From Yearling to Saddling: A First Timer

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From Yearling to Saddling: A First Timer

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  • Yearling saddling
  • How to get a yearling to take the bit

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    05-13-2009, 06:06 AM
From Yearling to Saddling: A First Timer

My first filly I've trained from birth will turn 1yr on May 28th. I've been so lucky to get a smart, well mannered, calm but with a bit of fire filly who comes from a long line of awesome sires, showmares and broodmares. She isn't the kind of horse I keep to breed, so I'll probably be selling her after she's broken, but it's been a great first time. Also, to note, she is a Tennessee Walker.

She was able to walk on a lead (with buttrope) better than her slightly pushy mother at 3 weeks. We eventually got past the catching problem, and now all she wants to do is put the halter on and go on an adventure. She longes, though the fastest I have gotten her to is a flat walk as she is a bit of a speed demon and wants too much to go faster.

We have so far conquered the following and redo them regularly: Creeks (in hand and ponied), longing, walking over/through/under scary tarps, walking over small jumps, walking a few paces with her eyes covered, standing without being held with her eyes covered, mealtime manners, standing tied for up to 30 minutes, trailering, birds flushing from logs and trees, side pressure and responses, flexing (not too much), letting feet/ears/nose/udder/etc be handled, traffic, cats, dogs, goats, children, elderly, car horns, atv's, clippers, grooming everywhere, "bagging" with feed/grocery/paper bags, leading without a lead or halter, free longing, and I'm sure there are others I'm forgetting.

I've never seen her spook but once, when she stepped over a log and birds flushed, hitting her in the face, stomach and legs, and even then she calmed down pretty fast. Most things she is a little cautious about, but she trusts me enough to do what I ask. Learning the eyes covered thing was actually an accident, I was putting something on her neck to make her mane less wonky and it stuck over her eyes. Next time I put it on, I left it there a little longer. She gets uneasy after about 2 minutes, but to be a yearling and not react I think is pretty awesome. I've handled her since she was about 6 hours old, and she is proof of why I love her dam, one of my best broodmares, so very much.

My question is this, where do we go from here? I'll of course keep repeating what I'm doing, adding new things in and changing, but is there anything else I could do to help her along? I've already introduced a saddle pad, and she sniffed it but didn't blink. At what age do I introduce a saddle without using a girth? With a girth and light pressure? I have a mini children's english (weighs about 6lbs), which I'll probably use until she's big enough to handle a larger one, so I'm set up for that.

Also, any suggestions on what we haven't covered yet?

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    05-13-2009, 06:32 AM
Green Broke
Im not sure about where to go from there but WOW she sounds like she is making alot of progress.
    05-13-2009, 06:39 AM
Most of the progress she has made has been on her own. I am rehabbing an emotional and physical abuse case, a 7 year old mare, and a lot of the things I do to help along my abused mare I do first with this filly (Boss) to give me a good example of how a well balanced emotionally intelligent horse reacts to the same thing.

Half of the things we do have just popped into my head, I threw a halter on her or a rope around her neck, and she just does them. People I know are jealous of my genius yearling.
    05-13-2009, 02:47 PM
My question is this, where do we go from here? I'll of course keep repeating what I'm doing, adding new things in and changing, but is there anything else I could do to help her along? I've already introduced a saddle pad, and she sniffed it but didn't blink. At what age do I introduce a saddle without using a girth? With a girth and light pressure? I have a mini children's english (weighs about 6lbs), which I'll probably use until she's big enough to handle a larger one, so I'm set up for that.

Also, any suggestions on what we haven't covered yet?
You can introduce girth pressure without a saddle first. This way, you don't overwhelm her with too much to deal with. You're just introducing One thing at a time.

This is how I do it:
1)Take 2 long lead lines and one of them attach it to her halter, the other needs a large ring on the snap.

2)Be able to toss the lead line over her and around her, then toss it over her back and thread it through the ring so that the line is completely around her girth area.
3)take out the slack to the (ring) lead line and release. Repeat several times so she feels the "girth" tighten.
4) repeat the tightening and releasing while also asking her to move around you.

This will teach her to give to the girth, to relax, so when it's time to saddle her, she won't care and won't even think about bucking or reacting to it.

Do this a lot. When you are comfortable about asking her to trot and lope on a lead line later on....repeat this exercise. It's important that she feels this "girth" tightening at all gaits to minimize and elliminate the possibility of her bucking/reacting to the saddle.

Another Exercise:

If her teeth have been checked by a vet and she doesn't have wolf teeth (some mares do get wolf teeth, not all but some) that can get in the way or other issues (sharp points, etc).....then put a bit in her mouth only with the bridle and no reins. Just let her carry the bit in her mouth while you use a halter under the bridle. If her mouth is small, use a pony full cheek or dee ring smooth bar snaffle.

Another exercise:

Teach her to give to pressure. Use the halter and lead. Stand at her side and ask her to flex. When she doesn't move her feet and only brings her head around (you might find yourself spinning around and around for a little bit. Just stick with it) and gives to that pressure at a stand still...then as she's flexing to one side, tell that same side hip to move (disengage)....the back feet cross and she ends up stopped and facing you. Be sure to give the release at the right time. When she gives to the pressure.

Repeat on both sides until you can ask her to flex and she "weighs nothing in your hand" No resistance and she moves her hip away willingly, crossing the back feet every time.

Then ask her to go forward around you, a half circle, take out the slack in the lead line, ask her to flex and move the hip over to stop.

This will turn into your One Rein Stop and into steering.

When you feel comfortable....then repeat the exact same thing by clipping the lead line to the bit (snaffle only, full cheek or d-ring only).

This way, when she's ready to be ridden in a few years, she'll already know what bit pressure means and you'll have a stop and steering already in place.

You're doing a great job to getting her Desensitized....Be careful to add Sensitized, too. That's just giving to pressure when pressure is applied.

Then she can continue to be a well rounded horse.
    05-13-2009, 03:05 PM
It's really up to you how far you want to go. When I work with babies (from weanlings up to about 2 year olds), I like to make sure that they are comfortable with the following:
-brushing and having their feet handled with farrier
-many pulling
-brief introduction to clipping
-standing tied, both in a stall and cross tied
-ok with being in a washrack
-understands and responds to pressure; backs up, moves over, ect

I also bridle my horses at about their 2nd birthday, making sure they understand that their head needs to drop. Saddle pads go on the back, they get introduced to boots on, and I'll flap the saddle pad over their backs a couple of times.

There's no reason why you couldn't start introducing a light saddle if you wanted to; just take it slow and easy in short bouts.

But honestly? That's pretty much it. Even if you decide to do nothing else, it really doesn't take much time or effort to get a horse used to saddle/bridle if done right, which is why many people wait until they are about to be started.
    05-14-2009, 02:12 AM
Thanks so much! I'll keep all of your ideas in mind when working with her next.
    05-15-2009, 02:09 AM
Well I just posted a thread asking the same question! Now I am going to steal answers from this thread to use on my yearling colt . Lots of good info here! Thanks

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