What should a horse know?

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What should a horse know?

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    08-18-2012, 08:54 PM
What should a horse know?

In your opinion, what should every horse who is preparing to be broken to saddle know? And, we're going off a 3 year old preparing to be broken to saddle. Thanks! Just curious to see the general opinions
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    08-18-2012, 08:56 PM
Truthfully, I don't require the ones I start under saddle to know much. I prefer it if they know how to lead and how to give to light pressure on any part of their body. For me, those are the only things I really don't like to do without when I start riding them.
    08-18-2012, 09:10 PM
I want them to accept being handled on every part of their body without fuss, and to give their feet when asked.

I like them to lead correctly, with respect for my personal space, and to respond to poll pressure by giving and coming forward. It's ideal if they can walk, trot, halt and back at the end of the lead without lugging or coming in to my space.

I like for them to lunge in both directions at all gaits with no resistance in response to voice commands/body language and whip position.

I want them to give to pressure and step away from pressure on the ground - if I push on their hindquarter, I want them to move away, not press in on me. If I push on their shoulder, ditto.

I want them to be familiar and comfortable with a bit and bridle, understand how to give to bit pressure by flexing at the poll, and to respond to a leading rein on the ground. Basic lateral and longitudinal flexion, in other words.

The horse I just described is pretty much already broke before you get on him, you just have to put the tack on and teach him his job. I've described the ideal, but smrobs is describing the minimum necessary.

I've started horses with much less than what I've described above, but at some point you have to fill in those pieces of foundation. And it's somewhat individual. If I have a sweet, kind thing that likes people and is accepting of everything, I'm not going to be as picky about perfect response to voice command or how they jog at the end of the leadline, I'll just go ahead and get on. If I have a big, agressive, pushy colt who wants to be the alpha, I will make real sure I have everything on my list installed in triplicate before I swing a leg over.
loosie and Ink like this.
    08-18-2012, 09:35 PM
Wow! Complete opposites! I personally tend to lean more towards Maura's myself
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    08-18-2012, 10:10 PM
Agree with Maura, the more the better. Actually starting under saddle should be no biggie IMO - just one more small difference to what they've already learned.

Only thing I don't tend to bother with before starting a horse is a bit. I start every horse in a halter & only move on to a bit when they're reliable & soft. I get them used to wearing a bit if their owner is going to be using one, but don't teach them to 'follow the feel' from one until they're doing it well in a halter.
    08-19-2012, 12:31 AM
No one out here ever really uses a halter at first, that's not one I'm used to!
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    08-19-2012, 10:38 AM
No, I don't think they're really all the opposite, just different points on a spectrum. Giving to pressure is the key, and the minimum. The rest of the stuff I described is nice to have, or ideal, but you don't HAVE to have - it's more of a preference.

At the very far end of this spectrum are some of the NH people who do months of complicated groundwork before even thinking about throwing a leg over.
loosie and smrobs like this.
    08-20-2012, 12:13 AM
Of course, I consider things like giving to the bit and lunging as part of the saddle training so I don't really expect it beforehand...and personally, in horses that I get from customers, I really prefer less. It is so much easier to deal with an unhandled and unsure horse than it is to deal with a spoiled and pushy one .
    08-20-2012, 12:22 AM
I think that learning about our personal space is a good place to start, as I once was fostering a horse that didn't know a thing about it!

He was great under saddle, but everything else was a disaster. Can you imagine tacking up a horse that has no respect, or knowledge of your personal space? It was terrible.

Mounting was quite the adventure as well ... it was like having a 1500lb lap dog who was insistent on always touching you.

Also, giving to pressure is essential.
    08-20-2012, 08:12 AM
unhandled and unsure horse than it is to deal with a spoiled and pushy one
Agree 100% with this. Every now and then I would get one to start from a breeding farm or that had been handled correctly from birth, and they were a complete joy. Accustom them to the tack, work with them in the round pen for few days and then get on and go.

But I would much rather work with a completely untouched one than a spoiled one.

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