country’s most prestigious horse shows. Julie’s designed courses and judged the ASPCA Maclay Finals, the Dover USEF Medal Finals, the Platinum Performance USEF Talent Search, West Finals, and the New England Equitation Championships. Julie is a committed volunteer to the sport and has served on many committees and taskforces. Julie is coauthor of the book Judging Hunters and Equitation, WTF, Want the Facts with Tricia Booker. Welcome back to the plaidcast, Julie. 

Julie Winkel [00:04:16] Thank you. Thanks for having me. 

Piper Klemm [00:04:19] I think we all come into this sport saying, I want to do the best job ever and I’m never going to make a wrong decision and I’m always going to do right by my horses. And one of the things, one of the conversations I have with people a lot is intentions are great, but unless you truly have the knowledge to make the best decisions for your horses, you aren’t. No matter what your intentions are, you kind of aren’t capable of a higher level of care. And I think related to that. You’ve started this young trainer symposium series to try to up that level of knowledge, level of care, level of ability for the next generation to understand horses and understand our sport. Can you talk a little bit about your vision and starting to develop that? 

Julie Winkel [00:05:06] Sure. So we have actually two different programs. One is the Young Horse Trainer School, which has gone on now for about 13 years, and that is to share the knowledge with the younger generation of horse starters how to deal with. Even horses that are badly mistreated, badly handled, badly started, that are just basically headed to the kill pen if they can’t be saved. And the three year olds that are ready to get started under saddle. So that program has been in place for a long time with Linda Allen, Jose Alejos and myself. And the vision of that is for people all over the world, young and people that are already horse starters to watch Jose’s methods and he comes from. Many, many generations of horsemen that did not want to share their expertise with him when he was young. And he has learned by. Starting thousands and thousands of colts over the years, and he wants to share his craft with them. So that’s what that school’s about. And then new this year, we started a trainer symposium. And that is to bring together professionals, young and old, that are in our sport, that want to share their experiences and their knowledge. And it was fantastic. We had a lot of participants from all over the United States. Some brought horses, some did not. And it was a fantastic four days. This past couple of weeks ago. And then we’re planning on doing. An East Coast one and a midwest one in 2024. 

Piper Klemm [00:07:28] Talking about Jose and the thousands of Colts, I don’t think that people always understand just the volume of horses that the people who are at the top of the sport have ridden, have trained, have done ground work on. I mean, it’s just repetitive, doesn’t even begin to describe the amount of work that these people put in. 

Julie Winkel [00:07:50] What’s fascinating about Jose is our school is only six days long and the Colts that are started are only ridden five times because they have a break on the fourth day. And from not being some of them never being handled. To day five of them being ridden out in the Grand Prix field, jumping banks, jumping Liverpool’s going out with a bunch of horses up the hills and through the gullies, cross creeks. It is fascinating. And you know, what I’ve found from the Colts he started for me is they all have a very high self-esteem because we’ll turn them out all winter now and won’t bring them back in until their four year olds in the spring. They forget nothing. They have a very great understanding of pressure and release. And when they’re presented with an obstacle, their job is to figure out how to get to the other side. So he really teaches them about problem solving. And it is just amazing that the colts that he starts are set up for life. 

Piper Klemm [00:09:20] And that seems more important than ever to have them set up for life as horses. You know, as we have more veterinary knowledge and horses seem to be going longer and longer, you know that that potential for a career. And also I feel pressure if you make mistakes when they’re young, I mean, it seems like it’s a much longer ranging impact, both positively and negatively in today’s world. 

Julie Winkel [00:09:42] Oh, definitely. I think the us older horse trainers have ruined more horses then we’ve made good ones and we look, you know, we look back and say, Wow, if I would have known then what I know now. I wouldn’t have ruined all these great horses. Actually, at our young horse, at our our trainer symposium that we had after Young Horse trainer school this year, we had Carlton Brooks as one of our guest speakers, and it was so fun to hear him talk about his early mentors and how they had ruined a lot of horses and felt responsible for taking care of them for the rest of their life because it wasn’t their fault that they were in bad hands because of ignorance. 

