Time it takes to train a horse - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 02-19-2016, 01:45 AM Thread Starter
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Time it takes to train a horse

So I've been reading other threads and I was wondering how long it should take to train a horse.
So consider this theoretical situation. There is a young female horse (she's 9, is the correct term mare?) and she is very calm and eager to learn. She hasn't had much training but is used to the halter and has just barely started under saddle. How long should it take to train her?
Say if I wanted to go in a jumper and dressage direction. This is all theoretical of course. Don't worry, I wouldn't dream of training a horse at this stage of the game. I'll stick to my huskies.

And also, what is the difference between love and respect in this world? What does it mean to have a horse love you?
What does it mean to have a horse respect you?
Which is more important?
Do they go hand and hand?

There is this gelding at my stable. He respects this one rider but only does the bare minimum. Listens but other than that not much. Then there is this other rider, I may not be an expert but I think he has affection for this one. He is always sticking to her and seems to put an extra effort in everything he does when she rides him.
At a competition he refused every jump with the first girl except for one. But he only jumped it because it was near the second girl.
When it comes down to it which is more important? Love or respect?
It seems you can have respect without love but not love without respect.

Also, are bits ethical? I know that is what everybody uses, but is it right? You are basically hurting a horse till it listens, that doesn't seems like sugar and spice. I've heard some vets bash bits and say bitless bridles are better. The bite sized vegan on YouTube did a video about it. I know some bits are harsher than other. Thanks to anybody who answers my numerous questions:)

Last edited by Foxhunter; 02-19-2016 at 08:34 AM.
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post #2 of 8 Old 02-19-2016, 04:01 AM
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Try not to think of horses in terms of human emotions. Horses don't feel love like people do.

Respect means that a horse recognises a person is "above them" in the herd and that they are required to follow their direction.

Training... well it depends on what level you want to compete at. Not to forget that the rider needs training as well to be part of a successful team.

The story you told about the gelding is likely about respect. One rider probably had better and more consistant skills resulting in a horse that responded better. Also, horses like having clear leadership. They feel more comfortable and happy and will stick with someone they view as a leader because its safer for them.

Bits are as kind or harsh as the hands that use them.
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post #3 of 8 Old 02-19-2016, 05:15 AM
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As far as training, it can take maybe sixty days to train a horse decently to saddle and riding. It takes a lifetime of tweaking. Being as you are training a horse every time you are handling and riding, it can take about two weeks for someone who has never handled horses without training themselves to train them into some really bad and dangerous habits.

Love and respect, well, not the same as we see it. You can get a horse to do what you want sometimes without it respecting you. You can bully it into doing something for a short time. When a horse respects you, it basically means that it sees you as the leader. The one who makes good and fare decisions. The one who is calm, the one who takes them away from danger, the one who shows them when something really isn't dangerous, the one who communicates clearly and precisely, and the one who shows them to the good food spots. If you watch a large herd and see the dynamics, you will see that there may be submissive ones, ones in the middle and the lead horse. You may also see the cranky one who is a bully and can be kind of mean. Everyone will stay away from the bully. They will move away from this bully or else get kicked or bitten but also no one wants to hang out with them either. They will also move when the lead says move but they will also hang out with, eat with, and groom with the leader.
Love? horses love food and they love scratches.

As far as bits are concerned, any bit can be ethical or cruel depending on who's hands are using them. In my opinion, bits are to be for giving signals so the horse know what you want. Some people, intentionally or not, can use them as torture devices.

Last edited by LoriF; 02-19-2016 at 05:24 AM.
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post #4 of 8 Old 02-19-2016, 08:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoyaGreenJumper View Post
So I've been reading other threads and I was wondering how long it should take to train a horse. So consider this theoretical situation. There is a young female horse (she's 9, is the correct term mare?) and she is very calm and eager to learn. She hasn't had much training but is used to the halter and has just barely started under saddle. How long should it take to train her? Say if I wanted to go in a jumper and dressage direction.
The short answer is: "It depends". The long answer is that training horses is like training children. In a math class you have kids that pick up concepts easily and quickly, kids that struggle with concepts and kids that are average, they learn them at a steady pace with some reminders. The same goes for horses. I've had horses that had sixty days under saddle and picked it up quickly and were darn near "broke", I've also had horses that didn't pick up concepts until they had been doing the material for 2+ years. I've learned with horses to assume that basic training will take 90+ days, and anything with finer detail will take the rest of their lives.

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Originally Posted by GoyaGreenJumper View Post
And also, what is the difference between love and respect in this world? Do they go hand and hand?
LOVE is an emotion, RESPECT is a 'terms of agreement' between a horse and rider. You cannot proceed working with a horse until that horse has clicked the: "I agree to the riders terms of agreement" button.

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Originally Posted by GoyaGreenJumper View Post
What does it mean to have a horse love you? What does it mean to have a horse respect you? Which is more important? When it comes down to it which is more important? Love or respect?
Love and respect go hand in hand. I'll rank them in order of priority: 1st comes respect, then comes love. Respect is a two way street, a good horseman needs to have respect for the horse. They need to always remember that this is a 1,000+# animal that could very easily leave you to die. BUT we also need to require that the horse show us respect. Just because it CAN doesn't mean that it SHOULD.

When a horse respects you they should never step into your space without your approval, they should not offer to kick/rear/bite or otherwise harm you. Even if that horse hates you (and I have had a couple of horses loathe me) they should never try anything to harm you.

