My boy that I am going to train is only 10 months, so I know I have awhile. But I know the age to begin saddle training is very controversal. I was thinking about waiting till 2 1/2-3. I hear some say to start at 2... Some 3.... Some not even till 5.
At what time is a horse developed enough to the point of doing light under saddle work (groundwork, no rider) without any damage to the joints or any affecting growth? Posted via Mobile Device
Here's what I've done, take it or leave it:
0-2 years old - Get them used: to being touched all over, yielding to pressure, tying, leading, fly spray, ropes all around. But for the most part let them just grow up to be a horse. Keep sessions short, under 15 minutes.
2-3 years old - short sessions of accepting a bridle/bit, surcingle, leg wraps. Introduce a *light* saddle.
3 or 4 years old (depending on the horse, some need longer to mature) - bring them into work and under saddle. This means lunging, long lining, etc.
It is very important to keep sessions short for youngsters. Some horses have such good minds, it's easy to push them that step too far and end up ruining your training session.
Even though he's larger, he's still just a youngster so any saddle you have is going to be far too big for him. What I do when I've got one that is too young/small for a real saddle is I'll get them started using a bareback pad. Mine has a cinch on it where I can tighten it up enough to get them used to the pressure but there is no actual weight on their back and no rigid tree or anything that could possibly pinch them or hit a pressure point anywhere.
As for what to do, you can do nearly anything with one that young that you can do with an older one...except ride. I've known of lots of folks that will substitute ground driving for riding with their young horses. Lots of folks ground drive their colts all over the place. You can also pony him on trails if you have another horse to ride while you lead him.
Other than that, just work on everything that he'll need to be a good horse later on; leading, giving all parts of his body, make sure he respects your space at all times, ensure he'll stand perfectly for the farrier, teach him to stand tied, give him baths, touch and rub and squeeze and poke all over him (comes in handy if he ever gets hurt and you have to doctor a hard-to-reach spot), expose him to scary objects, take him for hand walks around town, etc. Like JDI said, though, keep the sessions short and make sure to give him plenty of time to just go be a horse.
I have a friend who takes his horses jogging with him the way most people take their dogs LOL.
This is my latest yearling (forgive the improvised cinch, she is about half the size of the last yearling I used it on LOL). This is what I use to get them used to something on their back and around their belly without using an actual saddle that would sit down on their withers or pinch their shoulders.