When do you consider a horse ready for a rider? How would you go about it? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 20 Old 02-16-2010, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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When do you consider a horse ready for a rider? How would you go about it?

i just want to hear some opinions....
For example what should the horse know how to do?
What do you make sure it knows?
What age do most people like to start?
Should the horse be ridden for the first time without a saddle?
Should it have a bit on? Or is a halter and lead ok? What do you use?
Does anyone have a special technique they use?
Anything else before the first ride.....?
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post #2 of 20 Old 02-16-2010, 06:39 PM
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I consider a horse ready to ride sometime after 3 years of age if it has basic ground manners and respect for the human body, basic ground work (walk/trot/halt in hand, moves front end or hind end over with a tap.) has been lunged enough that it's obedient to voice commands and body language at all three gaits, and has been desensitized to the bridle and saddle.

This is all assuming the horse is physically mature enoguh to carry a rider.
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post #3 of 20 Old 02-16-2010, 07:54 PM
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It all depends on the horse in my opinion.

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post #4 of 20 Old 02-16-2010, 08:42 PM
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It depends on the horse...

Based on my experiences when I started my gelding...

For example what should the horse know how to do? Whether undersaddle or not, in my opinion, a horse should know how to lunge at a walk and trot and know the voice command/cluck/click/kiss noises for walk, trot, and whoa. Basic ground-driving, though IMO, that isn't a major thing and can be taught anytime, have good ground manners, be respectful...
What do you make sure it knows? Lunging and acceptance of pressure on the sides, basic voice commands, groundwork...
What age do most people like to start? I started my boy at two years of age, though it all depends on the horse...
Should the horse be ridden for the first time without a saddle? Depends on the rider and the horse...
Should it have a bit on? Or is a halter and lead ok? What do you use? I got my boy used to a bit months before I ever got on him, but his first handful of rides were with a halter and lead, I only introduced the bit after he was doing well in halter and lead... I still switch him back ot halter and lead because, since he was started in it, he responds to it just as well as he does with a bit...
Does anyone have a special technique they use? Absolutely no treats whatsoever... if you give a reward, let it be in the form of a scratch or 'good boy' or pat (in my experience, treats make my boy mouthy and I hate mouthy horses), lots of in hand walking (I mean miles and miles of in hand walking... I've found that it really helps to form bonds)... also, on a very nervous horse, it might be a little better to have a 'steady eddy' around, as the calm disposition of an older horse who you and the youg horse trusts may help calm the younger horse...
Anything else before the first ride.....? Desensitizing to saddle, stirrups flapping, loud noises, anything!!!!

Horseshoe Loop Farm: Home of Gypsie (22 y/o TWH mare), Dakota (10 y/o TWH gelding), Codie (18 y/o Walkaloosa gelding) & Harlow (9 y/o APHA mare)
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post #5 of 20 Old 02-16-2010, 09:31 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks. This is all great information so far.
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post #6 of 20 Old 02-16-2010, 10:14 PM
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I'd like to add to what Britt said (even though that was a GREAT answer). Depending on what your horse is supposed to be doing (reining, roping, penning, etc.) I would get it used ot stuff involved in that area of sport early. Maybe not before you start riding them, but they learn very well at a young age, so desenstizing them to ropes, chutes, etc can be a good idea. Maybe get them used to a rope on the ground, then get them used to having a rope thrown from them before you introduce the actual cattle later on.

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post #7 of 20 Old 02-17-2010, 05:01 AM
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I prefer to start a horse any time after they are 3 but I am comfortable starting a 2 year old if needed. I don't generally lunge a horse so lunging isn't terribly important to me. Basically, all I teach my horses before climbing on is to softly flex their neck each way and have an established cue for forward motion; cluck, smooch, etc. Past that, I expect them to learn everything else with me in the saddle cause that's where I will be 99.99% of the time anyway.

Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog: http://robertsontraining.blogspot.com/
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post #8 of 20 Old 02-18-2010, 01:23 PM Thread Starter
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Anyone else???
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post #9 of 20 Old 02-18-2010, 03:07 PM
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In my opinion, is the most important thing before letting a horse carry a rider, to build up a strong bond between horse and rider.
- be patient
- love the horse more than your boyfriend
- and respect the horse

it is also why I am against letting pro trainers doing the job, because this mental journey, will strengthen the 'horse - rider relationship'. But of course you need a pro trainer as a rider! :)

Yees I knoow, I'm a hippie.
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post #10 of 20 Old 02-18-2010, 03:49 PM
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For example what should the horse know how to do?
The horse should know how to lunge properly and ground drive. When the horse is lunging the horse should knows all the ques like "kiss" for canter, and "whoa" for stop..
What do you make sure it knows?
The quick release, how to stop, and how to wear the tack properly.
What age do most people like to start?
Three is good :) Though, two for basic ground work.
Should the horse be ridden for the first time without a saddle?
No.
Should it have a bit on? Or is a halter and lead ok? What do you use?
Yeah, I would put the bridle over the halter for the first few rides. Use a regular snaffle.


If you can I would try to work with the horse and ride with the horse in a round pen first.

I think lunging is extremely important, as well as getting a professional atleast help you. You could seriously damage a horse if not done properly, and it takes longer to fix a bad habit.



Last edited by White Foot; 02-18-2010 at 03:52 PM.
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