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Green Trainer/Green Horse

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    12-04-2008, 04:11 AM
I can speak truly from experience. While I did not buy/breed a foal and train it from the ground up (which IMO is much easier than taking a truly green three year old and starting from scratch with a horse who is 800lbs heavier than a foal and even more unpredictable)..

My Christmas present last year was a very promising green (as in she had been groomed, stood for the farrier, and lead to and from the pasture to the barn, no other formal training whatsoever) filly. I had never worked with a completely green horse before, but had about 7-8 years of experience with horses and foals on my trainers farm. I've ridden and driven her two and three year olds at various stages of their training (even a few who would be considered fairly green broke, but they all had sweet dispositions). I've watched her training and listened to her philosophy basically the whole 7-8 years she had been teaching me to ride.

Learning to understand horses isn't just about riding them or exploring them, its about observing them. Observing them with trainers, observing them on their own. They are all unique, and no matter how well you handle a horse when its a foal its still going to grow up to have a very unique personality, its true the more you handle them the better they are as they get older, but its been my experience that their personalities as foals tell nothing of the horse they grow in to be. We have a two year old at the barn who as a foal literally dragged me a few hundred yards uphill to go back to the barn, at the time my trainer thought she was going to have her hands full with her.. and she did for awhile.. but once she was weaned she was much calmer and from what I can tell she's pretty pleasurable to work with. (She's been off work for a few months due to a pasture injury... she may not be quite as mentally sound as we think hahahah)

Anyway my point is, there is no telling the type of horse your going to embark on if you get it when its six months old.. You could have a very calm and tolerable horse at that age, and once it matures and realizes its strength could be a different animal.

My filly was a little nuts from the start. I've always considered myself a good rider, my trainer was in full support of me getting this three year old and embarking on the journey.. and up until recently (almost a year later) I doubted myself almost every step of the way. She broke countless sets of cross ties, her cast iron feed tub, pulled me off my gelding when I was ponying her, bucked me off one of the first times I was riding her (it was my third time riding her), sent a hoof toward my head, reared and bucked under saddle countless times.. and in all honesty, she's relatively sane. She's definitely not a beginner horse, but in general training her was not all that difficult compared to some horses (or even colts). Again, I didn't have her first three years to work with her, and I think she would have been a lot more calm and trusting at that point.

The first maybe 6-8 months of her training had to be about building trust, which I didn't realize at first. I knew she didn't understand why I was doing these things to her, but I thought a lot of it had to do with her disposition... Her instinct, I think, was overpowering her demeanor. She's normally a very curious and sweet horse who loves to show off. She was scared and confused and quite a few times I found myself jumping from rock to rock instead taking the baby steps required to get to each rock. I didn't do anything mentally traumatizing to her, but my ignorance cut us both short of the experience a little bit. As in, we achieved certain milestones negatively when they could have been done so positively.

Now, I'm in college so I can't ride her as much as I want.. but the last few times I've ridden her she's been amazing. She hasn't lost much, if any, of her training and she's been a lot more levelheaded then her usual somewhat nuts self. I think that's because she's comfortable and understands what I want from her now and we're beginning to form a trust relationship.

One big trouble you will have, is figuring out how to react to bad behaviors. Like if they kick at you or bite you. Everyone will tell you something different. Some say don't hit them by the mouth, they'll get headshy.. Others say don't hit at all just be aggressive with your tone.. Others are in favor of physical punishment for a physical wrong. In all honesty, I believe it depends on the horse. Some horses are extremely UNsensitive (which is not a word) but could care less if they get hit, will never get headshy.. actually bite for the attention hitting gets them, etc.

Honestly, occaisionally my gelding will send a little nip my way and I give him a smack on the nose. He doesn't care, he's not head shy and the biting subsides until he gets a little ballsy again (usually days or weeks later). My filly though, is already naturally headshy. I'm sure I could give her a little smack with no change, but a "little" smack defeats the purpose... she would barely feel it and it wouldn't register as a punishment. If I really gave her the smack that would startle her enough to not bite me again, I think she would become even more headshy, so I make a big commotion with my voice and either give a little yank on the lead or hit her barrel or butt which she doesn't mind at much.. but it still registers as "oh I better not do that again.."