Love is a tricky thing. I do believe horses 'love' in their own way, but I believe love comes from great leadership which leads to great respect. A horse doesn't have to love me to work with me. For example: My colt has an enormous amount of respect for me. If I tell him to jump off a cliff he'll do it because he respects and trusts me to do so. Do I think he loves me? I dunno. We've not been partners in work for too long. I suppose in his own way he loves me as his leader. Love in horses comes from time and respect. My old mare I can say did love me 100%. She would have died for me and proved it on some accounts. BUT she had an enormous amount of respect for me YEARS before I ever got the inkling she loved me.

In short, they're both important, and they both stem from one another. I think though it is healthy to keep in mind that your goal should not be to get a horse to love you, but to get its respect and to be a good leader.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoyaGreenJumper View Post
are bits ethical?
Yes. Bits are ethical, good soft hands will make or break the bit. If you have bouncy, hard, hands then no: a bit is not ethical. If you have soft hands then: yes, they are.
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post #5 of 8 Old 02-19-2016, 08:37 AM
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The time it takes is the time it takes.
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post #6 of 8 Old 02-19-2016, 10:20 AM
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Incitatus covered it very well.
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post #7 of 8 Old 02-19-2016, 11:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoyaGreenJumper View Post
So I've been reading other threads and I was wondering how long it should take to train a horse.
The honest answer?

It's takes FOREVER to train a horse. Literally.

Yes, my horses are "broke" and they are "trained" but we are always working (training) on something new and/or advancing what the horse knows and/or what I know.

Training and learning are a lifelong endeavor. There's always something we can improve on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoyaGreenJumper View Post
So consider this theoretical situation. There is a young female horse (she's 9, is the correct term mare?) and she is very calm and eager to learn. She hasn't had much training but is used to the halter and has just barely started under saddle. How long should it take to train her?
It will depend on the horse. Some horses will be going nicely (walk, trot, canter, soft to the aides) in 30 to 60 days. Others will need 120 days or longer.

And even that is most likely going to be green broke and not at all finished.

And for the record, a 9-year-old horse isn't really "young". They're more getting to the prime of their life. I'd say "young" is going to be under the age of 5 or 6.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoyaGreenJumper View Post
Say if I wanted to go in a jumper and dressage direction.
If you are looking for more specialized training like jumping or dressage, it takes YEARS to achieve correct training in those things.

Dressage is a great example of life-long learning. There are different levels and it takes years to progress to each advancing levels.


Quote:
Originally Posted by GoyaGreenJumper View Post
And also, what is the difference between love and respect in this world? What does it mean to have a horse love you?
What does it mean to have a horse respect you?
Which is more important?
Do they go hand and hand?
Horses are not humans. They don't feel or share emotions like we do, although we sometimes use human emotions to describe horses, even though it's not really correct to do so.

I will take RESPECT from a horse over "love" any day of the week. A respectful horse is going to do what I ask in a safe and willing way.

Love? I may try to say my horse loves me, but I guarantee he'll choose a stranger with a bucket of grain, over me. Horses are horses. Animal instincts are important to them, including food.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoyaGreenJumper View Post
There is this gelding at my stable. He respects this one rider but only does the bare minimum. Listens but other than that not much. Then there is this other rider, I may not be an expert but I think he has affection for this one. He is always sticking to her and seems to put an extra effort in everything he does when she rides him.
At a competition he refused every jump with the first girl except for one. But he only jumped it because it was near the second girl.
I highly doubt the horse did the jump because he was near the second girl.

It is true that some people don't get along with certain horses. And that there are some people that are able to "read" a horse well and get along with most any horse. Even though horses are NOT human, they do have their own personalities, quirks, and tendencies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoyaGreenJumper View Post
Also, are bits ethical? I know that is what everybody uses, but is it right? You are basically hurting a horse till it listens, that doesn't seems like sugar and spice. I've heard some vets bash bits and say bitless bridles are better. The bite sized vegan on YouTube did a video about it. I know some bits are harsher than other.
Of course bits are ethical.

Why do you have the notion that bits HURT a horse? Honestly, that's a ridiculous way of thinking.

When you put a hat on your head, does that hurt? (Maybe if you are wearing a hat that is too small for your head.)

When you put on a belt, does that hurt? (Maybe it could be uncomfortable if you make it way too tight.)

Bits and other tack items (including halters and bitless bridles) are just that: TACK. Yes, if they are used with harsh hands and used in the wrong way, they can hurt a horse. But it's not the item that hurts the horse; it's the person behind it.

Any piece of tack can be hurtful to a horse *IF* the rider does not use it correctly.

If a bit is used correctly as it was intended, they do not cause any pain.

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post #8 of 8 Old 02-19-2016, 12:05 PM
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How much time is required to train depends on the trainers level of experience and their knowledge of horse behavior. As you gain experience you become more efficient. For example today 90% of the horses I start under saddle can be ridden at W/T/C, make some turns, back up, stop and possibly even drag a calf while ridden in open country within the first two weeks of training, but I have been doing this for over 30 years. When I first started it took be more than double that amount of time to get the same results because I did not have the knowledge, timing or feel required to be efficient at the task.

Horses tolerate us and depend on us for care because we chose to keep them captive, they don’t love us. They love to be left alone with other horses so they can just be a horse.

Respect and trust from a horse is important to keep us the human safe and to allow us to give direction to the horse to keep them safe.

Bits or any training device are only as ethical as the human behind them. Any training tool can be used as a weapon in the wrong hands.
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