Too early to start him?

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Too early to start him?

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  • 3 too early to start a horse
  • Starting horses too early

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    07-17-2010, 05:20 PM
Too early to start him?

I've started sitting on my icelandic colt a few days ago. He'll be 3 years this winter.

Most people say icelandics mature later and shouldn't be ridden at all untill they're 4-5.. but concidering that all horses, skeleton wise, mature at the same age I don't really buy that. I just think it's a cultural thing; if you have a herd of hundred or more semi wild horses, why hurry to start them at 3?

Anyway.. I'm not really for starting a horse under saddle too early, but I think that if I sit on him now and walk him a bit (maybe 3-10 minutes every second day or so) before he goes into the next growth period, then he'll have something to think about untill next time when he's filled out more and such. And I think a slight training now will make him grow stronger too.

He's been really good this far, stands quietly when I crawl up on his back and everything. No bucks, nothing. He tries to eat grass *lol* but that's all. He's started to respond to the cues for going forward (he has been pulling a cart before but I don't feel experienced enough to drive him alone and I don't have anyone who is experienced enough that can come often enough to keep him up to date on it). He responds great on steering with my legs and I'm proud of him.
Also, since I started sitting on him, he has started to come up to me in the pasture instead of just waiting for me to get to him. Even left the other two horses at times. :)

But what do you think, am I rushing things too much, riding him before he's 3 years old? It's not like I must do it, I have another horse to train, but I want to.. He's quite even in his body right now but I believe he'll fill out more soon and perhaps get a bit taller too.,.
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    07-17-2010, 06:02 PM
Green Broke
How tall is he? I don't think it's too early, so long as you don't overdo it. And saddling wouldn't really hurt. My friend n I have been training our 2 fillies together (both 2-year-olds) as well as my yearling & they've all be "sacked out" or desensitized to the saddle blankets & saddle starting when they were 6 months. We haven't bridled them yet. They're doing great & really becoming friendlier (surprisingly lol). My friend's just started getting on her filly & she's doing awesome to, although she won't start any serious riding until next summer, when she's 3. Just getting her used to weight, as you said.
    07-17-2010, 06:20 PM
He's not very tall, a bit over 13hh. Iceys are usually carrying grown up men even if they're that small though, and I'm just 160cm tall myself, so I don't believe that's an issue. :3

I've been sitting on him bareback now, I feel that's safer and better, especially as I don't really have a saddle that fits great. He has a short back. And I use a halter, but he's also worked in hand and driven with a riding cavesson, and has had a bit in his mouth but not really used it or worked with it yet. He's had a harness on, of course, and also saddle. Has been trained to load, hold feet, being groomed, bathed and know how to bow. Been ponied every day since we bought him since we ride one horse to the pasture and have the other two walking beside. He grew up in a herd on iceland, and lives most of his days in a fairly big pasture with our other two horses.

Another reason I want to start riding him a bit is to half walk, half ride the shorter trail we have, where he'll meet a few mares and I get a chance to learn how he'll behave arund them as well as letting him know how I want him to behave. I rather not geld him unless I get a problem with him :)
    07-17-2010, 06:44 PM
We rode our gaited horses at 3 but only for short periods of time (15-30 min)and only at a walk.
They are now 4 and we still hold riding time down to 1 hour.
    07-17-2010, 06:57 PM
I would just sit on him around them pen, make sure he will sit around & take the bit/ saddle.
Just do little things with him. Work on turning, just make sure that you aren't on him long, 15-30 mins everyday or so.

Hope it all works out!
    07-18-2010, 01:31 AM
Three is definitely not too young, provided that he is mentally ready. I backed my gelding at two, got my forward cues and turning down, walked and trotted with a little canter. Turned him back out for the winter, restarted at three. Then he was gelded, got 2 weeks of just turn out and light walking, and was back to work. He went on his first trail rides that year and got him solid w/t and fairly solid canter. Now this past year at four, he's in real work.

I think you'll be fine. :)
    07-18-2010, 02:13 AM
Thanks, it's nice to hear :)

I'm sure he's mentally ready, actually I think he needs to work a bit to not get too bored. Unfortunatly we don't have any young horses to play with, just the two adults.. not that they don't play :P

At the moment I keep my 'rides'' to 5-10 monutes and intend to keep doing that :) I rather ride a young horse 2x15 minutes than 1x30 minutes per day, since their attentionspan isn't that trained yet and everything's new :)
    07-21-2010, 06:24 PM
That sounds like far too early to do any real work.

Sure getting him halter proof and doing ground work and maybe sit on him a bit when he's three but then I'd take his shoes off and put him in a herd on a mountain for a few months so he can build his muscles and get better with his feet going over rough terrain and be a proper horse in a semi wild herd again. It's a big part of forming their characters really.

Once he's 4 you can get started some more and get the basics down and then 5 is when you can start asking him for things for real.

2 year old Icelandic horses are way too young to be really asked for anything much. They're still just babies and should just be learning horse social skills and how to carry themselves over various terrain. If you go on a proper multi day horse trip it'd be good to let him run in the herd, that really teaches the young ones to travel in a herd that's being driven and cross rivers and all that.

Er.. having typed all that I realised you're in Sweden and things are probably completely different over there. No mountains and no herds. Still I think 2 is way too young to do anything much.

Then again I've been taught to not really touch the horses at all, you barely want any human contact until they're 3 to build the "mountain wise" character and spirit and letting them grow up as horses. I know people who didn't do that and ruined their horse but they didn't really know what they were doing either.
    07-21-2010, 09:45 PM
Green Broke
Originally Posted by Siggav    
Then again I've been taught to not really touch the horses at all, you barely want any human contact until they're 3 to build the "mountain wise" character and spirit and letting them grow up as horses. I know people who didn't do that and ruined their horse but they didn't really know what they were doing either.
I'm curious, how do you handle a relatively wild horse at the age of 3 with their size and strength if they've had next to no human contact for those 3 years and ran wild?
I'd really love to know.
It's very interesting.
    07-21-2010, 10:30 PM
I hardly think proper handling of a young horse is going to ruin him; yes, if you have 100s of acres, and plenty of other horses to ride, then fine, leave your colts alone til they are a little older; get the ground work done, and just let them grow up. However, that said, "most" people don't have the luxury of owning that much acreage, and most folks only have 1 or 2 horses, so their colts get worked earlier. As long as it's done in a proper fashion, I see nothing wrong with it...and I don't think it causes a horse to "not" become a horse...he already IS a horse, and nothing you can do is going to change that.

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