Piper Klemm [00:10:33] And I think a lot of professionals feel that way I mean many places, like, Oh, you see one or two older ones out in the field. You know, I think a lot of good professionals feel that responsibility. What what are some things that young trainers or all trainers, I mean, are struggling with? I feel like today’s world that just everything is gets more complicated. People have more expectations, are more demanding. Like what? What are trainers facing and how do we get them spending more time on the horses, on the horse care and their own educational process. 

Julie Winkel [00:11:12] Well, for sure. Help- getting help. It’s been very challenging and very expensive. Good grooms. Are very hard to find. And very expensive. Whether they’re at the shows or at home. And. I think the. Problem of running a business and making it financially viable. Is probably the biggest thing people are facing and trainers being able to find their own lane. Not every trainer should be in the same boat. As far as. You know, we have we’re we’re training Grand Prix horses. You know, that’s not everybody’s lane. You have to find as a trainer or professional what you’re best at. Maybe you’re a really good pony trainer, or maybe your lane is running camps or vaulting or, you know, thinking outside the box about what you can do for for me, for I have an internship program. That’s accredited with the post-secondary education system of Nevada. And it’s a two year program for aspiring professionals that want to make a living in the horse business. So. That for me is kind of my lane right now. I love teaching and I love sharing what mistakes I made and what contacts I have with these young professionals showing them the ropes and. Then if they make it for two years, I’ve got. A list of about 50 professionals on a waiting list that are looking for assistant trainers, Barn managers, help on the road, riders. All of it. So it’s a it’s a good avenue for me right now as well. 

Piper Klemm [00:13:33] How has this changed? I mean, I think that, like, I struggle being a younger person, like, weren’t trainers always running a business or businesses are just so much more complicated. Are like, what? What about this has made? Because I understand today’s climate is essentially uniquely challenging. Like, what about this has all has all changed to make this harder? 

Julie Winkel [00:13:57] Yeah. What what’s really changed is back in the old days. People that came to barns to learn how to ride. So they were students. In today’s world, they are clients. And the difference is the clients are catered to where the students weren’t. The students were there for the purpose of learning how to ride before they learned how to show. And in today’s world, the clients want to show before they learn how to ride and before they learn anything about horses. So it’s become very challenging, just changing their perspective. And you don’t have to be a great rider. Trainer, horseman. As much as you have to be a great. People person, communicator, sometimes to have a successful business. And so much of it also is the area you train out of. Are the clients in that area well off as far as financially great jobs. Or are you in a more remote area where you have to dummy down your expectations about what what your clients can afford to buy or lease? So that for sure is a big change in our sport. And our sport has become very elitist. And you can say what you want, but back in the day if you worked hard enough. You could find your way to the top. And nowadays. Just hard work and talent isn’t enough. You’ve got to have some sort of financial backing to really make it to the top. 

Piper Klemm [00:15:59] And then there are so many, you know, pitfalls that come from if you actually find that financial backing, you know what? You know, you’re asked to do what you’re owed. You know, those boundaries become really difficult. You know, in those circumstances, I feel like we’ve almost put people in this position where where they’re powerless by how the sport has evolved. 

Julie Winkel [00:16:20] Absolutely. Because you end up working for a wealthy person, they basically own you. And you know how long that lasts really depends on how much you’re willing to sacrifice. 

Piper Klemm [00:16:36] Where do we go with that? Do we? You know, sometimes I’ll write something and say like a version of find your lane or like, let’s have more realistic goals and stuff. And, you know, of course, I get attacked by the Internet warriors that I’m telling kids that they should have low expectations, and that they can’t do it all. But. But how do we strike that balance between dreaming big and wanting to have an excellent level of horsemanship and care and how far realistically one is going to make it in the sport? 

Julie Winkel [00:17:05] Well, I think if you don’t have the financial backing and you’re not willing to sell your soul, it goes back to beating the bushes and trying to find undiscovered horses that you develop yourself, which that is hard because it takes a lot of time to develop a horse to the top level. But that’s how we used to do it in the old days. We developed our horses. In the past 20 years, I bred horses to the Grand Prix level because I couldn’t afford to buy them and as soon as my son showed interest in being interested in this level. You know, that’s where I went with it. 

