Too soon to train?

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Too soon to train?

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    01-08-2013, 02:54 PM
Too soon to train?

So how soon is too soon to train a foal? I have a 7 month old colt that I've been working with. He had to be weaned from his dam at 2.5 months because she was in bad shape. So I halter broke him, tied, and got him picking up his feet within a week. He's bigger now so I've been working with him. I taught him the basics of lunging (4 ten minute sessions total) but read that its bad for them. So im switching to ground driving. He's worn a hat, its no problem to put a blanket on, I've put string in his mouth, I've even put a light saddle on him and girthed it up. But no serious work. When he's a yearling ill pony him behind my mutt horse on short rides. And ill tack him up for those. When he's two I may introduce him pulling a small two wheeled cart but I'll ground drive him for no longer than 15 minutes. When he's three ill introduce some weight to the saddle and take him on trail rides and along to the shows and things. By three ill be driving him while sitting in the cart. At 4 ill ride in the saddle. That is my plan. If you see anything wrong with it please share your opinion with me in a nice, non condescending way.

Another thing, I have an acquaintance that has a 1.5 year old draft STUD. She's naive. Someone told her it was okay to sit on her yearling and ride him at a walk once or twice around a small ring because 'he's so big he can handle the weight'. I thought draft horses matured slower because they were so large!! So Im terrified she's going to take it too far (like she's done in the past) and break this colt before he's even become a horse. Anyone have an opinion on starting drafts?
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    01-08-2013, 03:32 PM
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I would never sit on a horse, any horse before it was 3 yrs old.

I don't lunge much before then either, much better to just let them be babies and keep handling to basic leading, picking up hooves etc.
goneriding and Thunderspark like this.
    01-08-2013, 03:38 PM
I personally let my babies be babies until they're around 18-24 months. At that point they get introduced to saddle and bridle, light lunging(no more than 5-10 minutes at a clip). By the time they're 2-2 1/2, depending on the horse, I will have started sitting on them and having someone lead me around the ring as I introduce turning and stopping cues. Once those are good to go I put maybe 1-2 rides a week, lots of walking, bending, learning leg pressure, etc. A little trotting and a few rides will include a slow lope down the long side of the ring. I may take them on a short trail ride with a steady eddy by the end of summer. After that the get put back out for the winter to be babies again, and once spring hits I start work again with a refresher and continue on from there.
    01-08-2013, 04:19 PM
I have to see my little man every day or else I get withdrawals. So I work with him some. Ideally, I would have left him with his mother until the age he's at now...but that didn't happen.

As for the other girl...I just don't even know what to say.
    01-08-2013, 04:40 PM
Please don't take this as condescending or attacking you. This is genuine concern and it will make you a better horse handler. I've started many colts over the years I even have two that I plan on making barrel horses one day you can see them in my horses. I think your working him a little too much at 7 months you don't want to stress out his joints he's only 7 months old why are you bothering ground driving that's for when they are around 2. You could make his mouth hard before you even start riding him. No more things in his mouth and making him drive. He has teeth coming in still and I'm sure his mouth is sore enough on its own with out you making it worse and you could also cause sores with that string..... Please don't do that anymore. As for putting things on his back how heavy is that saddle? Do not tighten the girth all the way I would hold the girth in your hand and let him feel it under his chest that's all, you could possibly fracture his ribs, but before that if that saddle is more than 10 15 pounds don't put it on at all. Do NOT tack your horse up and if you pony him it should be at a walk or slow trot for a very short period of time like 10 or 15 minutes. You got to understand you can't be putting weight on thier back till they are in thier two and for some in thier threes because you could damage this horses joints, mouth, legs, spine, other bones permanently! I understand you can't wait till his big enough to ride but you gotta be patient!!!!

