Working Young Horses

Discussion in 'Training Horses' started by Little Bean, Sep 30, 2013.

  1. Little Bean

    Little Bean Well-known Member

    Just wondering how often people work their young horses (3yr olds particularly)?

    If broken in how often do you ride them and what kind of work do you ask of them under saddle?

    If not broken in what kind of work do you do on the ground?

    And what combination of ground work and riding eg: days per week?

    I don't want this to turn into a how old should they be when they get started debate I'm just interested to know what people do with their own young horses not opinions ;)

  2. retroremedy

    retroremedy Well-known Member

    Our 2 year olds where started as 2.5 year olds and worked for 60 days straight and then went on spell. Both are now 3 and get ridden 4-6 days a week (mind you the rain has been a real pain with this schedule lately!) ground work first for 5-10 minutes, warm up is walk, trot and canter (mostly canter) on a nice loose rein for about 15-20 minutes until they are nice, forward, relaxed and responsive (stage 1 of training scale)....also helps with fitness. Just laps of the arena and nice big circles. Then when that gets a big tick we start with steering exercises at walk, trot and canter, until you get nice soft responsive turns and onto suppleness exercises, lots of transitions etc (stage 2 training scale). It is only when this has been achieved that we pick up any contact and connect them up (stage 3 of training scale). As young horses we slowly build them up in the time they can maintain contact/lifting their bellies etc...key is to never move onto the next step until each stage results in a relaxed responsive horse. Lots of canter and work on a loose rein is great for their heads and relaxation about work, all our horses are cantered from the day they are first ridden. The worse advice I have seen people receive is to not canter their horses or that a horse need slots of trot work before it can canter.....or the worst of the worst which is just to canter the horse for 3 strides and that is it....these methods just end up potentially with a horse with anxiety about canter and that anxiety spreads through the rest of their ridden work. The other important ingredient is consistent regular work, horses thrive on consistency. In regards to time, on average 40-60 minutes, but you always quit on a good note!

    Oops forgot to say what I do with groundwork : responsive exercises such as yielding the HQ, FQ, back up etc and then a lot of desensitising with rope, whips, plastic bags, tarps etc in all areas of the arena.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2013
  3. Tam

    Tam Well-known Member

    3-4 year old Warmblood when he's not busy being injured after doing stupid things.. 5 days a week, ten minute lunge, ridden for about 20- 25 minutes. Initially i was doing 3 days a week but found he then had to be lunged for a little longer which i don't really like at his age. Before he gave himself a splint recently the 5 days of light work a week was working beautifully.
  4. Little Bean

    Little Bean Well-known Member

    Thanks guys, very interesting Retroremedy. I am one that held off cantering my now 4 yr old as she was such a clumsy creature I felt better knowing that the trot was safe before going up a gear :eek: she's pretty good now and thankfully isn't worried about cantering but then she did do track work as a 2 yr old.

    My 3yr old has been home from the breakers for a week and we had a little ride yesterday and today not long in the saddle but constructive. I am now faced with a pony (14.1ish) who is only just 3 that thrives on the riding but a head that says go steady she's still growing.

    Retroremedy what do you do with your horses?
  5. retroremedy

    retroremedy Well-known Member

    If your 4 year old started life being considered a race horse then a lot of cantering would have been done early on :). Trot is great for lots of things but only canter can improve canter :)

    We do dressage and western sports....some might think that they are poles part but foundation training is identical :)

    Just get on and ride her LB, giving a horse a job is great for them physically and mentally!
  6. South Boulder Boy

    South Boulder Boy Well-known Member

    Our babies come in from the breakers and straight into 6 days a weeks work. To start with they learn how to go nicely forward, they go out with older confident horses and learn to not worry about the scary bush. They only trot and walk to begin with. The trot track is ~30min round trip that includes corners and one hill that has to be walked up and down twice. The babies always struggle with this and its quite a big ask for an unfit horse hence no cantering until fit (usually about 3-5weeks for a baby fresh from the breaker, if coming off spell and they already been in before the time to canter is shorter as they already have learnt all the other stuff so its just fitness). Once going confidently forward they are taught to carry themselves, but it doesn't have to be perfect right away, there is no jamming that head down asap.

    When they can handle the trot track well they go for their first canter. I've not timed the actual pacework track but I'd say its ~10minutes going slow and steady. First time they just have to get up there and stay in canter the whole way (its uphill). From there it's canter work 3 times a week slowly building to pacework. Then depending how many horses are in work they will go to track twice a week and canter at home once a week (some go to track before reaching pacework), every other day is trot work unless I train them for beach (usually we only take the ones who really need it though ie tendon injuries). If they are beach trained then they don't trot out and instead beach 3 times a week. They are taught to carry and lift themselves up the pacework hill. Then depending on how well they can handle the work and how mature their mind and body is they either go out to spell or trial and then spell.
  7. myyky

    myyky Well-known Member

    Retro, would you suggest canter work for a young stb as well when green broken? Sox' trot isn't terribly unbalanced.. But I was going to work on trot until it was good then ask for the extra gear. Do you think I'd be better off introducing some canter work now?
  8. retroremedy

    retroremedy Well-known Member

    Absolutely Mykky but in your case with a horse that might not necessarily have been encouraged to canter I would recommend a number of sessions round penning to Instill the canter cue and to clock up cantering time. The only way to get balance in canter is to canter and the round yard is a fabulous tool to get canter developed. We teach a kiss cue to canter so you can transfer the cue easily to under saddle. One of my 3 year olds was a horse that preferred to trot prior to starting but after a series of round penning sessions we established canter (one session to teach the canter cue and another 4 to clock up canter time), he got lots of practise and he got really relaxed about the pace. He was cantered under saddle on his first ride and it was no problem as the preparation for the pace from there! This horse today has the most beautiful relaxed canter, has a walk to canter, canter walk, halt to canter and canter halt, he loves to canter and he is only 3 :). So basically I would just treat your lovely STB as if it was being started for the first time and make sure the ground preparation was there to make your canter successful....hope that helps!

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