How far along do you think he should be?
I have a client who owns an arab sport horse gelding who will be 4 in June. I've been working with this horse for a year and a half. The owner purchased a 4 lesson package every month. If she doesn't schedule the lesson, I work with him alone.
Depending on what I was working on with him and the weather, I may have worked with him once a week for an hour or twice a week for half hour or one hour for 4 days straight. I did a lot of ground work with him, made sure he could lunge, load, clip, bathe, blanket, a little ground driving.. I also did some trick training with him until I could start him under saddle. I started him under saddle about 5 months ago so he's had approximately 20 rides. Generally the under saddle sessions are an hour long including ground work.
We do a lot of walking in circles, figure eights, over poles, stopping, backing, one rein stops, stretching down, shortening-lengthening, turn on the haunches and fore-hand, some leg-yielding. We do about 5-10 minutes of trot work just doing circles and figure eights. I haven't asked for hardly any long and low work at the trot because he is still unsure of his surroundings (We have a lot of construction going on at the barn). We've done some cantering because he's over-reacted to forward aids and we just go with it. He is one of those rare few who is actually more balanced at the canter than the trot. He can be painfully lazy or very up and spooky.
To me, this is to be expected with 4 hours a month. Once the indoor arena is done, I'm hoping to get him training 5 days a week so we can start making more progress.
The question: Does he sound on par to you? What would expect from a horse ridden this frequency? For those of you have sent your horses to trainers.. what was their training schedule? I know this can vary greatly per horse so I'm just trying to get an average consensus. Most horses I've worked with in the past were 5 days a week for an average 3 months to get them up to approx second level movements or basic 30 day walk-trot- canter.
Had I a 3 year old, if I sent it to the trainers, first of all it would probably be for 30 days only just to get it broke, after that I would prefer to do all the rides on it myself. Following the trainer I would probably work with the horse 4 days a week, walk trot and minimal canter about 30 minutes a session and chuck it in a field for the winter (4 to 6 months). In it's 4 year old year I would be riding it 4 - 5 days a week for 30, working up to 45 minutes, starting around now to get it ready for showing this year. By May I would hope to have the horse putting together a solid training level test, and working on the FEI 4 year old test stuff like lengthening the stride, yeilding from the leg, sitting trot.
Thats my personal opinion though, and only barring any health issues. Young horses have such a short attention span I find it hard to keep them away from their buddies for more than an hour or an hour and a half including groundwork and grooming (unless of course they are having "issues" requiring a "tune-up" in the form of a frothy bum and a wet saddle pad :P) so I don't like to work them for a long time just kind of walking and trotting around. I like to do stuff with them, mini hacks, poles, transitions, transitions, transitions and if they are apt to something, like a lengthen stride, then develop that. I might do like 2 20 meter circles in a row, max, and after that it's onto something new. I also prefer to keep them on a consistent schedule, 5 days a week seems to work well with short sessions rather than one marathon session a week.
I would not be expecting to seriously school second level movements until December or January when they are 4 as they do require muscle strength, coordination and some "strength" in the joints which would not be developed at this point in their training. After a good 6 months of consistent riding, 5 days a week, I would start asking for baby shoulder ins, travers, and start working on the walk-canter and collecting the canter in prep. for the canter-walk.
Hope that gives you a decent timeline... There was a great article in Dressage Today about how this one guy gets his horses going and it was great to read. Obviously add like 200% of the timeline from his hahaha as he is a serious professional with these horses!! It's crazy how fast he can get them out and about. I think it was like 2 months from unbroke to horse show...
There is also a great Klimke book about young horses... I have it somewhere.. it's quite realistic and gives some great ideas about what to do with your babies.
I was reading that article the other day Anebel, and thinking how smooth he made the process seem! Heck, I hope I can do Billy some justice once he's under saddle, I am petrified of botching him up :S
personaly my baby is still trying to figure out where to put his legs in canter! This is 6 months after he was sat on for the first time. But i'm in no hurry, i've got anouther 20+ years of enjoying him.
He has started learning shoulder in, leg yielding (does that quite well) and turn on the forehand. He also does a very good reinback concidering I have never taught him it and discovered that he could do it when trying to get a gate open without getting off.
he gets ridden 6 days a week (tues, wed, thurs), schooling 3 days hacking out 3 days (Friday, saturday and sunday which are the days I can ride out in daylight) and he gets lunged on a monday (because I have to be in work early and I finnish late so dont have time to do much else).
I find that this keeps him fresh and enjoying his work, he always has his ears forwards when working and is always so willing to try. I do school on hacks, you can teach a horse an awful lot without the horse realising it! if you know what you are doing there is very little that you can teach a horse in a school that you can't teach him out on a track or road.
There is absolutly nothing worse than a young horse who has gone round and round a school for hours everyday, is stale, bored and switched off or one that freaks everytime something moves and cant cope away from its safe environment because it has never seen anything.
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