Training a young horse, how much is too much - The Horse Forum
  • 1 Post By Skyseternalangel
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post #1 of 9 Old 10-01-2013, 02:52 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2012
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Training a young horse, how much is too much

I have owned my own horse before, and worked with a ton of others. I have trained my friend's colt successfully, and would really like my own now. In the next few months, I would like to fulfill this dream.

I plan on it being just a pleasure horse, maybe some low level jumping or dressage, but nothing too fancy. I want to know how much desensitizing is too much.

I would like to desensitize him as much as possible before he is ever backed, I mean a bit more than the average foal training. I want a horse that can do just about everything.

I want to get him used to a cinch and sensations of stirrups. Maybe just walking him with a bareback pad with stirrups (with NO extra weight on it). I want to walk him near loud streets, so he gets used to traffic at a young age. I want to get him used to loud things following him, like maybe just pulling a child's wagon (not attached to him) behind him as I walk him. Maybe driving him with his halter and long lines.

Would any of that be too much, as long as I go at a reasonable pace, don't overload him, and keep short sessions?
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post #2 of 9 Old 10-01-2013, 03:11 AM
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How young would this horse be, approximately?
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"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #3 of 9 Old 10-01-2013, 03:16 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Skyseternalangel View Post
How young would this horse be, approximately?
I'm not looking for a specific age group. Whatever is old enough to leave mom without issues. If I could find exactly what I wanted, it would be 1-1.5 years.
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post #4 of 9 Old 10-01-2013, 08:08 AM
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At that age 10-15 min simple sessions. They have very short attention spans and still need 2 yrs + to grow up physicall and mentally. I like to then start 30 mins-ish of "real" ground work at 3-3.5 yrs old. Maybe riding briefly (20-30 min positive session) for 30-60 days in the fall and then grow up over the winter and then working more normally at 4.

Everyone does it differently, though. I am waiting on my two 4 yr olds because they were very immature physically at 3, and didnt seem ready mentally this spring... They are doing much better with their groundwork this fall though. Sometimes you have to throw out your plans and go with what the horses need.
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post #5 of 9 Old 10-01-2013, 08:14 AM
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At 1 to 1.5 I would only teach to lead, pick up hooves and that is about it, I'd then let them be a baby until they were about 3 and then start doing 10mins at a time teaching long reining and having tack on and eventually backing, then over winter I wouldn't do much and really bring them on at 4.
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post #6 of 9 Old 10-01-2013, 08:29 AM
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I've done all that and more with my yearling. Except the saddle.

She is show broke, ground drives in a halter, clips, ties, loads, could care less about cars, bicycles, scooters, strollers etc. A lot of that stuff you find on show grounds. I've been throwing a saddle pad on her. Eventually I will use a rope to simulate the pressure of a girth. But the actual saddling won't take place until she's 2. I have no worries about it.

In my opinion, it can be done. I consider mine very broke to ground control, and she's not worn out of it. She is getting the winter off right now.

I would suggest finding the right horse. Personality, intelligence, bravery, and a good build are all things that will help the process along. Go for something naturally more mature than the rest of the herd, nothing scatterbrained shrimpy looking. It also helps a great deal if they have been handled since birth, but that's just my opinion.
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post #7 of 9 Old 10-01-2013, 08:30 AM
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At 1 to 1.5 years of age, I'd do a little bit of everything short of actually getting on them. I'd ground drive them, hand walk them through obstacle courses (like you find for trail classes at a show), I'd pony them along on some trail rides, teach to bathe, clip, lead, tie, load and unload on a trailer, stand in stocks for a vet, be polite about having the farrier do their feet, carry a very lightweight saddle, carry a bit .......basically everything I'd want them to do without actually being ridden.

****ETA****Everything except being ponied on a trail ride can be done in short bursts, 10-15 mins, so as not to over stress their young minds. You can do more than one session a day though, as long as you give nice breaks.
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post #8 of 9 Old 10-01-2013, 08:00 PM
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Certainly do some good ground work as a yearling or younger. Yes they need to be able to tie, lead, stand for the farrier, load in a trailer etc. But you don't want to go overboard. The horses that are constantly handled and desensitised as youngsters often turn out to be problematic after breaking. They need time to be a horse as well.
I did quite a lot of handling with my youngster up until about 18 months old. Leading, tying, rugging, washing, wearing a roller and holding a bit.
Then he was tossed out in a rough paddock and seen once a day to check that he still had 4 legs and was standing.
He is off to the breakers in a month as a 3 year old, and having brought him in a handful of times in the last few weeks he is still good as gold - leads politely, ties, loads etc.

~Horse & Hound Artistry~.

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post #9 of 9 Old 10-02-2013, 05:39 AM
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Horses are a 'precocial' species, which means they're mentally ready for all of that sort of stuff soon after birth. I also like to do anything & everything, from babyhood, without pressure, with lots of time to take your time, lots of repetition, etc, etc, rather than waiting for the horse to be x years old & then be put into intensive training. That way, by the time it's time to 'start' the horse, they're pretty well seasoned & educated already - it's not a big deal.

I wouldn't be doing much if any weight bearing or high impact stuff, or tie up a youngster though, as it's too easy to damage immature bodies & that will take a fair bit longer than 2 years.
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