Piper Klemm [00:17:54] Being in Nevada, you’re not exactly in a kind of hotbed of a horse community. I think that has so many pros and cons and a lot of ways. I almost think the people who need to peak all the time at every single horse show like miss that opportunity to train horses and train riders, kind of what you were talking about, about students and clients. But I think it’s a kind of pocket of the industry that a lot of people miss, the amount of opportunity on more like, I’ll say, like off beaten living locations. Can you talk about that a little bit? 

Julie Winkel [00:18:28] Yes, you’re absolutely right. I grew up about 60 miles east of Reno in a town of 37 people and rode the school bus an hour each way every day, basically lived in the middle of nowhere and educated myself by reading and. Learning everything I could from afar. Then when I moved to Reno for college, I decided to stay put and stay just ahead of. Everybody else in the area by continuing to educate myself. So I think education and continuing education is number one. But then I never moved because I felt like I could always come home and not have any competition in the area where I could just keep my head down, train horses, give lessons, go to half as many horse shows as everybody else goes to, not chase points. And I did. I made that commitment in my twenties that I was not going to be that person that sacrificed our horses well-being and our horses care for points. And it is. It’s. Fantastic to be able to come home and just stay in your own lane. 

Piper Klemm [00:20:04] And that space to learn. I mean, yeah, that makes so much sense to me because you can’t learn every day and peek all the time. You know, you need that kind of gap for for learning to gel and mature. 

Julie Winkel [00:20:19] And I really feel like horse shows take the training out of the horses and the horse shows should be more like a test or an exam, not your ultimate, ‘this is where I live every week’ and you go home and you do your homework and then you go to another show down the road and see if your homework has paid off and what your next set of homework is. 

Piper Klemm [00:20:49] So many trainers tell me they can’t pay their bills unless they’re on the road, that they’re it’s almost a requirement to exist that they’re on the road so much. Is this like part of it that seems to be like there might be some math issues, but, you know, how how do we break that mentality of like so many people literally believe that they cannot exist unless they’re on the road all the time. 

Julie Winkel [00:21:15] Well, a couple things. It depends on how you set up your business, because for me, we have our own trucks and trailers, so we make money on shipping horses. I think a lot of people pay shippers to do that. We use some of our interns will go to the horse shows and help us out with the grooming, so we’re not paying show grooms all the time. But if you’re on the road all the time and you don’t have clients that can foot those huge bills you’re missing out on. A lesson program at home or the adult ladies that don’t want to necessarily compete. They just want to have a place to get away from work or the the husband or the kids and enjoy their horses. So you’re on the road all the time. You do sacrifice a home business. So there is that balance. And if you have a good stay at home assistant, that’s different. The other piece of it is I think a lot of professionals rent stall space at facilities. Early in my career, I bought property and added to it and I have about 200 acres now. So even though I’m still busting my butt every month to make ends meet, I have property that I could sell down the road. So I think owning real estate is a huge thing. Putting some money away and not depending on selling horses. That’s got to be a bonus. That’s got to be put some money away. If you do sell horses, but you can’t depend on that to make your monthly payments. And you know, salary, insurance, there’s so much the maintenance that goes into owning property. But at the end of the day, it’s the price you pay for having your own place, for sure. 

Piper Klemm [00:23:40] So many places right now are getting rid of their lesson programs. And it’s easy to look at other countries that have more established. Lesson programs, school horse cultures. I mean, is this something that we can bring back? Is this something that is sustainable, at least in some areas of the country? And, you know, I also I bring this up also because of the so many people we’ve interviewed on the podcast, many I’ve asked how you started riding and many of them are from non horse families. I’m from a non horse family. Like without these lesson programs you know our clueless parents signed us up for like there would there would be so many people missing from our sport. 

