Breaking in a 4 year old!! :) P.S- Its long

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Breaking in a 4 year old!! :) P.S- Its long

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  • Breaking a 4 yr old mare
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    07-27-2010, 08:12 AM
Breaking in a 4 year old!! :) P.S- Its long

Right guys.. Thought id give you a half progress/half advice thread :)

A couple of weeks ago I got my horse Ricoh. He's a Thoroughbred X Welsh Section D, bay, 4 year old gelding and unbroken...

Anway, I first let him settle in for a couple of days as he was born where I got him from (been there all his life) and his mum was there also so he has literally done nothing but be in a field. Well he settled in really really well, has been really calm and put on some weight which is good. His mane and tail have gone a bit scabby from where the flys are bad here but that's been fixed and I need to get his hooves done but he's sound and happy. Him and the horse in the next field decided that they liked each other a lot and they broke through the electric taping so they are now in together which has made him much happier.

Well I have no saddle currently (should come today :)) as I was deciding what to get him and finding one within my budget, so I have mostly been working on ground manners and desensitising. He needed work on his manners especially his back up and he's improving but he does forget them sometimes when he gets distracted. He's also had plastic waved around him, a plastic bag on his back tied with baler twine round his tummy(to simulate a girth), a saddle rested on his back, and he's walked over and stood on tarpaulin :) I think he's doing really well but I was wondering if anyone knew of more groundwork I could do with him and more desensitising? Please don't say lungeing as I don't agree with it.

He also goes for walks inhand in the lanes by my yard and has seen bins,drains,people,dogs, hedge cutters and other horses. He gets a bit excited and sticks his head up but is excellent and comes to me for security when he's scared so very little shying. He's good with cars/vans coming from infront or behind on the wide main roads (very very quiet main road) and good with cars coming from infront on lanes but not from behind. He's getting better but I thought that maybe I should get someone to rev it behind him and come up close in the security of my yard to get him used to it plus my boyfriends car is really loud and has very loud music so he's going to hear that too.
Anyway, I was wondering what people thought I should do to get him used to cars coming from behind in narrow lanes as most lanes round here are narrow.
I also took him to the motorway bridge which goes over a road by my yard and he was good up to it and walking under it but when he got out the other side he bolted and ran loose up the road. I was really worried but he stopped and I caught him only we had to go under again to go back to the yard and he bolted again (he's soo strong). He respects me in terms of leading everywhere but it failed us here.
Its really dangerous as I nearly always have to ride under it to get everywhere. Does anyone have any ideas on how to get him used to it? It seems to be when it was behind him and he couldnt see it that he got scared.
I thought maybe taking some apple in a bucket and feeding him on the grass verge with his bum to the bridge. Any other ideas? I don't really want people to say a lead horse as he will mostly be ridden alone so I need to get him used to that and have him safe on his own.

I will hopefully get my saddle today so am thinking I will place it on him and get him used to it/check it fits then once settled(could be a couple of days) girth up and walk around, then I thought of loose lungeing him in a small paddock with it on so he could feel it at faster than a walk and get any bucks out :P Then it would be me leaning over, then getting on, then walking around and finally hacking out on road.
How does everyone else teach stopping/turning/go/back on a youngster?

Do you all think Im doing okay and please feel free to give me advice on things to do with him or what to do next.. Especially need help with the motorway bridge :)

Kudos to everyone who reads this

Sarah & Ricoh
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    07-27-2010, 09:53 AM
When starting a youngster I do a lot of groundwork. (I am not digging at you, but I am curious why you don't agree with lunging?) Leading and whoa are the first and foremost. They need to walk calmly and quietly beside me, not ahead or behind. When they get strong I set them back with a pop on the lead. Backing on the ground, I start by wiggling the lead. Often they will move back from it because they don't know what it is and when you praise them for doing so it reinforces the backing. If they don't automatically move back there are a few ways I've seen it handled. You can pop the lead and tell them back(I am a HUGE advocate for vocal commands, IMO it can only help when you go to get on him because he has an idea what you want from him, the cues haven't changed), get a "carrot stick" and slowly swing it in front of you as you walk toward them. I've seen some kinda stomp toward them to get the initial backing while wiggling the lead.
I taught my gelding the cue,"walk on" pretty young, it has helped a lot on the lunge and then when I started him under saddle. That way if he got sticky feet I could tell him to walk on and he knows I want him to slowly move off.
Whoa is something I constantly work on with most horses. Even if they seem to have a good stop I review it,lol. To make sure they have it I use a long rope and whoa them before backing away to the end of the rope and standing there. If they try to walk off I set them back with a pop on the lead immediately and whoa them again. You must be firm about this and not give in the slightest bit, Whoa is a BIGGIE and they HAVE to get it. If they continue to want to walk off back them quickly to exactly where you had them originally. As they improve I walk around both sides of them, back to the center, closer and farther, all the time keeping them whoa'd.