Anyway my point is, there is a lot more to it than it looks. You have to have a LOT of patience. They will do things with no intention of being bad and you get faced with a lot of predicaments... You find yourself taking more steps backwards than forwards a lot of times. If you do it, you have to be able to commit fully, especially with a foal. Foals get feral quickly! They need daily handling, touching, rubbing, grooming, hoof picking, etc. A good breeder will have weaned a foal that already grooms, will stand for a farrier, even clip with clippers and have basic ground manners down.

The first day I had my mare, I lunged her a little bit (which she never did before, and was surprisingly fine with.. [you'd be surprised how some horses don't get the running-in-a-circle-around-you] she picked up the voice commands quite quickly and I didn't even need a whip (holding up a whip sent her into the fastest semi-gallop she could muster on such a small circle.. no matter how many times I showed her the whip or rubbed her with it, or let her smell it.. now she doesn't mind it as much but if I lash it, she goes!).. anyway I lunged her for a few minutes each way.. then let her loose in the arena and just observed her. She showed off for a long time before I finally caught her. Trotted fancily, galloped, etc. I still have pictures from that day I took of her.

I'm getting lengthy haha, or I was like 6 paragraphs back. Anyway I think the decision is yours. Before you embark I would suggest getting as much as experience as you can. Ride every type of horse you can, make sure you can ride a buck, a rear (I'm not saying instigate a buck or anything), you can stop a horse trying to gallop away with you (especially if you have trails), your confident in lunging and long-lining (many people don't long-line before they ride, but I wouldn't ride a horse who wasn't at least a decent long-liner.. they learn to hold the bit in their mouth, themselves, basic stopping and turning, three speeds at the trot, voice commands, trust, turning on a rein, etc.)...

I highly suggest taking long-lining lessons!! I never really did it before I got my mare, but I took a few lessons then I did it with my gelding until I got comfortable.. Long-lining probably saved me from getting bucked off several times... just because she was used to the bit and carrying it in her mouth, she was sound with all kinds of weird equipment on her, she didn't mind side reins or a martingale (I longlined her with a martingale before I rode her with one) you can test a lot of equipment in a bitting harness.. you can tell their personalities, you can teach them the idea of the rail and turning. You can put them in a bitting harness as late yearlings, and by the time you saddle them they can have a good year give or take of steering, stopping, turning, circling, going in straight lines, etc. which you have no idea how much it helps unless your deprived of it. (I had about two-three good months and it still helped a lot, but we would make random turns for no reason or confusion about stopping)

Anyway I keep diverting.

My opinion is if its what you want, go for it! Make sure you're ready mentally, physically, emotionally and experience wise for it. You have to have a lot of patience, you have to have the backing of a good trainer. (My trainer gave me a lot of advice and guidance and I had a lesson with her at least once a week.. up to three times a week with my mare.. which helped tremendously) Your going to doubt yourself, so be prepared. :P Honestly coming here for advice is sometimes worst than listening to your gut, just because everyone has a different style and a different way of approaching it. It does help as a last resort, but I would listen to your trainer first and foremost.

Good luck! :)
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    12-04-2008, 07:38 AM
Red face


I know im new here but I have some thoughts on the matter.

I have been riding for only 4 years and not alot of experience with horses, well apart from looking after abused horses and re-backing an older horse.

But I last month bought a 2 and 4 month old horse. Granted she had already done alot of groundwork like had a saddle and bridle on and been lunged etc.

But nevertheless I've already trained her alot like how to stand, follow, be lead properly, respect my space etc. And I love her and training her, I don't know alot but im learning with her.

I have already lay on her back and she didnt even move a muscle! She can loose jump. (although I never make her jump as she's still growing) I love training her and learning with her and im so glad I don't by a horse already backed because this way I can mould her the way I want without trying to fix someone elses mistakes.

Yes ill make mistakes now and then with her but its all a new learning curve and its amazing already seeing her develop and mould. It can get a little frustrating with youngsters but its all part of the fun! You just have to learn to take a deep breath and remember she's still a baby.

But you also need to learn that even though she is still a baby that you still need a firm hand with them. I find Cruz very easy to train, she's so willing to learn and she so easily accepts things. I thought it would be alot more difficult to train a youngster than what it is!

She used to barge me when I came in with food or water and in just 2 days it was fixed and now she backs up for her food!

