Today I’m welcoming a guest post from Emily Davis from Cheval Liberté on training tips for young horses. I’ve never started a horse from scratch, but I have had the fun of restarting several OTTBs. Two things I might add to her list, based on my experience are : Work with a trainer. After I brought home my first ex-racehorse, I was lucky enough to work with a trainer who had lots of experience restarting horses from the track. I had her train both of us for several months and by the end, I had a horse that was going nicely under saddle and I had a program of exercises and tools to bring to the next horse. And remember to praise even the smallest effort. Build on successes and your horse will be a happy learner!
Now, on to Emily’s article (but please, before you send me a request for a guest post, please understand that I will not post any articles with links to gambling organizations. That’s not what Equine Ink is about.
Training a young horse is something we, as horse owners, approach with dread and pessimism. We’re sharing our top quick tips to easily add into your training program to encourage a stress-free schooling experience.
Rule one of training a young horse is to take your time and be patient. Shorter, regular schooling sessions are far more effective for young horses due to their tendency to lose concentration and tire quickly. Ideally, train 5 times a week for 10 – 20 minutes.
2. Have a plan
Approach training with clarity, what you want from your horse? It is important to reward them when these goals are achieved. It’s easy to grow frustrated when its not going so well, but it’s vital not to lose your temper. Your negativity will pass onto your horse and encourage them to worry and not absorb what you’re attempting to teach them effectively.
3. Safety first
Young horses can be very unpredictable and in a new situation can be easily spooked or frighten. Therefore, wearing a hat and body protector when mounted is essential. We’d also recommend wearing safety gear when handling. Be sensible about your footwear and dress, avoid flip-flops, sandals, mesh or any thin shoes and avoid wearing anything with dangling or bold features that may alarm your horse or get caught up whilst training.
To avoid damaging or growing out of a saddle, owners tend to use cheaper, older ones on their young horse. However, this can cause all sorts of problems when schooling. Poorly fitted saddles can cause your horse pain and discomfort, leading to serious physical issues such as lameness. A horse that suffers from saddle or bridle caused pain can develop a phobia of being tacked up or ridden, causing chaos before your training session has even begun!
5. Firm but fair
Getting the balance between making your horse comfortable and not letting them do their own thing and walk all over you is a difficult thing to achieve. A horse who’s in charge can develop bad habits that make handling and riding them dangerous. So how do you do it? Trust. Growing mutual respect between horse and owner by rewarding success will develop trust. You will be far more successful through trust than fear due to their always being something your horse fears more than you. If they trust you, they’ll ask you what to do when feeling such worry, from which you can take control and guide them to the achievement you desire.
6. Prepare Them
Avoid throwing your young horse in at the deep end. Allowing them to see and experience more things will make them less likely to spook as they progress into competitions and ridden work. Understand what your horse is finding scary and don’t push them to face it straightaway. If you push them too hard, you’ll have a battle on your hands resulting in an unhappy horse and rider. Encourage them to gradually approach what they fear and when they do this calmly reward them, this will build a positive relationship between them and the factor.
Stretching before, during and after training will encourage your horse to relax. It will assist in building their topline muscles, growing their strength and so physical capabilities when carrying out training exercises. Encourage your horse to take their neck forwards and down and stretch the muscles over their back.
Emily Davis works at Cheval Liberte as community manager. Cheval Liberté have been designing, developing and producing stalls, stables and stable equipment since 1995, Driven by their passion for horses, Cheval Liberté was founded by both riders and breeders and since 2005 this passion has been implemented in the UK, with our North Wales company being the sole importers of Cheval Liberté products for distribution and erection throughout the UK & Ireland.