Haha, here I come, the showmanship addict!
It depends on the individual horse and how much handling they've had. I usually start my weanlings on it at about 6 months, but that's just because I've had them and built up their trust and confidence already for about 2 months, and they are super smart. They love to learn, so it's easy. The younger they are, the easier, it seems. The thing is, when they're young, you can't expect perfection like you do when the horse is older, because young horses don't have the attention span and they will just get frustrated. I like teaching them younger because it's easier and then it's more natural for them as they get older. My young ones that I start on it usually do very well in the show ring, but the older ones take twice as much work and then I dunno, it's just hard.
I start with a little of everything. Like for 15 mins I'll work on leading by me. That's usually the very first thing. They have to lead by your shoulder. With young horses, don't overcorrect them. They'll want to drag behind, so you might have to swing the rope at them a little to bring them up. So then they'll run ahead of you, but don't correct that immediately because technically, they did what you asked and they wouldn't see what you wanted if you pulled them back. Just bring them back slowly and then walk by them a bit. When they're doing it right, quit. Praise them and then stop working with them for a minute. Then they'll associate the rest with doing the right thing. Then I usually go to backing, then trotting, then pivoting, and last, squaring up. And of course, the quarter system, but that goes with squaring up.
Mares... haha. My mare just took lots and lots of repetition, but since we're defending Grand Champs for 4 years, I guess it paid off!
My babies that I've started have been SUPER easy. Just easier the younger they are I think. Grand champs at fair, reserve champs at state horse show. =) I have another one now, and I think she's going to be the hardest youngster I've done. She's just got the attention span of a squirrel with ADD after drinking 7 cups of espresso though, lol.
Geldings... The two I've taught have been easier than the mares, but harder than the babies. They're more willing, but once they're older, they're kind of set in their ways and it takes just lots of time.
Here's some pics!
Hmm. It seems that my computer is being stupid and will only add one. Oh well. haha.
To rein a horse is not only to guide him,
but also to control his every movement.