Julie Winkel [00:24:21] You know you’re absolutely right and there are places that have great school programs but it is expensive to own the horses, take care of the horses and maintain those horses. So you have to be able to charge enough to sustain those costs. And the other thing with IEA. I think there there is a lot of opportunity to have an intercollegiate program. For people that don’t own horses. If you organize it right. So personally, I. I don’t have the experience of having an IEA team. I did judge Nationals last year and it was really fun to see. So many high schoolers that couldn’t afford to be in the sport. And I think that’s why it’s grown so much as as is the intercollegiate program. So that needs to be definitely a specialty for someone that. Has the space has the funds to. Get have the school horses and really promote it. We have had a school program for many years. We stopped our program last year as well because. In our area. And again, I think it depends on the area. These people were not moving up. They would come maybe once a week, maybe once a month. And so we we. Got rid of the school horse program and everyone has to either lease or own a horse. And a lot of those people left because they weren’t interested in doing it seriously. However, a lot of those people now a year later, are coming back and are interested in leasing or buying and continuing. So for sure we have to have that feeder program. In order to, you know, grow the clients that we hope are going to be at the top level, if that’s your goal as a professional. So couple of years ago, I started a nonprofit called Good to Know Horses, and the mission statement is educating people for the good of the horse. So a lot of my programs fall under this nonprofit. Including a first responders clinic that we do twice a year. And that is it’s free. It’s a horse handling and safety clinic. And it is for volunteers, first responders, anybody in the community that wants to learn how to safely handle horses and help us in the event of evacuation. So because we are we do live in a fire area. We have had to evacuate several times. My house burned down about ten years ago during a wildfire and we did have to move 50 horses. We had another professional down the road. Had their barn burned down. First responders were there that knew nothing about horses. They were afraid of them and weren’t able to help enough. And some of the horses were lost. So that is one of the big community service things that we do and are working on putting together video and information that we can share. So anyone in the country that wanted to have a first responders clinic would be able to do that. 

Piper Klemm [00:28:36] It’s such an interesting topic, and I love the I love all the things that I wouldn’t think about or, you know, kind of wouldn’t cross your path unless something made them. And I think that’s something most of us don’t think about in our daily life of, you know what? If we need the help of people who. Have no horse experience and at such a huge service to the community. That would be amazing if more places could offer. Can people reach out to you if they want to host a clinic like that at their own place? 

Julie Winkel [00:29:05] Absolutely. 

Piper Klemm [00:29:07] All right, well, put Julie’s information and Good to know horses in the show notes. And if that’s something you want to get involved in your local community. You can add that to your schedules. Julie, thank you so much for joining us on the plaidcast. 

Julie Winkel [00:29:21] Okay. Thank you for having me. 


Piper Klemm [00:32:22] M Michael Meller is a lifelong horseman who has dedicated his life to the pursuit of excellence in the sport of showjumping. He has helped find and produce some of the top horses in the sport and works closely with the owners and riders to achieve top results, both nationally and internationally. He is also the founder of the M Michael Meller Style Award, which recognizes athletes who are not just top riders but also horsemen giving back to the sport and the animals they love. Presented by Michael the Doc Steele Spirit Award in honor of Dr. John R Steele is presented annually to horses that best exemplify the heart and athleticism necessary to be competitive at the highest level of showjumping. Welcome to the plaidcast, Michael. 

M Michael Meller [00:32:58] Thank you. Thank you for having me. 

Piper Klemm [00:33:00] As we are start breeding more in this country and having more conscientious bloodlines, we kind of find ourselves, I think, in a gap of now we’re breeding better quality, but in between breeding and having high level performance show jumpers, we have this gap on starting young horses. Can you talk about kind of your experience and your vision to close this gap? 

