It all starts with the long reining. Rather than lungeing, yearlings are started at Balmoral in the age-old manner which causes less stress on young joints and bones. A kindly process, long reining takes great sensitivity in the human doing the teaching and Balmoral has a core of individually trained staff members to bring the babies on.
Balmoral wants to get youngsters going early, watching them closely as even the gentlest of work schedules, with turn-out to follow, helps them to develop physically and mentally. The basic programme, adjusted for each individual, aims to use walking, trotting and gentle cantering to build a base of fitness and strength in tendon, ligament and muscle tissue.
From there, case by case, strength and stride is developed and, by the time the "pre-trainers" leave Balmoral, they are hard and fit thus making the trainer's job that much easier, and the route to the racetrack a quicker one.
15 work riders have also been individually trained at Balmoral and any newcomers go through training wherever they come from. Nicola supervises the strings, switching the best riders around within small groups of workers in what thus become long daily riding sessions in the undulating terrain that characterises the whole property.
The long list of owners and trainers - Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town trainers - nowadays entrusting their pre-trainers and resters to Balmoral attests to the results. Where some trainers prefer to take over earlier than others, the majority ask Balmoral to take horses to within 4-6 weeks of their first race.