As far as I see it .... horses are like babies and well mothers don't need to have a teenager to have enough experience to teach and look after a baby do they? They manage even though alot of them are terrofied and don't know what there doing. So as far as im concered its just the same.

It is handy though to have someone that has "been there got the t-shirt" if you need adive and help though.
    12-04-2008, 08:06 AM
Cruz, welcome to the forum.

I'm glad you are having good experiences from the 2 foals you have but I need to give you a some warning. You seem to be moving too fast with your little ones. Bitting, saddling them and laying across their backs is way way too early, let alone lunging them.

At this early stage you could be causing more harm then good especially in their growth and bone development.

Just a little advise.
    12-04-2008, 09:56 AM
I am very carfeul with her, the lunging and tack etc was done before I bought her - not me.

I have lunged her once since I bought her because I was to do it 1nc a month to keep it in her memory and she has never been cantered on a lunge because of her bone and its only 5 minutes each side when I did it in walk and I circle of trot so she remembers the command! Lol.

The rest of the time I just do loose ground work with her like following and sending her away with voice commands etc.

I lay on her back just to put a little pressure of (not full weight) im only 7 stone anyways but only did this to get an idea of what level they had trainer her too as the last owner put a 4 year old on her back!!!

She has been doing very little, if any work. Im very aware of how much of a baby she is and very careful with her.

She is actually on 10 days box rest at the minute due to an accident in the field. :( she got attached by other horse and we couldnt stop it :( )
    05-15-2009, 06:41 PM
I think a foal for your first horse is a huge risk. The likelihood of you succeeding is extremely low (although not impossible...). If you were to succeed, yes it would be incredible and it is incredible to be first on a horse's back, but you're risking ruining the foal's life, hurting yourself, or anything the other's have mentioned. It's not worth it, in my opinion.
HOWEVER, I think I know what you're getting at with this question, and I think you have some other "special bond options" out there (especially if you're already willing to learn with a trainer). Why don't you look into adopting a rescue horse? Either an OTT standardbred that's been started under saddle, or maybe an older horse that's really calm that's only green broke, or maybe even a well broke horse and teach it something new like driving.
I learned a LOT about riding a horse by having a trainer help me teach a western horse english.
I think green+green can work out if it's the right amount of green. A foal is soooo much work, and if you have a job that doesn't involve being around your foal all day the progress you make will be minimal
    05-15-2009, 11:05 PM
I also had your thoughts of growing and bonding with a green horse when I was green myself. Believe me, We Humans who think this way might not understand how horses think. Horses are looking for leaders who are confident in whats goin on. I had to learn this the hard way. Also, it might be harder than you think to find a good trainer willing to cater to your wishes. Im not sayin you can't do it. I just wish I would have worked my way down to the youngsters. If anything for safety sake.
    05-16-2009, 03:29 AM
Everyone and every advice forum that I looked at told me that a green rider shouldn't get a green horse.

But I fell in love(really good bond) with a little 2 yr old filly and I'm training her now, I'm 13 years old and a decent rider but no where near expeirenced. I have people helping me and a very calm, paitent 2 yr old to help me, But if you find a horse that you have a special bond with then I say take the risk!
    05-16-2009, 04:17 AM
Originally Posted by iridehorses    
Cruz, welcome to the forum.

I'm glad you are having good experiences from the 2 foals you have but I need to give you a some warning. You seem to be moving too fast with your little ones. Bitting, saddling them and laying across their backs is way way too early, let alone lunging them.

At this early stage you could be causing more harm then good especially in their growth and bone development.

Just a little advise.

I think when she said "2 and 4 month horse" she meant one horse that is 2 years and 4 months old - not two foals. I thought the same thing when I read it the first time.

Though I might be wrong there.
    05-16-2009, 08:23 AM
Originally Posted by LeahKathleen    
I think when she said "2 and 4 month horse" she meant one horse that is 2 years and 4 months old - not two foals. I thought the same thing when I read it the first time.

Though I might be wrong there.
Looking back at it, I think you are right. Huge difference isn't it!?
    05-16-2009, 02:35 PM
No kidding, ha ha. At first I was thinking... hm... lunging and saddling and laying on foals? OH DEAR.

A 2 and a half year old is a little bit different, lol.

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