How do i begin breaking my two year old? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 04-26-2011, 06:02 PM Thread Starter
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How do i begin breaking my two year old?

I bought a two year old a couple months ago with the promise from my trainer that she would help me train her, but she is no longer my trainer. I have a new one that is willing to help me, but i need to get Elsie in the trailer before i can take her to lessons...
She has already had a saddle on and didn't care at all. Ive tightened the cinch all the way and lead her around, she doesn't care at all. Shes a very calm baby. Shes a frenchmans guy baby, i will be training her for barrels.
So, what are some things i should be doing with her before i can get her to my trainers?
How do i teach her to lunge? Should i work on getting her used to a bit or wait for that? If yes, how should i go about that?
Should i work on getting on her?
My trainer will help me do all of the riding training for sure, but i would kind of like her to know the basics before i take her to lessons, so any help will be great!
I know this situation isn't the best since this is the first horse ive ever completly trained, and it wasn't my original intention for it to go this way.
Any help would be great!

Last edited by LadyDocHickory; 04-26-2011 at 06:05 PM.
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post #2 of 7 Old 04-26-2011, 07:19 PM
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I vote....don't saddle train!

At two years old, she's VERY much a baby. In my opinion, saddle breaking a two year old is like teaching a five year old algebra. Some will take to it like a duck to water, others could do with another five to eight years. I wouldn't even mention hard barrel work (consistently trotting, cantering, and galloping) until at least 3.5-4 years. Possibly even five years old.

I highly suggest working her on the ground, perhaps 10-30 minuets a day, until she is three or even four years old. Show her flags and tarps and bells and whistles, talk with her about it. Discuss this scary, spooky thing on the ground. Let her know that your completely okay with it, that your at ease and it's nothing to worry about.

I waited until my gelding was five before sending him to the trainer and I am very, very, pleased with how he has come along, compared to his temperament at two years old when I purchased him.
At two years old, he'd likely be cowering behind his hay bale in fear of the trainer taking him out to work, regardless how gentle my trainer is.

At five years old, he's matured enough to look at problem or a frightening object, such as a tarp or a horse trailer, and come at it in a thoughtful way.
At two years, the horse trailer was a pit of terror filled with snakes and things that go bump in the night.
At five years old, the horse trailer is an area that contains grain. Stretching for grain is uncomfortable, but stepping into the trailer equals more comfort. Standing with your legs stretched out is uncomfortable, putting hind legs into trailer equals comfort.
Henceforth, walking into the horse trailer equals comfort, grain, and cookies. If it moves, thumps, rattles and bangs, who cares? I have grain and cookies and this delicious pile of hay to strew about.

A lot of people who compete saddle train their horses at two years old because they want to get maximum show time out of them. They want to enter them in the younger classes which may or may not equal more ribbons.

This is really the incorrect way to do it. Just think about those young joints and muscles, think about the mind set of a two year old horse (grass, cookies, play time). They DO need time to develop mentally and physically as a horse, and not be put to work at the first possible moment.

Three is really the youngest age I would suggest beginning any real saddle work. At two years old, you can put the saddle on, cinch it, take it off, bit up, etc. etc. etc. IF they are MENTALLY ready for it. You wouldn't just throw a Wallstreet business man into the the jungle, you'd probably wait till he's mentally (and possibly physically) ready for it.

But hard work and actual riding should really not be attempted until they've mentally-and physically- reached that point ;D

I'm not bashing anyone who owns a horse trained at two, or who trains their horses at two. I just don't agree with it, and don't see the harm in waiting another one or two years before swinging up and asking them to do serious work.
Like I said, some take to it like a duck to water. Others, like my Red Man, need a little more time to stop seeing monsters in the shadows and start taking things more seriously.

Wait! I'll fix it....
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post #3 of 7 Old 04-26-2011, 07:19 PM
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Truthfully, I think you should work on simple stuff like ground manners and desensitizing. Getting her perfectly fine with being touched and patted all over and leading well will help the trainer more than you know. I wouldn't advise trying to ride her by yourself because a bad first session under saddle can cause a lot of lasting issues.

I hope it goes well for you and congrats on the horse. Welcome to the forum too.
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post #4 of 7 Old 04-26-2011, 07:37 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you very much for the answers so far!
Shes actually not even two yet, not until may. I was originally planning on waiting a while into the summer to get on her, and i WILL NOT run her on barrels until she is five. Waiting until she is three to ride her actually sounds like a good idea. By then i might be more ready to do all of that also because ill know more. I dont want to overwhelm her or teach her wrong!
Ive been working on walking over tarps and over logs and planks, my 9 year old has an intense fear of spray bottles, so ive spent a lot of time with baby Els on that, also with the hose. So far she hasn't been afraid of anything ive introduced to her. She hesitated at the tarp but walked right over, both ways, didnt hesitate at all the second time. She walked over a wooden plank without hesitating, she doesn't care about having polos wrapped on front or back legs, doesnt care about having boots on, shes had english and western saddles on and doesn't care. The most enjoyable part for her was trying to eat the sturrip on my western
Overall shes a very calm horse:)
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post #5 of 7 Old 04-26-2011, 08:10 PM
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Agreed, just keep doing what you're doing, sounds as if she trusts you Just don't get on her (or lunge her, not great for growing joints) until she is at least three, and don't do hard or fast work until she is at least four. The slower you take it the better, patience at this stage pays off in the future
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post #6 of 7 Old 04-27-2011, 08:05 PM
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Keep doing what your doing. Work on her giving to pressure a bit with just the halter. If she gives the nose easy now it will be that much easier when she is ready to get on. Work on being able to move her feet where you want them to go not nessicarily where she wants them. Get her bending in the body and staying supple. All this stuff will help when it is finally time to get on her and it all can be done fairly easily and safely for you and the horse with alittle time and patience. Remember horses don't learn from the pressure. They learn by the release of pressure. So release that pressure anytime there is some try. I won't be right the first time but it will get there. If you do that your trainer will have an easy go of it.
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post #7 of 7 Old 04-27-2011, 09:09 PM
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It sounds like you are going to have a great relationship with her. Because of all the groundwork I put into my 2yo last year we have a great relationship under saddle now. He can read my mind I swear! That was because we worked together, played together and relaxed together. He learned to respect me and my space and I learned a LOT about horses! Groundwork, Groundwork, Groundwork. It there is a groundwork exercise out there that makes sense to you do it. Go for long walks together everywhere you would want to ride. It will build muscles and confidence for both of you.

That is MHO at least. It really worked for me. It sounds like your horse probably doesn't need to wait to 5 before you ride her, but waiting a summer can't hurt, and it will feel seamless and more natural than trying to make her ready for something she isn't.
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