Originally Posted by trailhorserider View Post
How many years of experience does one NEED to train a horse? I ask this as an honest question. I have a similar amount of experience (well, I've been riding/owning for 17 years) but have never trained a horse either. It is A LOT harder than I ever dreamed it would be, but so far I am moving along okay. My foal is just a yearling, so there is only so far I can progress right now anyway. I do hope to hire a trainer when the time comes. But I have also thought about doing it myself. It depends on how far along we are when he is riding age. Right now I still have a couple years to ponder it while I work on ground manners and ponying him out.
But is this something that someone has to be doing for like 20+ years to accomplish? Or is someone being an owner and riding almost everyday for 10+ years give you enough experience?
I imagine a lot has to do with the disposition of the horse.
I personally hate it when people assign a number value to how many years you should have been riding before training a green horse. It is a total pet peeve of mine. For years I was told that I was going to "ruin" my horses because I wasn't working with a trainer. Well, since then I have trained several of my own horses and even re-trained a horse for someone else, and these horses are far from "ruined." In fact, they work much better than the horses of the "trainer" at the time.
I think of it as kids in math class. You may have some that are ready to move on to a new concept in 1 day, some it may take 1 week, 1 month, and some may never become proficient in math. What you need to train a horse is patience, riding skill, confidence, intelligence, and good old common sense. Of course, this is for your average horse. There will always be those special cases that require more experience and skill than others. Also, you will only be able to train your horse to the extent of your skills. You won't train your horse to become a grand prix jumper if you are not a grand prix rider, but that is not to say that you can't train him to your current level within your discipline. However, horse training is not some celestial skill that is given only to a select few.
To the OP, assuming your horse knows basic commands from the ground, I'd have a friend lead your horse as you ride. You will use your commands in the saddle in conjunction with your friend cueing the horse from the ground. Eventually, your friend will ask softer and softer, and eventually step away from the horse altogether. This should slowly condition your horse to take the aids from you instead of the handler on the ground. A safe ring with the least distractions possible would be ideal for this task.