Do you have a bare back pad? That is what I typically use when introducing the saddle/girth. This way it's not as heavy and they get used to having something snug on their belly. After a few times I pull out the old endurance saddle and strap it on, I don't know if it actually makes a difference but it makes me feel better knowing if they should roll with it there is no horn(that has to be uncomfortable!). I would keep the line on him at first so that if he wigs out you have a way to control him a little. If he is fine let him loose in a confined area and watch him. He may buck and hollow out but he will figure it out. I find it helps to do other groundwork while they are wearing the saddle because it takes their mind off of the thing stuck to their back.
    07-27-2010, 10:42 AM
Thanks :) its not that I don't agree with lungeing, its more I prefer to long line(2 lines) because single line lungeing puts their balance out a bit and can create the wrong bend through their body due to it being unnatural. I can't really explain sorry :S that's bad.

Yeah well he's really good at walking and backing. Iv been doing that since I got him and correcting him the moment he doesnt move where I want him to. I also use voice commands so im hoping he'l back on command soon if I carry on being consistent because I feel that'll be really helpful :) Hope im making sense.
Thanks :)
    07-27-2010, 10:56 AM
Both the goodies under the bridge and a chain over his nose (just so when he bolts he hits the chain and stops - then praise him and make certain the chain is loostened (they can stay tight after engaging them).

Take your time - sounds like you've done a good job up to now working on his respect for you and his confidence in you. He's young but if this doesn't fix it then helping him adjust to new scary things with a buddy will help him learn to handle them on his own.
    07-27-2010, 11:13 AM
I wonder if walking him halfway under the bridge, turning him around and backing him out the other side (so he can see it the whole time) would help, to get him to see there's nothing scary there to eat him.

It sounds like you're doing a great job starting him off! Good luck to you two!
    07-27-2010, 12:50 PM
Thanks everyone! That's a great idea 'MuleWrangler' :) I will try that..
Im not sure what a chain is exactly? Do you think using a lunge line would be a good idea so if he bolts iv got a longer line to keep hold on him or do you think its more hassle than he's worth?

He's completely fine with a saddle on his back but do you think its okay to slowly and gently pull the girth up until its tight enough or do you think he'll explode? I don't think he will...

When I walk him out he's in a bridle but a headcollar underneath is how I lead him so he gets used to the bit with no pressure but I wondered if I should put the leadrope through the bit so I have the force of the bit too.

Can anyone reply with how they start their youngsters(basically), just because I'd like to see if im doing it right and compare it and maybe pick up other ideas.

Thanks everyone
    07-27-2010, 01:32 PM
Green Broke
^^ I wouldn't attach the lead to the bit. The pressure on that in a bolting horse makes me cringe. I don't believe in punishing a horse for being scared, and that's what that is. Sunny bolts when being led sometimes, so I lead her with a lunge line and GLOVES. She also has a chain on her nose when I don't use the lunge, but this is because she doesn't bolt out of fear, she bolts out of being a brat. Good luck!
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    07-27-2010, 01:40 PM
Green Broke
Forgot to add, this is what I have done with Sunbun so far(she's almost 2.5). When I first got her, she hadn't been handled much her whole life. She had(still has, at some points) poor leading skills, wouldn't pick up her back feet, wouldn't tie, hated fly spray, she all of that got fixed, with the exception of the leading issue that is being worked on now. She has had a saddle on since the first month I had her(I got her as a 20 month old). So, now she can be girthed up completely and is bridled, but she chomps the bit like crazy. She has been mildly sacked out with tarps, bags, etc. and we are about to take her to a round pen to work on respect. After she lunges well, we're going to longline. I've laid across her back once and she took it well, but she wasn't mentally ready, so we kept working. I'm thinking that once she's trained to longline and leads well I will begin to back her. It may be this fall or next spring. Whenever she tells me she's ready to progress. Good luck and be safe!
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    07-27-2010, 01:58 PM
I would either tie him or have the lead in your other hand and bit by bit tighten the girth. It doesn't have to be tight enough to actually mount at first, just so that it doesn't swing around and hang on his belly. If he gets tense just let him get used to it for a few and maybe walk him around until he is used to the feeling.

Personally I wouldn't use a chain in this situation, if he really had it in his mind to bolt it could do serious damage to his mouth/nose. Have you ever used a "training halter"? The rope halters with knots at the poll and bridge of the nose? I have found them to be pretty useful with a "strong" horse. There is also the "Be Nice" halter which has metal bits in place of the knots, but one has to be careful with them as I've read they can do damage at the poll. Try a training halter and a long line, at least that way you have a better chance of catching him so he doesn't get loose. Definitely use gloves though!
    07-27-2010, 02:00 PM
Helloz and 4 year olds I love them I love evrey horse in the world

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