M Michael Meller [00:33:21] America falls short I think about developing young horses and it starts with the horse shows and the management and the course designers and the judges aren’t really tuned in to what is supposed to happen when when we try to do the young horses in the United States, they it would fall short because. We try to Americanize it and not go to how they did it in Europe It’s turned into every year. Let’s at the horse shows. Let’s try it this way. And. We really should stay to the European standard. So courses all across the world. As a five year old. As a four year old. This is what they jump. So, you know, the young the young horses have ramps and ground rails and the idea of a young horse divison is to prepare and ask the questions and have the horses understand the questions and grow up through through it. But you go in Europe, the five year olds, the six years, they jump a certain height. It’s probably broken down like three times during the year. They start at one level becomes a little more difficult questions. Then they go up a little more and they start it easy and then they ask more questions, make it more tactical, and every time you rise up to a new, new height, it’s introduced so the horse understands what they’re supposed to do. And in doing that way and staying you like Universal throughout the whole world, would be the first place I would start. And then you have to start to develop course designers and judges to understand it. I had a young horse that I was just had to qualify, and win a class or go around in a class or however they decided to do it and they said they wanted me to go with the 120 speed and it’s at the beginning of the season and I keep looking at this going, Why did I have so many time faults? Well, they judged it as a speed round for all the other horses, and I went up to the course designer. She said, No, Michael, that’s not right. They should only judged it by the time allowed that I put here, even though you were going at the same time. And they went up to the judge, I asked for the steward and he said to me. You should have gone faster. 

Piper Klemm [00:36:00] Think we’re in a place where fewer and fewer course designers have even trained a horse before? 

M Michael Meller [00:36:05] Yeah, that. That is. That is a true statement. And I just don’t think that the. I just think there’s no it’s not cohesive. It doesn’t develop a young horse. And every year I’ve gone to the finals they’ve had a different way of. Judging it and doing it. And I don’t understand. The wheel has been made. I don’t understand why we have to try to reinvent it in this country, and we’re not doing a good job of it anyways. We have some great, great people that are involved with the young horses that Jacobs and their daughter have great, nice young horses coming up. And there are people out west, the Taylor Flurry riding a bunch of nice, very, very green horses. And there are some people that really want to do it. But you come to a horse show and the young horses are put in ring 22 and. When the young horse jumper division first was talked about in the United States, if a horse show got the young horse division. Had to go to in the main grand prix ring. That’s what you’re teaching them to do, not in out in the back 40 in this sort of whatever jumps they have left and whatever course designer is doing it. And then they go late. The four years before the five year old, the six year olds, and like by the time they’re like seven, they walk into the Grand Prix. It’s like. I don’t think so. They’ve had no experience to do so. I did. I went to the Young Horse finals and they had the eight year old division going with it. And. I didn’t understand that at all because. They were being judged as a young horse, but they got to wear boots behind and there was no real qualification for it. And if it was a really a young horse division you can have eight year olds in the ring that have jumped a two star. It was very disappointing. 

Piper Klemm [00:38:09] When should horses start wearing hind boots? What are your thoughts on that? 

M Michael Meller [00:38:13] I think eventually they’re going to try to phase it completely out. But if I’m just saying, if you have a young horse division and it’s being judged as a young horse division. It should have young horse division boots on. It shouldn’t have double strap back boots. That has nothing. That’s like even if you read the rules of a young horse class, they have to have basically just protective boots behind. But I don’t think a horse that’s doing a young horse division should have as an eight year old should have competed in a two star grand prix. I think there has to be some sort of limitation, some sort of. Being in the young horse division throughout it’s life and then all of a sudden they can anyone can jump in. And just for the class, it was really no qualifications for it. 

Piper Klemm [00:39:13] So we’re we’re kind of failing our our young horses by being inconsistent. How are we failing our our young riders and our young trainers who who want to train young horses but but don’t really have the guidance?

M Michael Meller [00:39:26] That’s very interesting. The knowledge of a lot of these Grand Prix riders to ride a Grand Prix horse is pretty good. But to get on a horse that’s four years old that has the quality of their Grand Prix horse and bring it to that, bring it up through the ranks. It’s not. It’s not what they’re interested in. It’s become like, how fast can I get there? And it’s a little it’s not it’s not as. As when I was brought up and when we were younger, there was like, if someone was going to give you a young horse to do or anything, you would jump at it. And they. Not with this. Everything is pay to play. So there’s really no room in the young horses. To develop any anything, develop a horse, because there’s really not the right classes for it. And they want they want they want to rush the process. And it’s no longer of the day that the kid that, you know, mucked out and raked the ring and did all that and got a few riding lessons can become a Grand Prix rider. And there’s no room for that. There’s not enough money for that. And it’s sad. 