Ok so this is what you need to be doing with your young baby. If you want to put things on the colts back make it light things blankets or maybe a small tarp extremely light things only! Thier little spines are delicate. You should just be picking up thier feet. Teaching them to yield thier fore and hind quarters to you touch and voice if you like, teaching them to respect your space and other general good manners and respect, maybe lead them around a busy place like a rodeo get then used to sights and sounds, desensitizing to whip a little bit, you can also teach then to join up which can help establishing a mental halter if your interested I can tell you how to start that if you like . Gentle easy things when he's around 2 then you can start working on the saddle and the ground driving, putting a snaffle in thier mouth, ponying with a light saddle, maybe sit on thier back a few minutes. But that depends on the horse some horses have immature bodies even at two sometimes you gotta wait till they are around 3 and three is when it's safer with thier joints to ride anyways. Also it's fine to go out and pet the baby and stuff but if they have pretty good manners and handling I usually stop messing with them as much and turn them out with mature adult horses which will also give them great life lessons. Then once every week or two do short refresher sessions, but I visit and pet and ask for thier respect everyday when they are loose in the field. Remember your baby is a baby both physically and mentally. Be gentle and be safe. If you have anymore questions feel free to ask even PM me if you don't want to ask over the whole forum. I love taking about babies
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    01-08-2013, 04:49 PM
I don't consider that attacking. Thank you for your genuine concern. The saddle is the lightest one I have. 10 pounds max. It goes on, is clinched up loosely, and is taken right off. The string is the same. Goes in, he just sits there like 'really mom', and I take it out. If I ground drive him, it's in his halter. I will not put a bit in until his teeth are finished coming in. I realize he's a baby so I don't spend more than ten minutes doing any of this with him. And it's not every day. I enjoy teaching him tricks and he loves the attention. Since he's a colt he only gets supervised 'play hour' with my mares. I'm trying to find him a gelding to be his pasture mate. Harder than it should be in this economy!
Thunderspark likes this.
    01-08-2013, 04:58 PM
Originally Posted by RubieLee    
I don't consider that attacking. Thank you for your genuine concern. The saddle is the lightest one I have. 10 pounds max. It goes on, is clinched up loosely, and is taken right off. The string is the same. Goes in, he just sits there like 'really mom', and I take it out. If I ground drive him, it's in his halter. I will not put a bit in until his teeth are finished coming in. I realize he's a baby so I don't spend more than ten minutes doing any of this with him. And it's not every day. I enjoy teaching him tricks and he loves the attention. Since he's a colt he only gets supervised 'play hour' with my mares. I'm trying to find him a gelding to be his pasture mate. Harder than it should be in this economy!
Oh good it sounded like you were ground driving with the string I got worried!! and glad to know the saddle is light and cinch isn't tight. The I say just keep taking it easy and still be careful with the ground driving. Then my only advice that applies from above is no tacking and ponying for another year or so and keep it short still and take it slow and easy and wait till he's either a good size at age two or till three. If at two he's big enough just sit on him and maybe have someone lead you around a short spell. But that's awhile away. And I guess enjoy that cute baby they are little for such a short time be fore you know it they are huge!
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    01-08-2013, 04:59 PM
Personally, there's no point to tacking up a weanling. You can't actually ride him until he's two, and by that time he should have no problem with throwing things around up there.

All I teach my weanlings is the basics of showmanship and show grooming. So they should lead at my shoulder, stop when I stop, start learning how to set up, jog beside me, stand still for inspection. They should start tying, clipper training, blanketing, banding, bathing, and maybe even vacuuming. Then we also do the basics of natural horsemanship ground work.

I plan on showing yearling longeline, and we don't longe until the spring. Even then you don't longe for a long period of time. You do the walk, stop, and reverse. You jog and lope a few weeks before show time. The rest you work on desensitizing and de-spooking them.

But unless you're going to be a big showie, there's no point in longeing or driving a horse that young. Just do a little ground control and let them grow up.
    01-08-2013, 05:13 PM
I like that you are wanting to take your time and let him hit 3 before you start getting on him. But he's just a baby, and at that young an age, I'd work on desensitizing, picking up feet, standing still, things aren't so scary, and then of course respect for the handler. One he does those easily and consistently, I'd let him be a horse, turn him out, let him play, be with a "herd" so he learns boundaries, and get him out several times a week just to groom him, check for cuts, scratches, clean his feet etc., and be done. I wouldn't really even start ground driving until he's 2, unless you are planning on doing halter, conformation etc. type shows with him, there's no need to speed things up, though I know its hard to wait and just sit and watch.
As for your friend, if she's not going to listen, she's not going to listen, but drafts and warmbloods mature slower than the "hot" breeds, and are often started slower because of that. Even though he's a "big" horse, he's still a baby as well, and his back isn't developed enough to support a rider, even for short periods. I've seen the results of someone riding a horse too young, (yearlings,and early two year olds), and it isn't pretty. I'd just remind her that he's still a growing baby, and shouldn't be ridden, and give her a few facts about growing draft horses, (I know there are some draft people on here who can give good advice), and see what happens.
Clava likes this.
    01-08-2013, 06:23 PM
It's a common misconception that horses mature at different rates. If you do some research, they all mature at roughly the same time regardless of size or breed. The only exception is the back...that doesn't mature until around age 5 or so. I looked this up because I have a 2 1/2 year old who is pretty small. But that's how she's bred and fine with me because I'm a small woman lol I think turn out in a herd is the very best thing you can do for your colt. I turned my filly out and it made a HUGE difference. I worked with her about twice a week, just to make sure she remembered her ground work and manners. Then I'd leave her alone and let her grow up. She's been out to pasture for 6 months now. I just went home for Christmas leave, got her out expecting her to be a little ornery. But no, she remembered everything I had taught her and worked like a pro!! 5 minutes of effective ground work is SO much better then 15 minutes of crappy ground work. You don't have to work them long, just be clear about what you want and end on a good note. As a yearling, I wouldn't mind taking him on 30 min trail rides, being ponied by a well seasoned horse. It's really good for them mentally. And considering that they graze and move around all day long, 30 mins on a trail isn't going to do any damage imo. I would try not to work with him everyday. I've seen a lot of babies become sour that way. Occasional attention really helps to keep them engaged and wanting to work with you. But this is my experience, and I hope it helps you in some way :)

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