Important Tips on Training Young Horses

1. Don’t fret over mistakes, know how to help the horse understand what you want or seek help from a qualified professional.

2. Training horses isn’t all smooth sailing, trust your trainer and stay with the program long enough to see the results.

3. Do your research on getting a trainer that will fit your needs. Look at show records, history and watch how the trainer works. Ask if you can sit in on some training rides or lessons to see if that person is a good fit for you and your horse. Recognize sitting in on a training session is a privilege and be appreciative to get a behind the scenes look into a barn before making your decision.

4. Young horses need black and white consistency. Horses on average are 1200-1800 lbs. of will power and strength. Give great thought to everything you do and be sure to realize on a daily basis that consistency comes with mileage. Good training creates maturity from your horse over time. Don’t expect a 4-year-old to be the same everyday and don’t bore them with the same work everyday. Keep it fun so they enjoy learning.

5. Expect resistances as training progresses. There will be resistances! What’s important is you think your way through the resistance so the horse learns and realizes when he’s done it right. REWARD AND STOP ASKING THE QUESTION WHEN THEY DO AS YOU WANT.

6. If you have an idea for the day on how to ride your horse, or if you have a specific goal in mind that is good. However it’s critical to good training that you are willing to change the plan. Not necessarily the “subject” but change the way you explain to a horse how you want them to go. This is a simple way to make everyday a successful day.

A few examples of this:

If I want to work on counter canter but my horse is struggling one direction I might decide to exercise the canter more in true lead or I may work on counter canter position in trot. Often horses have no trouble obeying for counter canter but they can often struggle with keeping their body straight and understanding how to allow you to control their shoulders and hips. It can be helpful for both horse and rider to ride counter canter position in trot.

Another example:

If I’m riding a young horse and they feel too fresh to learn. In other words I can’t get their mind to come to me and listen. At that time I may decide to dismount and work the horse from the ground a bit more and get back on or I may decide to relax the horse and try again later in the day or the next day. Always remember a nervous or tense horse can not learn, and a horse that is too fresh can not learn. Lunging and ground work can help with this. Experience lets us know if the horse is just being rude and bossy or really isn’t understanding our questions. Sometimes it can even be a combination. All this decision making takes experience and a good eye on the ground.

7. Young horses have ups and downs so realize it all takes time. The building blocks of the basics are critical. Some basics that can’t be skipped are stopping and going. Simple halts to walk or trot. Turn on the forehand is difficult for people to learn but young horses must know this as it’s the basis for everything. Ground work and manors. Jogging properly and basics from the ground for piaffe.

8. Excepting and trusting the whip and side reins. The whip is not to punish but is a necessary tool to help teach the horse forwardness and timing. The whip can also be used to help move different parts of the horses body from their hind legs to their shoulders. Be sure your young horse is exposed to the whip to know it will never punish or hurt them. Second teach them to move away from the whip both through using it for turn on the forehand from the ground and also use it to teach them to jog forward along side of you.

Remember ask often expect little or nothing and reward generously.