Piper Klemm [00:40:45] I mean, we’ve talked about this on the podcast. I’m not sure people understand that the horses that other people will pay you to ride are not necessarily the ones that you might want to ride in their current condition or whatever. 

M Michael Meller [00:40:56] Right. That’s it. And they do they they think it’s a great idea, but they’re not in the big ring and that’s where they want to be. We’ve turned it into like it’s a little of a celebrity sport. And I think that’s really sad. It’s not, it’s no longer, a horse show. It’s really about the riders. And that’s sad. And we don’t have I don’t see a way out of it because everything is moving to that direction that you need to be. You need to have a lot of money behind you to get up the ranks and up the ladder. And it’s far from the days when you could develop a horse that both of you walked up that ladder hard with a lot of sweat and grit, and you got there and you went to the Olympics. There’s a there’s many people that have done that. 

Piper Klemm [00:41:56] What can we do about it? Do we? Do we send our kids to Europe? Do we keep the horses? 

M Michael Meller [00:42:04] I think I think sending the kids I think I think that’s a great experience to send the kids to Europe and go to where there breeding farms and go to where they start the young horses and really learn your your trade and literally learn about the horses. They’re usually I believe a lot of them think that they come over, they get on that plane and somewhere up there they go through. You know. All the education that is land here. Perfect. And they have a Grand Prix horse. You know, they’re having a little you know, that’s what I think has happened. I think we should educate our clients and riders about exactly how a horse, how they have this horse, how they have a great hunter, a great jumper. And and put more importance into developing instead of just buying the top of the top of the line or the cream of the crop wherever it is in the world. And in showing it, that’s the only thing that’s important to them is the ribbon in the ring. That sad, and that’s just where our industry is going. But I think if management and horse shows put more emphasis on the young horse and more classes that for developing young horses and riders and try to tailor the horse show experience. We might have a shot at it. 

Piper Klemm [00:43:33] To me, a big part of the expense comes from all the travel, and the number is that you’re at the horseshow. When I look at the European model, I mean, they seem to zip in and zip out of horse shows in a way that they can keep their horses going at home and just not, you know, in the developing stage, just not showing as many days in a row. And every day you’re not at a horse show. Everything’s more affordable. Is that a model that could work here? 

M Michael Meller [00:44:01] I think it’s a good model that could work and it’s the right thing to do for to to take care of the industry. Yes. But I also think they don’t offer as much, I mean not in the in the in the championship. Pay to play. I mean those costs are prohibitive. But as far as showing normally in Europe, it’s very inexpensive to show there. Yes, they don’t give as much money, but very inexpensive to show. And I think I think I think at some way the young horse division has to get a break as far as they shouldn;t pay entries. The only way it’s going to get off the ground. They shouldn’t pay. And so they don’t get money. That’s fine. But you’re developing a horse. And I think that would help out a lot. And I think I think we have to prioritize the horse shows I know they’re they’re all now turning into big business. And I think they have to make their money. And but I think as far as developing horses, there has to be some sort of break. And for the for the young horse division. And as far as being able to go to many different venues and not showing all the classes, but developing a horse and getting it into the Grand Prix ring and teaching it, all the questions that’s going to be asked. At least be prepared when other questions are asked. They’re not confused and they’re comfortable in their environment. They’re comfortable at the height that that age group jumps. And if you’re you have a horse that you know is good up till like the six year old, but, you know, the seven year old or that division is going to be too much for them, know when to take them out of the young horse division and let them. There’s nothing wrong with a great 120 or 130 horse and let them be very competent and have come from the young horse division, but have educated people saying there’s no reason to push them. They’ll be very successful at this age and at that very successful at that of of a certain height. There’s a lot that goes on with it. You have to be a horseman and have to you know, you have to you have to take care of animals. 

