Starting my almost 3 yr old under saddle!! Tips?? - The Horse Forum
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Old 01-27-2020, 03:02 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: Texas
Posts: 48
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Arrow Starting my almost 3 yr old under saddle!! Tips??

Hey y'all!!

I'm going to be starting my almost 3yr old Filly this summer! And I thought I'd see what tips y'all have? This will be my first time Colt starting! I'm super excited to do this with my wonderful trainer.
What have you found to work for you when starting your young ones?
What are some things I need to be ready for?
I've worked with lots of green horses, but never actually started from the ground up. What should I expect??

Thanks so much!!

My filly is a Appaloosa/Quarter Horse cross, almost 15hh, and a complete doll! But she does have some sass.

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Old 01-27-2020, 03:05 PM
Green Broke
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What have you done with her so far?
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Old 01-27-2020, 03:15 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: Texas
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She know's all the groundwork basics.

Leading, backing, lunging both directions at the walk, trot, canter.
Loads into the trailer, yeilds to the front and back.

Stands tied to be groomed, and saddled. Picks up hooves, stands for farrier.

She'll even take a bit, but I want to start her bitless.

I have fully tightened the cinch twice with no issues.

and she has been lunged fully tacked twice.

She's gone through basic desensitization.
Not scared of tarps, bags, popping noises, umbrellas, dogs, tractors, moving vehicles, etc.

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Old 01-28-2020, 04:44 AM
Green Broke
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Sounds great. With mine I get on bareback first when they are just standing and chilling, then gradually move to walking a few steps. Then it is getting on with a saddle and going from there. I school in an area first gradually building up to a few canter strides and then move into my field so I know ok in open spaces. Then I start hacking out on quiet roads to meet some traffic before moving on to busy roads (in company with other horses). Roads probably are not your concern, but in the UK we have to have quiet horses with double decker buses and huge tractors passing close by.
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Old 02-04-2020, 08:08 AM
Join Date: Mar 2014
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Every horse is different and regardless of ground preparation you never know what to expect on the first ride. I do just enough ground preparation to prepare the horse for success on the first ride. How much ground work depends on a trainers experience and the individual horse your working with. I want a colt to accept the saddle & move out well at the W/T/C from a verbal cue. When I see a colt can carry the saddle at the walk/trot/canter in both directions & stay relaxed consistently then they are ready for me to make the first ride. Prior to this I also start introducing some weight to the stirrup each day & will build up to leaning across the off side to get them ready for my leg swinging over the saddle. This way itís not completely new to them the day of the first ride. Even with significant ground preparation you really donít know how a horse might react with a rider on their back for the first time. To be a good colt starter you need to be calm & confident in the saddle. If you are nervous or tense the horse will pick up on it.

Best luck,
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Old 02-04-2020, 02:31 PM
Join Date: Feb 2020
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I just started my new 3 year old filly and we took it nice and slow. The first time anyone got on her, was at the beginning of November. I started basic ground work training with her, like you have done and she was amazing. A method I swear by when starting a horse, is long lining. It is basically two lunge line attached the the bit, or a buckle on a bitless, and goes through the stirrups of the saddle. I would recommend starting this in a round pin so they can get the hang of it. This helps them get the feel of the bit in their mouth and the pressure with contact. It is basically riding your horse, but from the ground. After a couple of weeks of doing this with her, I would walk around with her while I was on her, and then I would long line her for a bit after. This helped her understand how how to steer and halt, etc. I then began regularly riding her alone in an arena, and she loved it. I started trotting her and doing transitions from walk to trot, to trot to walk on the long sides and circling in the corners, and she picked up very well. I then began to canter her under saddle and do the same thing as I did with trotting with the transitions, circles, serpentine's, figure 8's, poles, etc. I did a lot of these exercises so she can get a feel of training, contact and so she didn't get bored. I spend about 2 hours working with. For the first 20 mins, I trot and walk her in circles and figure 8's, then I go onto cantering to trotting and trotting to cantering and then to walking. It helps her listen and staying connected with you. After she works and I can tell she is starting to breathe heavy, I walk her on a loose rein and let her stretch her head, after she cools down a bit i continue to trot her on a loose rein and repeat the same exercises, with a lot more walking and stretching after the first hour. She absolutely loves it, she wants to go and she always want me to take her for a ride or for me to groom her. I just recently started jumping her very small cross rails. And she does not want to stop at the end of training. I took me 2 and a half months to get a horse that has never been saddled to been able to jump on a loose rein and activate her hind when told. It honestly depend on the horse, but do not rush it. I knew my horse and spent a lot of time with her to understand her. I knew she was ready because she was picking up simple commands with easy and wanted to do more. If you ever need help, I know i'm not a horse trainer, but I would love to answer any questions or just talk if you want. :))
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Old 02-09-2020, 05:49 AM
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Not training advice exactly, but go easy. While I know full well people start horses younger too - and 'work' them very hard, such as racehorses - a 3yo is still quite physically immature and 'green' skeletally, which means that bones & joints can be easily & seriously damaged by weightbearing & 'high impact' type stuff. There's a reason(well, more than one) most racehorses don't have a long, sound life...

I'm not saying starting a 3yo *carefully & considerately* under saddle is necessarily bad. And exercise generally - the more 'low impact' the better - is a good thing. Just read up on their physical, not just mental development & consider all factors to ensure you don't do harm in starting her at that age.

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Old 02-09-2020, 09:24 AM
Join Date: Jul 2015
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What Loosie said.

Growth plates at the ends of the bones of horses close at predictable rates, starting with the feet before a year of age, and proceeding upward through the joints. The last place horses' skeletons are fully mature and solid is their spines at between five to seven years of age. Exactly where you put weight on. It doesn't make any difference how mature a horse might look or act or where they are in their training, growth plates can be damaged as long as those bones are not 'finished'.

This is something everyone starting young horses should always bear in mind.

There is a reason why an old fashioned way of starting horses is to drive them for a couple before riding training. There is a lot you can do with a young horse besides riding.
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Old 02-09-2020, 11:48 AM
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My mare was also 3 when I backed her for the first time.

I had the help of my trainer.

To get her ready to have a rider, we did a couple short sessions of me draped across her back to get her used to the weight without the scariness of someone sitting up on her.

I also ponied her a few times to get her used to a rider being up above her.

In addition to all the ground work, the first time actually sitting on her was a non event. She was lead around the arena and then we graduated to a lunge line.

I agree with starting them slow as well. I backed my mare when she was 3, but it wasn't until she was 5 that she was actually getting worked. She is 6 now and I still think she is pretty green, but I'd rather go slow than rush and end up with a lame horse.

I am hoping this year will be the year I actually get her into shape...LOL
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Old 02-09-2020, 11:50 AM
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oh....forgot to also add mental maturity. My sessions with my mare were very short & sweet and always ended positively....she wasn't mentally mature enough to handle long, drawn out training sessions where she was being challenged the entire time.
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colt starting , filly , horse , natural horsemanship , training

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