Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: New South Wales, Australia
When I was thirteen I got a rising two year old, with only a week's worth of handling ever.
I taught her to do everything, lead well, pick up feet, be washed. When she was almost three I started riding her lightly. By the time she was five she had great basic dressage skills, she was starting to jump both small pole jumps and cross country style jumps and would go out quietly on trails alone or with others.
I'd never had an instructor with her because where I lived pretty much the only instructors you get are for riding. I'd leased a very highly strung, untrained TB before getting her. When we got an instructor out for help with the TB, they said "I can't teach you anything until you get your horse under control and working quietly", so until I got her going well under saddle it wasn't really worth getting help.
In the end I sold her when she was almost six. The owner could ride but wasn't too experienced, but with instruction she built on the basic dressage and now competes in lowish level dressage and rides a lot in adult riding club. I think all in all it was a success.
Looking back, with what I know now, I cannot believe my parents let me get a 2 year old as a 13 year old. Even my mum can't believe it knowing what she now knows about horses. I was so young and not really experienced enough at all. I was so lucky to get such a quiet, smart horse though, any other horse and perhaps I'd be dead now. I was a good kid, I always had common sense and would think things through, I was well read but still nowhere near ready for something that young.
Its not just the skill needed for training horses, it's also the dedication for years of repetitive constant work. Training horses isn't essentially that hard really if you've got a quiet horse, but when things go wrong, they can go really wrong, and they can go wrong so easily if you don't know what you're doing. I also know few people who really have the time and dedication to train a horse.
Although not all people share my opinion, I believe that young horses need constant training, maybe half an hour of groundwork, half an hour of ridden every day, for a year or more. Few people, besides professional horse people, seem to have the ongoing dedication to do that while their life is going on. They think they do, but then they skip one day for a family BBQ, or to go to the coast, or the movies, or they sleep in on Sunday, and it all adds up.
I'd never buy an unbroken horse again.