"Finishing" A Green Broke Horse
I have a 5 year old gelding who I suppose is technically "green broke". Before I adopted him from the animal shelter I work at he had never been trained to do anything past accepting a saddle, responding to a bit and walking in the direction he was pointed in. I use him exclusively as a trail horse riding through the woods and dirt roads in the area I live in. We spend 2-3 hours a day together. Most of what I have actively been working with him on since I got him is desensitizing him to all the things that a horse might see while riding on the trail, and have been successful. Every day I see progress in his reactions and behavior, and I am very proud of him. :)
I am not a particularly experienced rider, but I have absolutely no trouble with my gelding. He is a good, quiet horse who never gives me any trouble past what I consider normal for any horse - spooking in place or at the most taking a quick steps before stopping when he sees a scary, horse eating water sprinkler or something like that. He has decent ground manners and pays attention to the cues I give him while I am in the saddle. I try to use the minimum amount of pressure to get him to respond to me, and we seem to understand each other quite well. However, as I mentioned I am not a particularly experienced rider, and my horse is not what most would consider a well trained horse. One might argue that he is very well trained for what I want him to do, which is ride at a walk or slow trot on trails, but I feel like I should be teaching him more. That is where I have questions. What should I be teaching my friend in order to transform him from "green broke" to "well broke"?
Do you ever plan on selling this horse?
If not, I personally would train walk, trot, canter, back, stop. Just basic things like that. You'll never know when you will need to use them. But you probably think differently than I do.
As a relatively green rider you'll want to manage your expectations of yourself and of your horse. It sounds as though the two of you already have a good thing going on. To me, preserving that good thing is the prime directive. It can be wrecked through too much 'training' and you'll actually end up farther behind than you would have been. It's important to practice patience, but moreover to cultivate a love for the process of learning. Forget the destination of a 'finished' horse. There's no such thing anyway. It's just a word we use to describe a nice broke horse who is experienced, educated and reliable. If you can teach yourself to love the journey though, you'll never get frustrated. You'll never push your horse or yourself too hard and ruin the enjoyment you get from being with him. So many people do that. We want ourselves and our horses to be advanced immediately if not sooner and the horse pays the price. It's no picnic for the human either, actually.
I'll get off the soapbox now lol. :P
If I had a horse like that, who was already taking care of me and being nice and reliable I'd just start with some simple stuff. See if you can walk and then trot him in perfectly round circles and perfectly straight lines. On a green horse I'll do transitions to the lope but they don't have to stay there for a mile. Most of the work is at the walk/trot. You may be surprised at how much time you'll spend on getting round circles and straight lines, but if you can do that it'll set the foundation for a lot of other more advanced things. You can really never get these basic moves too good!
I don't plan on selling him, and according to the terms of the adoption contract I signed I would have to return him to the shelter in the event that I could no longer care for him. I live in an area with a large amount of poverty and see abused/neglected horses all the time. We've had SO many come through the shelter this year, and at the beginning of the year had to seize over 70 thoroughbred horses suffering from severe neglect and starvation. They were able to go to a rescue, fortunately, but the grade horses we get without much training just sit and sit in foster without any interest. Before I adopted him he'd lived his entire life tied out on a rope, receiving little to no food or attention. Buck was finally seized from his owner early this year, but he'd been on the radar for a while. He has a large permanant scar on his right fore from rope burn, and a huge scar on his chest from running up onto a post. Before this year, Buck had NEVER run loose in a pasture or had enough to eat. Really, I'm lucky that he's as nice a horse as he is considering his background. If I ever have to rehome him, I want to make sure that he has enough training to ensure a safe future for him.
I would have to agree with Ian.
Miles in the saddle; take things nice and slow.
Don't push for more when you or your horse aren't ready for it.
That's the best advice I can give you.
Your horses trot is bouncy because he's not "round" or engaging his back. This is typical in green horses because you have to teach a horse to be round. When this happens the horses back is hollow and will get a sore back with a rider bouncing around and may cause sway back in an older horse. Also when you teach a horse to become round his trot and canter will become slower and smoother.
For a trail horse that is only ridden a couple times a week it's not really a big deal, most trail horses aren't taught this because they dont undergo alot of physical stress. Just thought you should be informed :)
It sounds like you already have a lovely relationship with your gelding. I love it! There is nothing more rewarding than giving a rescue a life they have never experienced. It sounds like Buck is very grateful to you and realizes you are there to protect him and give him a chance at happiness.
My suggestion would definitely be to continue as you have been doing. The miles on him will definitely help in making him a reliable trail horse. The above suggestion was also very good. Practicing your perfect circles and lines will help. Also, continue to introduce him to new environments and situations. Bring him around other horses, water, mud, bridges, traffic, etc. Keep a calm and reassuring attitude at all times.
Sounds like you're doing very well, and keep up the good work!
What part of Louisiana are you in? (tangent)
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