Alright...I need the horse experts! - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 06-17-2009, 10:24 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Freeport Illinois
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Exclamation Alright...I need the horse experts!

I have always had horses, but am thinking about breaking my own horse...What are some things I will need to know, also how hard would you say this is. I have a lot of time but I need to know where to start and how old the horse should be when i start to do certain things.
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post #2 of 7 Old 06-17-2009, 01:32 PM
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There are no set rules for backing a horse other than to go at a pace that the horse accepts, many different people and cultures have their own ideas.
Having backed about 10 myself I can say that they were all different, from spending hours getting them used to having something on their backs to literally just getting on them ( had 3 that I just vaulted on without any fuss at all, one of which was a full blown arab and another a KWPN Stallion the third a pedigree Lipizzaner ) .

You will get to know your horse - spend time 'playing' with him and see how you feel about how he feels. Don't stress - a horse will sense tension in you, try to do things as naturally as possible so the horse gets into a comfort zone - it makes things as easy and painless as possible.

Good luck - it is a very rewardiing experiance in the end.
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post #3 of 7 Old 06-17-2009, 02:01 PM
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I'm in the process of saddle breaking 2 (first time for me) They were both born here so I've had lots of time with them.
I've never broken an unknown horse. I've had green broke and gone from there but never an adult unbroke one.
I think I like the bringing up baby way. I know what they have been exposed to and what if any mistakes that were made.
An adult horse coming to you wild can come with all sorts of issues.
I guess it depends on how confident you are in your knowledge base. I think if you don't know anything about horse training you better learn quick or get as much help as you can. Otherwise you will end up with a wreck of a horse or worse a broken body.

"Until one has loved an animal, part of one's soul remains unawakened..."
- Anatole France
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post #4 of 7 Old 06-17-2009, 02:11 PM
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Great advice from both posters. I just wanted to add that it would probably be a good idea to have a good trainer on-call just in case something comes up that you don't know how to deal with. Since this is the first one to train yourself, I would suggest that you work with a trainer and learn as much as you can from them while teaching your horse. IMHO, the most important thing that you need to know is how to read a horse and recognize when they have had enough or when you are asking too much. I got hurt really bad when I was a teenager because I pushed a young mare too hard and asked too much. She bucked me off on my head and I thought I broke my neck. :( NOT COOL. As for how easy it will be really depends on the horse. I have rode many that learned quickly and never offered to buck and I have rode others that pull a rodeo bronc every time you get on and seem to never learn anything.

One other piece of advice, don't try to "sneak" the rides on a young horse. That doesn't teach them anything. When you do get on them, let them know that you are there and that you are the one giving directions. Make sure that they flex their neck and give to the bit well and you need to establish forward motion from the ground before you ever get on them.

Good luck and best wishes. :)

Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog:
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post #5 of 7 Old 06-17-2009, 02:28 PM
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Horse breaking is an art, a slow dance between horse and rider than can end in success....or failure.

The difficulty depends on several factors.
Number one being YOUR experience as a horse person. A horse person well qualified to break a horse *in my opinion* is one that has handled and ridden many different types of horses. From the dead broke lesson horse to the spooky, green broke colt. You do need a certain set of skills to be able to handle a possibly terrorfied, high dangerous colt or filly whom has the saddle on his or her back for the first time in their life.

Number two is the horse itself. What is it's personality like? How was it handled and brought up as a baby? Is it dominate or submissive? Flighty or calm?

For example, you have two different three-year colts ready for saddle training. Colt #1 was handled frequently, halters, and leads. He is a generally confident colt, but bathing and being tied scares him, he is a bit spooky. He is a submissive horse.
Colt #2 was handled as a baby and as a yearling, but has since then not been handled. He hates being haltered, is a pain to lead, but stands tied alright and does somewhat okay with being bathed. He is calm. He is a dominate horse.

The two colts do not seem much different than each other, when in reality they are worlds apart. You may be able to break Colt #2 easier, but could have serious issues with showing him that YOUR the boss, not him. He could be dangerous if not trained properly, and has a chance of becoming a very disrespectful kicker. You need a high level of confidence, determination, and skill to turn him into a well-rounded mount.
Colt #1 may take some more time to teach, but he could be also be dangerous if not properly taught to be confident. If he is aloud to much confidence, he could turn out like #2. Not enough, and he could become frightened of the littlest things. Handled or trained to roughly, and he could become terrorfied of people. He needs a confident, but sensitive and intelligent trainer to bring out his fullest potential.

A very important skill in horse training is a knowledge of equipment and horse behavior. If your colt kicks, you need to be able to identify the cause and correct it before it becomes a habit. If your colt doesn't lead correctly, you need to know what kind of halter and what course of action should be taken in order to teach him to do so.

An incompetent trainer can lead to a dead horse. It's vital that you have a level head and aren't swayed by stupid training suggestions such as 'you gotta tie 'em up real tight like in the barn then put tarps and fans all over to desensitize them!' or 'if you leave the lead on in the pasture, they'll get used to it'

A horse should never, ever, be started under saddle before at LEAST 2 1/2 years and ideally 3-4 years. NEVER put anything heavy on a yearling and NEVER EVER mount any horse under 2 1/2 years old. You can seriously injure or ruin the horse.
There are many things you can do before a horse is ready for the saddle. Work with him with scary things such as cars, tarps, cows, birds, dogs, water, etc. Work on haltering, leading, picking up their feet, standing tied and bathing.

The most important tip of all is of course to be patient, calm, and clear minded. Frustration, anger, and irritation are things you cannot avoid but don't ever let them overtake your judgement. Quite, consistent sessions will get the point across much better than loud, irregular ones.

I'm in the process of breaking out my own colt. Good luck to you! Horse training isn't an easy job, but it sure as heck is a rewarding one!

Wait! I'll fix it....
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post #6 of 7 Old 06-17-2009, 04:20 PM
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I took riding lessons for 10+ years and got my first horse (older already trained) and then I said the same exact thing you're saying and boyyy was I not ready. You need lots of time yes, but also lots of money. It's wise like the others have said to always have a trainer. Even though I thought I was ready, I only rode push button horses, never horses that were as green as me.

I'd say go for it because it's a strong bond being with a horse since the wee years to the older years. Just be ready because it can get very frustrating at times.
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post #7 of 7 Old 06-17-2009, 08:05 PM
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First, find a good trainer that is willing to come to you (or you trailer the horse to them) for lessons. Hands-on help is bar-none the best when learning how to break a horse.

I would buy the book "From Birth to Backing" on It's a great reference guide and has a trouble shooting section and lots of photos. It's written by an English trainer, but the fundamentals are universal.

Also read these articles on horse maturation. Breaking a horse at 2 is just not a good idea. You can buy a yearling or two year old and spend the first years doing ground work, getting him used to a saddle, hand walking on the trail, ponying from a bomb proof horse, and doing everything else you should do before getting on, but I would not start real under saddle training until closer to 3yrs old or after 3yrs old. Those knees need to be good and closed and the hocks on their way to closing (usually 4-4.5 yrs old is when the hocks close). No hard work (like barrels, cutting, jumping, etc) until after 5yrs old, closer to 6. That is, if you want your new horse to be sound for life and riding and competing well into his mid to late 20s.
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