Starting 5 yr old mare over - The Horse Forum
  • 1 Post By Shelbye720
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post #1 of 4 Old 09-11-2019, 08:21 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2019
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Starting 5 yr old mare over

After losing my amazing steady eddy horse tragically, I was faced with the reality of looking for a new horse. I was willing to pay whatever within reason to find that perfect middle aged, super broke, safe, gentle horse. Sadly every “perfect” advertised horse I tried was NOT as advertised.

Two weeks ago I ended up finding a 5 yr old mare (the exact opposite of everything I thought I wanted) that I fell in love with. This is a one of a kind mare that is very brave, calm, gentle etc. the BEST disposition you could find in a horse. She is broke and after refreshing her with two weeks of ground work, she knows how to do it all well, happily, willingly etc. The catch is bc she is only 5, and I don’t know much about her training history, she does have holes in her riding training. She seems to initially fight pressure, but once she gives she is very light after the initial brace on the bit... specifically turning and stopping. She also does not ride off seat/leg at all.

I have decided to tackle this by starting at square one. I’ve started with groundwork and now working my way into “training” rides in our outdoor arena. ( I am training her to just be my play day/trail horse and possibly do obstacle courses for fun) I have put her in a D-Ring snaffle (was told previously she was ridden in a jr. cow horse, but feel like something harsher may have been used prior) Riding her in the snaffle this first time I felt like I had very little steering/control. I’m hoping with each ride she becomes more responsive to it.

Just reaching out to see what kind of tips, tricks, advice you guys may have for my situation. Best exercises to do in arena? My main goal is to get her riding off seat/leg and becoming light and responsive to the bit.
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Shelbye720 is offline  
post #2 of 4 Old 09-11-2019, 09:23 PM
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: Michigan
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Transitions, transitions, transitions... with a young horse, I firmly believe the most important things are good brakes, a responsive gas pedal, and the beginnings of a good work ethic. With my horse that I broke out this spring, we are around our 10th ride and are still focusing on whoa, walk, and trot. Once she becomes balanced and confident going between those gaits, cantering will come into play, but until then we are just working on relaxation and responsiveness. I'm not expecting perfection with steering, but we are incorporating turning around and serpentining through obstacles; I will worry more about more advanced steering once she becomes more balanced and relaxed with a rider.

On the opposite end of the spectrum with a well broke horse, transitions can always use a refresher. My retired show horse is now mainly a horse for my boyfriend to learn on and trail ride, but every few rides I hop on and remind him that I still expect responsiveness despite mostly being ridden by a beginner. If I don't remind him once in a while what is expected still, he isn't going to remain the ideal steady-eddy for my boyfriend.

It sounds like your horse is between both of my horses; I'm assuming she is comfortable with a rider enough to not be considered a greenie, but she still has things to learn. Some things she may need just a refresher on, whereas others she may need to be taught. I would start with simple transition work; walk, stop, trot, walk, stop, trot, stop... This can be done in the arena or on the trails if you are comfortable. Once she is getting transitions alone, start doing them around obstacles; walk around the barrel, trot to the tree, stop, back three steps, do a figure eight between cones... Really the possibilities are endless at this stage, and if you keep changing things up and changing the scenery, she probably won't get too bored and neither will you. While working on these things, start teaching her how you expect her to be ridden, whether it be mainly off of seat for brakes, legs for steering...whatever you would like.

However, one thing you could change is that if she has issues steering with a plain d-ring, you could try a full cheek snaffle instead. I usually do my first couple of rides on a horse in a rope halter, and then step up to a full cheek, and eventually into a d-ring. If you ever consider showing where a shanked bit is required, the time to begin introducing neck reining is now, but I personally don't worry about it because I vastly prefer english competitions and gaming events that don't have requirements.

Toofine - 1998 Half Arabian
Minnie - 2013 Morgan
ClearDonkey is offline  
post #3 of 4 Old 09-11-2019, 09:26 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
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I look forward to regular updates . . and perhaps a photo?
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post #4 of 4 Old 09-12-2019, 07:17 AM
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Virginia
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Any horse that is brought to me with claims of previous training gets started over. I do this so I can see what I have to work with and what direction I need to take in training. Horses are honest and they will always show you what they know if you know what to look for. I use the round pen and arena as little as possible because horses know when they are confined. When making a well-rounded horse its best to get them out into the real world and expose them to they type of riding conditions you plan to use them in as soon as possible. This of course is dependent on your ability and confidence as a rider.

In terms of bits it really depends on how you use them. If you do switch bits just keep in mind some re-training may be required. With horses I train for the public we usually start in a snaffle for training the fundamentals.

Best of luck
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