All posts by Jackie

The training of a horse begins at birth and continues throughout it's life. Jacqueline A. Brittain is responsible for the day-to-day care and training of our horses. She is a life long equestrian who truly puts the welfare of the horse first. Because of her many years of caring for and training Thoroughbred race horses, she also has expert knowledge in equine conformation, nutrition, injuries and medications. Her many jobs at MWM include all aspects of horse management, care, training, breeding arrangements and total farm management. Her particular specialty is in developing a young horse to it's best capabilities in performance and as a pleasurable equine partner.

Summertime Riding and Care, by Jackie Brittain

Horse training in summer

Many horse owners have more time to spend with their horses during the summer vacation months and make plans for the show ring or trail riding.

With the summer comes periods of high temperatures that affect your horse physically. Certain precautions can be taken to insure that your horse remains hydrated and performs its best.

Preferably it is better to start a summer health management program in the late spring. Heat related issues begin over a period of time and can be prevented with good care.

Continue reading Summertime Riding and Care, by Jackie Brittain


Spring Season Thoughts for Horse and Rider, by Jackie Brittain

Spring checklist for ranch and horsesSpring is around the corner and there are many horse related things to do before show or trail season.

Sometimes we spend more time in the saddle and we need to “step off” so to speak and examine all aspects of owning and caring for your horse. This will insure a safe and successful season for you and your horse, no matter what discipline you enjoy.

As a rider, one needs to look over all safety gear. Helmets should be looked at for cracks, lining or padding wear and rigging checked. A decision should be made to purchase a new one if the helmet is in poor condition. Plastic materials tend to become brittle in the sun and can crack during the impact of a fall.

A riders show clothes or riding gear should also be checked for fit and wear. It is a good idea to make a check list of your riding clothes to make travel preparation easier.

Spring is the time to check your horsesA rider should be vigilant with the care of riding tack. Repairs should be made promptly. The decision for replacement or upgrading ones tack can be addressed before show season. Cleaning and caring for your tack after every use can insure long lasting and safe riding. Sweat and dirt deteriorates leather and is unhealthy. A simple damp clean cloth can make a difference. Also, dirty tack sends out a poor impression to anyone involved in horsemanship, especially judges!

Spring is the time to check your horses’ general health and update veterinary needs. Your veterinarian can provide a program for your area and many boarding facilities have vaccination requirements.

Horses’ teeth should be checked and floated at least once a year. Preferably, young horses should be floated every six months and have their “wolf teeth” extracted as early in life as possible. Horses are shedding “tooth caps” this time of the year and some break or crack causing pain and therefore behavioral problems. Dental care is essential to a horses overall health since it affects eating and digestion and manners.

stables and paddocksThe stables and paddocks should get checked regularly for safety and cleanliness. Repairs need to be made year around to prevent injury to your horse. Wire fencing should be maintained properly and replaced when broken. Monitor grazing areas for poisonous weeds and remove by approved environmental methods.

Feeders and water fountains, troughs should be cleaned on a weekly basis and replaced when cracked or worn out. It is much easier to maintain feeders and water for cleanliness on a schedule. It is essential to insure that no mold or foreign animal material is contaminating the food and water for your horse.

Stall flooring should be level and corners cleaned of moldy hay and bedding. Clean under and replace floor mats as needed.

feed roomThe feed room should be thoroughly cleaned of old feed and dispose of empty containers. Rodents are vectors of disease. Mold and dust should be eliminated.

Check over your horse trailer beginning with the tires. Make sure treads are good and tires are properly inflated. Depending on use it is a good idea to do a professional brake inspection and service. Grease all latches and check lights. Replace floor mats as needed and clean underneath for moldy hay and feed and check trailer flooring for rust, cracks or if wood check for rotten boards.

I suggest you make a “spring list” of horse items as a yearly inventory to insure a safe and successful riding season.


Jackie Brittain
Merriewold Morgans Trainer




Beginning a Career in the Show Ring or Trail, by Jackie Brittain

Kandie-6-2010Now that you feel confident in the partnership you have developed through training your horse, you may feel ready to advance to new locations to ride and even compete.

I think there are gradual steps to be taken to expose your horse in a manner to present new places and objects so they are taken in a positive and easy manner.  Using common sense and patience are your best tools to rely on.

Step number one: Does your horse load and ride nicely in the trailer?  Every horse has its individual learning curve and you should already be familiar with your horses ability through the early training.

Merriewold KandieStep number two: Advance training to prepare for an event or outing.  Make sure you prepare your horse at home.  New things such as a bath or clippers should be introduced at home and well in advance.

Step number three: Begin with small outings and its best to have along another horse and even better an experienced horse for company, especially if you plan to stable overnight at a show.

Step number four: Pace your horse according to the individual personality.  For example, is your horse reactive or curious about new places and new objects.  And remember you do not want to have to force your horse through a situation that it cannot emotionally handle.  It just sets you and your horse up for a lifetime of:  “I don’t want to do that task or go by that object”.

Lucky 6-2012Step number five: Remember that you are the leader and be confident and supportive in all the new things you are introducing.  I think going to a new place that you are familiar with will transmit a sense of calm to your horse.

I have always been told and believe that the horse is your mirror.  Have you noticed when your demeanor is uptight it is directly transmitted to your horse.  And on days that you mood is happy and up, so is your horses.

I think horses are the most amazingly sensitive and intuitive of all of the creatures we use for work or sport.  They are genuine friends and helpers to man and that is the greatest attraction.


Jackie Brittain
Merriewold Morgans Trainer




Your 3 yr. old (cont.): Tips for Ground Training, by Jackie Brittain

Jackie and Kona restingNow that you have started to ride your three year old you will realize the transition that exists between the ground training to the training under saddle.

As riders we think that time in the saddle and “putting in the miles” in the saddle is the key to training a horse. It could not be further from the truth and we all seem to find this out by returning to the basics.

Issues in the saddle usually originate from issues that were not resolved in early ground work. That is why it is crucial to return as often as possible to the ground and find those braces and why that hip does not yield.

Balance is the key to having your horse use itself equally and will insure a sound horse. You can discover your horses weaknesses and build up strength through ground exercises as well as in the saddle.

Lucky and Ray Berta

Also, by working on the ground you can connect with your horse in a way that the conversation is continued as you step up to the saddle. The message the rein gives on the ground should be the same in the saddle.

It is completely normal to find a brace against a rein. It could be due to many things and some braces are stronger than others. It could be physical and it could be an evasive action.

Relaxation is the key to remove the brace since most come from tension. Try to examine the source of the tension and see if you can overcome it through ground exercises that support suppleness.

Honey and JackieMany times we feel that the horse’s neck is bending to the left yet the horse is thinking right or away. First of all we need the ear. Sometimes a soft scratching or rub on the neck or shoulder brings a little tip of the ear your direction. Next comes the eye and then the head turns or bends towards you. Now you have the attention of the horse, it is time to make your request.

Taking a step back is sometimes the best remedy. Always, do an inventory of your horses ground skills. It can be the best explanation for issues in the saddle.


Jackie Brittain
Merriewold Morgans Trainer