"Backpacking" With a Yearling - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 3 Old 06-12-2009, 04:28 PM Thread Starter
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"Backpacking" With a Yearling

I've been tying a saddle pad with a lead rope to my yearling for about a month now. She didn't even blink when I put it on her the first time, and we walk about .5 a mile with it about three times a week, sometimes longer distances but nothing strenuous. Not overdoing, not underdoing. She's really a joy to be around, and is one of the best horses I've ever known, even though she is young. She is incredibly smart, was fully halter trained at a week old (despite being my first filly, and my first time halter training), and could longe at a walk at a month old. We've been through creeks, over and through tarps, she will even stand blindfolded (long story how I found that out), etc.

I spoke to a friend who has raised WAY more foals than I have about the next step to take. She recommended taking a cheap, small backpack, and tie it on top of the saddlepad. No weight in it, just adding the sensation of another layer on top of the pad. At a year and a half, add a small bit of weight (maybe 3lbs) and then slowly increase until saddling.

Does this sound insane? A good plan? Anyone have a better idea?

I'm looking for a way to take her training up just one step. I've been mixing things up, changing them every week for a solid year, and even with what I've come up with she's beginning to get bored. I'm hoping to get a few new ideas and techniques to keep her engaged. Any other ideas you might come up with are welcome, as well.

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post #2 of 3 Old 06-12-2009, 08:08 PM
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It sounds like a fine idea to me. At first I read your post as 'She's a yearling, and I want to put 30lbs on her...' xD

So long as you keep the weight very, very low she should be just dandy. I wouldn't put any serious weight onto her until at LEAST two years. Three pounds should really not do anything, considering how the young horse plays, leaps, and gets leaped on by another 600+ hyper horse and does not get damaged (normally).

Wait! I'll fix it....
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post #3 of 3 Old 06-12-2009, 08:45 PM
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I would just advise being careful at how much different things you "tie" to her just in case. You don't want her to do something silly, have everything slide, and then have a real problem on your hands when she's displays how unimpressed she is with a backback dangling under her belly.

I would advise trying to get your hands on a surcingle, as it does up just like a saddle on both sides, so you can tighten it properly and really get her used to the feeling of the pressure around her belly. In my experience, 99% of youngsters don't actually have any issue at all with the weight on their back, it's the doing up of the girth that makes them nervous. A surcingle is a really awesome way to imitate that feeling without having to put anything on their back.

And even then, at a year old, if you can get your hands on a very small, cheap, light English saddle, it's so light that it's a good time to start getting them used to it. I have this old beat up kid's saddle that I swear couldn't weigh more then 5lbs, and I started putting it on my Arab mare as a yearling, even though I didn't end up riding her until she was 4. It got so that she was SO used to being tacked up and worked from the ground by the time she was old enough to ride, it was just old hat to her already.

I hope God tells her to smash her computer with a sledgehammer.

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