Piper Klemm [00:46:27] It’s hard to kind of ring the alarm bell. I’m with you. But it it’s also hard to kind of ring the alarm bell when the divisions are so big and so deep and so competitive. 

M Michael Meller [00:46:38] Yeah, but they’re not. But there’s not. But as far as the young horses, it’s a very slim pickings. There are certain people that do it and have horses and that’s great, but there’s nothing to develop the interest. Develop. That as a sport is like saying, Oh, everyone, let’s you just can go to college, but you can’t go to grammar school. I mean, it’s very strange to me and in Europe with all these nice horses that come over, have had the education, they’ve had steadfast training, they’re familiar with the questions and the venues can change and they have gotten really comfortable showing in the ring. So when they land in America. They’re comfortable and that. That is that is a great thing you can teach a horse to do when you’re trying to get it to be a performer for you. And I don’t believe we’re endorsing that at all, or we’re taking no relevance to how important it is. And if the Young Horse Division was easier as far as financially. To go into. And there was. A little management really promoted it. I think you could pull it off the ground. I know there’s a lot of nice young horses in this country. And if America really wanted to, they always say there’s not enough. I don’t know if you heard, this is not enough. You know, there’s not enough brood mares, there’s not enough this, there’s not enough that to have the stuff to do that, I said, well, if we went to any college or any place that has donated horses i bet you’d find some really good breeding, very nice mares to develop a breeding operation. But that’s a whole different other story. 

Piper Klemm [00:48:33] Everyone’s looking for that special, you know, special horse. What are they looking for at the highest level of the sport? 

M Michael Meller [00:48:41] They have to be. There’s a there’s a big willingness that the way every year that the sport evolves and evolves and it’s always right now it’s. It’s done on. Yes, they can jump the scope, but the the the the jump material is turned into close to balsa wood. And the speed you’re traveling across the ground is faster and faster every year. So instead of before they were the, you know, the European, the big models, the little heavier and stuff like now, now they’re very selle francis, very, very, very thoroughbred qualities. Mad blood, but not hot and very electric. And usually they start out with a hind end that overpowers the front end. And you’ll see that when they jump, they’ll see the scope is it’s easy and it’s limitless. And every year they’re breeding for more of the the the new sport horse the it’s only changed because of the the breeding for for the new sport horse and it’s more and more and more thoroughbredish it’s always a little smaller it’s what they’re breeding for now and that’s what’s coming down the pike and that’s what they’re looking for. And they they have to be very fast. And that’s a lot of qualities you have to have. It’s dead brave, but allergic to the wood and can travel at high speed and very catlike. And still very brave. It’s a lot to ask for, but it’s being bred. 

Piper Klemm [00:50:28] And those sound like really difficult horses to to break and get started. 

M Michael Meller [00:50:35] It does sound that way. It’s just that you have to you have to go in a different mentality. You can’t be the old school mentality, the word break a horse. Sometimes I think that they took it literally. I think you have to go. You have to be really, really careful because those smart horses remember everything and your development has to be very, very thought out. And when to ask the questions, win the war. Not every battle. You have to start really thinking a little differently than the old school way of breaking a horse. 

Piper Klemm [00:51:11] So we’ve made every step of this more thinking, more labor, more intense, and wondering why no one wants to do it. 

M Michael Meller [00:51:21] You’re exactly right. But there’s nothing more more satisfaction that ones that you you have started and have had success in the Young Horse division. But and then you you sell and then you say and you see them out jumping, you know, World Cup finals or you know. Big, big classes. And you started it. And you taught it how to jump. There’s a lot to be said about that brings you back to why you’re doing it. The love of the horse. 

Piper Klemm [00:51:58] Michael, thank you so much for joining us on the plaidcast. 

M Michael Meller [00:52:01] Oh, thank you. It was actually fun. 

Piper Klemm [00:53:45] To learn more about anything we’ve discussed on today’s show, visit You can find show notes at Follow the Plaid Horse on all the social medias. You can subscribe to the print edition of the Plaid Horse magazine at Please rate and review the plaidcast anywhere you listen to it. And if you enjoy this episode, please share it with your friends. I will see you at the ring!