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wanderlust 11-30-2008 05:14 PM

Green Trainer/Green Horse
I am asking this question as part hypothetical, part reality. At this point though, mostly hypothetical.

I am a new rider. I am just beginning lessons again after almost 15 years away from horses. I am a voracious reader and have spent years reading about horses, but have spent that time not actually being near horses.

Unfortunately, I can't fight the horse fever. I am more strongly wanting a horse of my own every day.

It has always been my dream to have an unbroken foal and break it. I think that bond is something unbeatable.

If I were to work with a trainer about half the time, and the other half of the time be alone with the horse, what are my chances of doing this right? I want a horse, but not at the expense of it being done badly.

RusticWildFire 11-30-2008 05:31 PM

Well, to be honest it would be best to start out with a broke horse to get back into it and then get an unbroken foal.
I got Hunter as a 3 year old and he was pretty much un-trained. I picked it up quickly and did a good job IMO. I had Scooter before that though who I got when he was 20. He taught me LOTS of things!
It can be done but as you said you don't want to do it wrong either.. I think working with a trainer is a really good idea if you do go ahead with it and I think it will help that you have done a lot of reading and such...

If it were me, I'd say get an older one and learn first. Maybe try to teach the horse a new trick or something to get a feel for how it all works and then go ahead a little later with the foal. I know it's tough to wait but in the long run it would be worth it I think. Good Luck!

loosie 11-30-2008 05:44 PM

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I think that you do need some hands on experience too. You can't learn 'feel' from books & vids. Working with a *good* trainer is a great idea & there's no reason you can't start that before getting a foal. Why not ask to do some 'work experience' with one?

But starting with a foal, apart from needing to desensitise it for hoofcare & the likes ASAP, you can take your time & avoid teaching it stuff you're not confident about until you become more experienced.

If you haven't already studied 'clicker training', I highly recommend it. Don't get hung up on the clicker & food treats - while there's nothing wrong & lots good about these 'tools', they're optional - it's the principles that are the important things to learn. These are sound behavioural psychology principles & are universally effective, no matter what the species(yes, even for husbands!<G>). "Don't Shoot The Dog" by Karen Pryor is one great book on the subject.

wanderlust 11-30-2008 06:04 PM

Loosie, that was my thought on the subject. If I am getting a foal, there is time to learn and grow together, especially with a trainer watching to make sure I am progressing the right way. I take riding lessons 2 to 3 times a week, and I am sure that by the time I am ready to actually get a foal I will be better adjusted for training one. And by the time he is ready to be ridden, I will be a much better rider.

FGRanch 11-30-2008 06:41 PM

If you are working with a trainer then go ahead and get a foal!

iridehorses 11-30-2008 06:45 PM

Personally it is a bad idea. 1,2,3 years of riding and a hugh amount of reading and/or DVDs will not give you the insight to properly train a foal. Training a horse takes an understanding of the horse, not reacting to him but knowing why he's doing what he's doing and predicting his next move before he knows himself what he's going to do.

Learn to ride, help out at the barn, be an apprentice to a trainer, work with many many horses. Any mistakes you make can be with that horse for life.

Have people done it? Sure, but look on the forum and see how many first time people have trouble with horses they are "training". Do trainers have trouble too? Of course but not only are they minimal, they know what to do for the most part. A new horseman just will not see the signs that only experience will see.

I'm not trying to discourage you but pointing out the reality not the romance of bonding with a foal as a first training attempt.

Anyway that's my 2 cents.

