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-   -   If you're gonna ride a young horse, then ride them. (

smrobs 09-21-2010 07:10 PM

If you're gonna ride a young horse, then ride them.
I see it all the time, folks talking about "breaking" their youngster and saying with pride that "I've been on him 3 times and he rides like a dream. I get on and just kinda let him go where he wants and if he wants to stop, I let him. He hasn't tried to buck me off or anything." Doing this is what I call 'sneaking rides' on a young horse, where you get on and do everything you can so that they don't realize they have a rider. I just got finished with one mare and now have a gelding that had this done to them when they were young. When they are started like that, it takes time after you actually start directing them to make them realize that they need to go the way you want them to go, not the way that want to go. Plus, all of a sudden, all that leg and rein pressure and they don't get their own way, it is much more likely to turn into a huge wreck. Horses that never offered to buck with 20 snuck rides will suddenly turn into a rodeo bronc when you actually ask them to do something. It is so much easier to dictate everything from day 1. Even on that first ride, they need to go the speed you want them to go and in the direction that you want them to go. It is up to you, as a trainer, to decide what they are ready for. If they aren't ready to trot circles, then fine, let them walk around but they need to go and stop when you tell them to and turn in the direction that you want to go. If you do this, you will get them broke so much quicker and they will generally be more willing to do exactly what you tell them to do instead of having their own ideas.

Edited to add: No young horse likes the bit the first few times. Just because you put a youngster in a snaffle and they act upset, don't just throw it into the "can't use that" pile. Work them through it. Get their attention back on you, give their mind something to think about other than that thing in their mouth and soon, you will find you have a horse that is quiet on the bit and doesn't mind being bridled simply because they know it is inevitible.

mbender 09-21-2010 07:19 PM


MacabreMikolaj 09-21-2010 07:27 PM

HURRAY! I love you girl, your posts are the best.

I agree - almost every youngster is going to go through a "not liking the bit" phase. What would you do if someone strapped something in your mouth? I have only once in my life now seen a horse that would not accept the bit period - you can ride her in one, but she WILL get her tongue over it and stick it out the side and fuss the whole time.

I will not be "cautious" around my horses. After they learn what a saddle is, I will heave it up into the air and into their backs like a 20 year old dead broke horse. Yeah they may flinch a bit, but they learn fast I'll never let it slam on their backs and get over it quickly. The bigger and more delibrate your movements are, the more you "desensitize" them. It makes me laugh how people are on this huge desensitization kick and yet the BEST desensitization is simply treating them like you would your broke horse - instill that confidence that you expect of them instead of EXPECTING them to blow!

I got my one and only miniature fit from Jynx our second ride when she was still refusing to move forward - got my reins across her ass and she bolted with a half crowhop and almost skidded into the fence. Presto - stuck was unstuck and progress was made! I haven't had a single problem since with her offering to buck or blow - a few spooks, a couple miniature bolts, but all normal youngster shenanigins!

The sooner you lay that foundation, the sooner you can get down to real work, real trust and real respect.

wild_spot 09-21-2010 07:47 PM

Amen, especially on the bit part!
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MyBoyPuck 09-21-2010 07:48 PM

Good post. I do cringe when I read an opening line that says something like "I'm training my first horse and it's a 2 year old". These are horses, not puppies. If you don't know what you're doing, you could get reaaaallly hurt.

Plains Drifter 09-21-2010 08:00 PM

Way to go Smrobs!!! :) <cheer>

reining girl 09-21-2010 08:03 PM

Amir 09-21-2010 08:37 PM

AWESOME post Smrobs :D

And MacabreMikolaj, "It makes me laugh how people are on this huge desensitization kick and yet the BEST desensitization is simply treating them like you would your broke horse - instill that confidence that you expect of them instead of EXPECTING them to blow!"

I couldn't agree more with that statement!
Since I got my boy at 2 years 10 months as a green broke horse (literally just came back from being broken 2 weeks before I looked at him) I've treated him like any other broke horse. People thought I was nuts doing that, but he's never done anything bad enough to throw me off or hurt me badly.
Don't *****foot around, just do what you want to do and they'll get over it!

maura 09-21-2010 08:43 PM

Awesome post!

And, piggybacking on MM, "densensitizing" used to be a perfectly useful term, meaning exposing a young horse to a lot of different stimuli in a controlled setting, or, lots of wet saddle pads. Now it has taken on a new, different Natural Horsemanship meaning have something to do with plastic bags.

sarahver 09-21-2010 10:02 PM

Loved this. My other favourite thing people say: "Oh yeah I broke him myself he is such a good horse to ride, now I just need you to teach him how to trot and canter under saddle."

Ummm, do people realize that walking a horse in a round pen with a saddle on does NOT equal broke to ride?

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