How often does a young horse need to be ridden? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 09-04-2009, 06:59 PM Thread Starter
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How often does a young horse need to be ridden?

I have a 2 year old Standardbred x Tennessee Walking Horse mare. She has been under saddle for about 10 months (I didn't start her that young, bought her just a few months ago). I am bigger/older than the girl that had been riding and training her, so I decided to give her more growing time. I gave her several months off, and have just recently started riding her again. She is GREAT considering her age, with a very calm and laid back attitude. But she is still a young horse that is learning, and every now and then will throw a fit and buck a few times. When we ride often, she usually does well, but if I give her some time off she tends to have more trouble settling into a ride when we start riding again. What should I be doing with her? How often should I be riding her, and for how long at a time? My goal for now is just to have a steady, reliable trail horse. It is a very slight possibility that we will start showing her eventually, but for now I just want a good trail horse. Any advice? Thanks!
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post #2 of 15 Old 09-04-2009, 07:44 PM
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I really wouldn't want to put any consistent or hard riding on her until she is well over 3 years old. I like to ride my young horses every day. How long depends on how they behave and how their training is progressing. Some days I will spend about 20 minutes working circles to perfect their turns, keep their mouth soft, and teach neck reining. Other days, I will take them on a couple hour long ride through the country (usually done at a long trot or lope) then come home and spend about 10 minutes on arena type work. I just sent a 3 year old filly back to her owner and after only 11 rides, she was neck reining pretty well, was confident in w/t/c and had a fantastic stop.
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post #3 of 15 Old 09-05-2009, 02:21 AM
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2yo been ridden for 10 months?? Sounds like she's lucky to have found a new home! I agree with previous - I would be doing very little/light riding if any for another year - at least - maybe 2 or 3, depending on her physical maturity. Also remember that while saddle fit should generally be checked every 6 months or so, for a growing, changing youngster, I'd be checking & adjusting fit every 3 months or so max.

I'd be concentrating on your relationship, desensitising & 'attitude training' for now, which will no doubt keep you busy without riding.
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post #4 of 15 Old 09-05-2009, 02:39 AM
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I would not ride a horse at that age - you could seriously damage its bone structure which is still growing. I wouldn't start to ride a horse until it is rising 4 - I may get a younger horse used to someone on its back but only to be sat on for about 5-10 seconds once or twice a month, I certainly would not put a saddle on a horse at that age.
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post #5 of 15 Old 09-05-2009, 07:27 AM
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As she is already broken I would put her out until she is about three and a half if I were you, then bring her into consistent work.

When a horse is just beginning its ridden education its very important that you are consistent in your training. Once you make the decision to bring her into work then commit to being regular and consistent. For a few months make sure you have time to work with her every single day. That doesn't necessarily mean riding, you may take her for a walk in hand, teach her some yielding exercises etc. I personally don't like lunging horses until they are over four, although free lunging I do a bit of.

Once she is in work I would do probably 15 minutes of ground work (yielding, backing up - whatever you do) then maybe ride for 10 minutes. As your horse gets used to carrying a weight on its back you can begin to ride for longer periods. I'd make sure to do the groundwork every day, and ride her at least 4 -5 times a week. Try and ensure that you work with her everyday for at least 30 minutes outside of your general feeding, grooming, saddling etc. once she is in work.

I think she is way too young to be ridden regularly now. Sometimes people break in two year olds and ride them for a week or two and then put them out for a year. You don't bring pleasure horses into regular work until they are older, at least I think thats what is best for the horse, physically and mentally.
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post #6 of 15 Old 09-05-2009, 08:57 AM
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Agree with Saskia about consistency of training - of whatever age horse.

I disagree with the idea of 'turning a horse away' to mature. Sure you can, but why not have fun with her now, teach her to have fun with you, get her used to all the other stuff she's going to have to deal with & learn, rather than waiting another year or 2. After all, you're still going to have to deal with her for hoofcare, worming, possible emergencies, etc anyway, so a strong, ongoing relationship is always a plus. Not to mention the physical aspects of giving her regular exercise, which paddock ornaments rarely get anything like enough of.

Regarding working with her every day, while this might be desirable if your aim is to get the horse going as quickly as possible(which you might be keen for if she's been just stewing in the paddock for a long time), it's by no means necessary - aside from not being practical or possible for many people with commitments besides their horse. Obviously the more training, the better she'll become, whatever the time frame. So I wouldn't feel you need to do it intensively, unless you want to.
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post #7 of 15 Old 09-05-2009, 12:17 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks to all for the advice! I don't have a round pen, so what kind of exercises could I be doing with her? Do I have to have a round pen?
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post #8 of 15 Old 09-05-2009, 07:42 PM
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I don't have a round pen atm, don't see much point. Corners don't bother me & can be handy, IMO. I have a smallish(about 20m across) yard that I regularly use, but mainly for the convenience of the horses staying close when I'm busy doing something else but going to come back to them. I do sometimes make a portable round(ish) pen from elec fence posts & (disconnected) tape, if I'm wanting a pen in another area or in situations that the horse may be distracted when I want to play! The main point of me making it rounded is because it seems less pressure on the posts when the tape is taught(to deter my horse who 'respects' the boundary so long as I'm around!).

I prefer to 'work' with my horses without 'strings attached', especially to begin with, wherever it's safe to do so(often in their paddock). I find that if they know the can just walk away, they're more likely to stay, even when under some 'pressure', and of course it keeps me on my toes, because I have to approach things in the right way for them to want to stay & play with me. I've found Carolyn Resnick and also Alexander Nevzorov are people you can look up that have a similar approach to mine.

Regarding what you can do with her, basically your imagination's the boundary! For starters, think about all the things she needs to be good at asap, such as hoof care, general handling & manners, desensitising to various things & situations(like travelling). But I believe creating a good, willing attitude is by far the most important lesson, so that she wants to play your games, trust you, learn whatever you want to teach her.... Especially for that purpose, I find 'clicker training' principles(google it) are invaluable & teaching fun stuff like tricks are helpful, not only for the horse's education, but also for yours, in practicing getting precise & specific about aims & timing.
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post #9 of 15 Old 09-05-2009, 07:51 PM
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Absolutely develop her on the ground for a while longer. Teach her to back easily, to hold her foot for you, to turn and face up, to yield off of pressure and to send when you give her a direction.

This will ensure that she understands her responsibility to you well before you get on her back.

Good luck.

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post #10 of 15 Old 09-05-2009, 08:59 PM
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You don't want to be too persistent. It stresses them out and really irks them. I would ride maybe like every weekend until she's totally comfortable with you on and when my horse was three I rode every day for a month doing nothing strenuous.

"Doing what you like is freedom, liking what you do is happiness."
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