(still can't get the cents symbol)

JustDressageIt 11-30-2008 06:47 PM

It has always been my opinion that Green+Green=Black&Blue.
I honestly have yet to see a green rider get a green horse and not have major problems.
I know it's a fantasy of most horsepeople to get a foal and have an "unbreakable bond" and learn together, sadly that is rarely the truth.
Foals test you, constantly. They play and try to be the "top dog" in the herd.
With a youngster, you have to be very consistant and know instinctively what to do in certain situations. You have to know how to react and when to react, and be completely consistant.
The problem is, beginners make tons of mistakes - which is absolutely fine and normal and great, we learn from mistakes... however young horses don't deal well with mistakes; what they need is a seasoned rider and handler that knows what they're doing to get the basics done.
I honestly recommend that a green rider get a more experienced horse. That way you learn from a horse that knows not to over-react if you make a mistake. Well broke horses are worth their weight in gold.
Another point I thought I'd bring up is, well, with young horses you tend to hit the dirt a LOT more than with a seasoned horse. With a young horse, you're doing everything with them for the first time; you can never be too sure how they'll react. Could you handle that, honestly? A lot of people can't, especially beginner riders.
I am being completely frank, I know... learn from an older horse first, then by all means go and get your dream foal... but please don't let it be your first horse :)

Best of luck.

mayfieldk 11-30-2008 06:48 PM

I'm always divided about this.

Everyone always has a dream about bringing home the cute little foal and then training it when it gets older--but training a foal is not like it seems. They don't tell you that when you first cinch up some foals, no matter how slow you take it, they buck and bronc and ram into fences. They don't tell you that in your first 60 to 90 days of riding, they can buck, rear, and bolt for almost no reason. Training a 2/3/4 year old to ride is difficult and requires an excellent seat, just for the fact that that baby will be giving you TONS of opportunities to let you meet the grass.

I've met lots of good riders, and I've watched those same riders fall off again and again on babies. It takes a bit of roughness and courage, and at the same time, softness and finesse, to train babies to ride. Just because you can ride all of your trainer's school horses, doesn't mean you'll be able to ride a baby who's trying to balance themselves AND you. I have seen and ridden so many green horses that are poorly trained and have horrible habits because people tried to train them, and realized too late that they couldn't.

And that's just RIDING. Halter and ground work, within the first 2 years, is just as dangerous. Babies behave like babies--wild, erratic behavior. ADD minds, dangerous hooves and no manners. If you can't seem to stay calm when old Miss Clover throws in a crow hop when your riding, forget it.

Babies take a certain amount of athleticism. You have to be able to take a fall--because it's not a question of 'if', but 'when'. And you have to get up and get back on. You can't get scared, you can't have crazy adrenaline running high, and you have to be able to move quickly if on the ground to get out of the way. Many people seem to think that if you just take everything slowly, the baby will never freak out--and I can't stress how UNTRUE that thought is. I am a firm believer in that everyone can not be trainers. A baby, in the hands on the inexperienced, turns into a stubborn, bratty, dangerous animal with hard habits to break.

If you are looking for a pal to go trail riding with, or a horse to do some light competing, I would look for one already broke. If you are calm, atheltic and willingly accept that you ARE going to get hurt and possibly seriously so, get a foal. If you have the time to train a horse 5-6 days a week, get a green horse or a foal. If you don't have that kind of time, or you don't think you'll be able to do it, don't get a foal and leave training to the professionals--a broken bone or a concussion isn't worth wanting a cute baby to grow up with.

Besides, I have three horses--a weanling, and two older geldings. Babies don't give a crap about people in a 'bonding' way. You can form incredible bonds with any horse you get--it's just a romantic notion that one you form with a foal will be somewhat 'better'.

Sorry to sound harsh, but I've had to retrain a lot of horses trained by inexperienced owners, AND bad trainers alike. Training is not a set of steps to take, it is a skill--some people have it, and others don't. And above all--babies can be very, very dangerous.

If you still want to get a foal, I would suggest sending it out to a reputable trainer. You can still grow with it, AND you won't be getting injured.

Green and green makes black and blue!

mayfieldk 11-30-2008 06:51 PM

Completely agree, JustDressageIt. How many people do you know get a foal, start to train and break it... and then are terrified to take it out of the stall because they don't want to get hurt again?
Not a very nice bond.

wanderlust 11-30-2008 07:13 PM

None of this sounds harsh to me...I asked for opinions, and that is what I am getting. I want honest truths.

I would never be training this foal by myself. It would be in the hands of a trainer, and I would be there.

The last thing I would ever want to do it get a horse and not properly care for it..there is enough of that going around.

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