What age??? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 02-18-2013, 01:45 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: USA
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What age???

At what age can you start putting a really light saddle on a horse? My colt is 14 months old and i have done everything that i can with him so far...
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post #2 of 10 Old 02-18-2013, 07:49 PM
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I put a saddle (no pad) on my colt years ago when he was about 10 months. It was a child's swade western saddle and weighed maybe 5 lbs, if not less. I'd put it on him, leave it there for about 10 seconds and take it off. It started out as off/on/off/on to get him used to the saddle being thrown around him. When he didn't seem to care, I started "tightening" the girth, never making it even close to fully tight, just enough so he could feel it against his body. And these sessions were never long at all. I didn't want to hurt him. It really, really helped. For the rest of the time I owned him, he couldn't give a care about a saddle. The older he got the tighter I'd make the girth. When he was about a year old I put a regular saddle on him and acted like I was going to ride. (I waited until he was 2.5 to actually sit on him). I don't know if it was wise of me to do that at his age, and I'm sure others would disagree to start them that young, but I knew my colt from the moment he was born and we had a really strong bond. I think it really helped. Just don't overdo it or push him to far.

Hope that helped. Good luck!

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post #3 of 10 Old 02-18-2013, 07:50 PM
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I would begin to start putting saddles on at age 2. Then go from there.

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post #4 of 10 Old 02-18-2013, 08:10 PM
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Yeah, I'd say their two year old year.
But we have a yearling and we've put sheets, blankets, and bareback pads on him and he doesn't care.
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post #5 of 10 Old 02-18-2013, 08:12 PM
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I'd honestly leave him be and wait to put the saddle on him until he's older. Let him enjoy being a little horse!

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #6 of 10 Old 02-18-2013, 08:36 PM
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You can saddle him. Don't put the heaviest saddle you can find on him but we have a little synthetic saddle the babies can't hurt and we saddle the colts as yearlings and let them stand tied while we ride or let them wander around in the round pen every now and then. One less thing to worry about when they're two.

They can "be a horse" when they aren't doing their job. The best horses you'll ever find are used to all these things by the time they're started. I love turning them out and watching them play with the other horses but if for an hour a day a couple times a week I want them to have a saddle on while I work my mare, I think that's a reasonable expectation.

Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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post #7 of 10 Old 02-19-2013, 02:04 AM
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I started my appy gelding (he's going to be 10) and my soon to be QH gelding who is going to be 4 with a bareback pad when they were under 1yr., I tied things to it, so as I took them for walks they got used to things moving around up there on them and on their sides. At 2yrs. I would put the saddle on/off, leave it on for short times, took time tightening the cinch and let them walk around. I never got on them but would put my foot in the stirrup and lay across them for 10 secs or so and hope down, just so they got used to the up/down going on them. Didn't actually sit on them till they were 3yrs. My soon to be 4yr. old was started in the fall, I used a bareback pad/halter on him in the round pen, just doing a walk, a friend has been using a saddle/bridle on him at a walk in the round pen too. He's had the winter off now, so it will be back to training come spring.....

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post #8 of 10 Old 02-19-2013, 03:19 PM
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A big problem with putting tack on a young baby is the person working the horse. If he is wearing the saddle, some will try to find a reason to rationalize going on and riding the baby. The biggest reason being is the reason you have already given. You have done everything you can do.

There is no way you have done "everything" you can with him at 14 months. Is he long lining/ground driving/guiding off the bit yet? Is he going over/under/through obstacles? Can you trim his ears and nose(don't recommend if it is cold out)? Can he load/unload from a trailer? Can he stand tied? How are his foot manners? Will he walk and trot in hand with you without a tailer? These things are not and should not be learned in a short time. These are skills that a horse takes weeks/months to perfect.

There is a foundation you can put on a horse to prepare it for riding and then there is a foundation you can put on them.

The more you do to build this foundation the better off you will be when you go to get in the saddle.

At this age, there really is no harm in limiting your work with the baby. Letting him be out playing and growing, especially if he already knows everything he can know up to this point.
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post #9 of 10 Old 02-19-2013, 05:34 PM
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There's nothing wrong with getting a young horse used to the saddle at an early age. Just make sure you have indeed done the proper desensitizing work with him before, so you don't get a blow up and a wreck.

The things you can do with a young horse are endless. Most of the day-to-day things are the most beneficial.

For example, 4-wheelers are used daily on my parents farm. Thus sometimes we'd go get the horses in the far pasture, and lead them behind the 4-wheeler on the way home.

Or I discovered one day a filly I was training (and not scared of anything) was scared of my little brother riding his bicycle. So I rode a bike in the round pen with her to start, and eventually led her beside me going down the roan on it.

For my current 2-yr-old I had my husband bring home some Tyvec (he builds homes). It's extremely noisy and scary. My colt didn't so much as bat an eye, but it was a great desensitizing tool.

I have made a full-size flag, like the kind you'd see carried in the rodeo arena at grand entries. Also makes a great ground work tool.

You can work on showmanship (stopping, trotting, pivoting, etc) as if you were going to a show. I'll be doing that over the course of months because I plan to show my 2-yr-old at the local level. The exposure will be great for him.

I routinely load and unload my 2 yr old and he comes with on all trailer rides.

And I could seriously keep on going all day long on things you can do with a young horse!!!

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post #10 of 10 Old 02-19-2013, 06:11 PM
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You can teach things and do them endlessly. The "Don't rush and cram" idea is valid, but the sooner you get things exposed to the young horse the more it becomes a way of life. Why isn't a horse scared of other horses or fence rails? Because they live in a pasture. Why aren't the scared of rocks? Because they've lived with them.

So, why would they be scared of flags or saddles or driving equipment if they grew up with it? It should just be life for them.
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Pssh.I didn't pick up the wrong lead
It's called a counter canter...
...A very advanced maneuver.
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