Specialist topic - starting a young horse

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Western Ranch

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Day 15


There was a noticeable big change in Hamid today, a real breakthrough. This was the first day he acted like a 'normal' young horse. Erwin was able to ride him; put leg pressure on, take more control with the reins. Hamid is exploring boundaries, like most green horses do. He is leaning into the pressure instead of running from it. He is now listening to the aids and dealing with them instead of being afraid of every move from the rider. Now we can really work with him. He responds well to the stop, makes his transitions with more ease, steers better in the trot. He even did his first step back. This was a good day.
 

Western Ranch

Active Member
Day 16


Today we had a visitor watching and it was very windy. Hamid responded by being a bit jumpy. He didn't want to take the bridle like before. So that was a little set back. After a great ride yesterday your expectations are up. And then it's always a disappointment taking a step back. But Hamid surprised us again. As soon as Erwin was in the saddle he was relaxed. He is actually getting very responsive to the aids. He showed us that he has lots of movement, elevation and 'swung'. He also showed us he remembered the back up lesson. After about 20 minutes Erwin dismounted without me holding Hamid for the first time. He also got on again from the ground by himself. Hamid stood perfectly still. When we first mount a young horse we use a mounting block. This way he can see you above him before sitting on his back, you can safely apply pressure in the stirrup and it is easier to get on. For the horse it is a lot more comfortable and better to keep his balance. If he's used to this we mount from the ground. Another step taken by Hamid.
 

Western Ranch

Active Member
Day 17


It feels like Hamid is another horse. He was so shy in the beginning but now he is just the most lovely horse. The training of a 'wild' horse takes a lot longer then a handled horse but when these horses give themselfs it is compleet. We have the confidence that his new owner will enjoy this very intelligent young man. Hamid is not a horse for a beginner, but he will make a lovely mount for an experienced, confident and gentle person. We hope he finds a loving home after we are ready with his training.
 

Western Ranch

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Day 18


Hamid is promoted! We started in the round yard and Hamid behaved very well. So it was time for him to explore the arena. He had been there before to check it out, just walking on a lead rope without a rider. Erwin got on him by himself and Hamid was eager to go. Erwin stopped him and first let him stand for a while. In the meantime I put some cones in the arena. After a few sessions in the round yard it gets to small to practice steering. It's harder to get enough impulsion to go through the bends and corners with forward motion. So we like to go to the next level of steering in the arena. Because of the bigger area (25 by 45 metre) the horse will be more forward by itself. We only start riding in the arena when a horse has a certain level of steering and stopping on him so it is safe to ride. Hamid is now ready for the next step.
 

Western Ranch

Active Member
Day 19


I'm not needed anymore. Erwin can get on Hamid and ride without me being there. Until we find it is fairly safe to ride a horse we are always there with 2 people. Just in case. Today was the second day in the arena. Erwin did a lot of trotting and steering with Hamid. This is the part our two dogs love. They run along the outside of the arena to try and catch up. Hamid wasn't fussed at all about them being there. What a difference to when we first got him! After the ride I loaded Hamid in the float. A lot of horses, like Hamid, don't like pressure from behind. They just lean into it. So I applied pressure on the halter and asked him to come forward. When he takes a step let go of the pressure. Let him stand for a bit and praise him. Then apply pressure again for the next step. Hamid backed up a couple of times, we just ask again. With Hamid it is just a matter of patience. He wants to get on but he is just not sure of himself yet. After about 15 min. he felt confident and walked all the way up. When in the float he got his reward; hay. Maybe the float isn't so scary after all!
 

Western Ranch

Active Member
Day 20


Since he was born, Hamid has lived with a herd of horses. At our place he is by himself. This was good in the beginning of his training because he couldn't hide behind other horses. He had to deal with us all by himself. But lately we see that he feels pretty lonely. We decided to put him in with our herd. Winchester the leader of geldings gave Hamid 2 nice big bite marks on his shoulder. Regardless Hamid looks a lot happier and is enjoying his day off in his new herd.
 

Western Ranch

Active Member
Day 21


Today we just repeated what we did the last couple of days; steering, transitions, bending, back up etc. We do this to build a good foundation before we introduce new steps. After a day of rest it is also good to check what Hamid still remembers and if there is something he forgot. In general horses are very smart, you can leave them and pick up where you stopped. When training young horse we prefer to work with them for about 6 consecutive weeks. After that they can have a spell. When you pick up work after a couple of months it only takes about 2 days and they are right at the point where you left off.
 

Western Ranch

Active Member
Day 22


When I wanted to bridle Hamid today he turned around and walked out of the stables. He stood there and waited for me to take him back. He was slowly getting better with putting the bridle on. That's why we gave him some more freedom (no halter, no tying) to see if he could handle that. Apparently he's not ready yet so we will be focusing on it again starting from tomorrow. In the arena he did a nice job. Walking, trotting, backing up and steering went well. We also did his first turns on the front and hind quarters. It seems that he won't have a problem with these things as he's listening very well to all the cues. I think he's up for a canter tomorrow.
 

Western Ranch

Active Member
Day 23


I set two goals for today; work on accepting the bridle and a canter. We started with the bridle. I decided to use a halter with the buckles done up for training him. He's perfect with the halter now and it's so easy to get him out of the paddock. So with both the buckles done up (on the last hole) I first put it on his nose and held the neck strap also on his nose. Then I went up in a few steps going forward and back from his nose, between his eyes and ears, to over his ears. After a while he accepted the halter, so I took the bridle and tried that. He took it without hassle so we went to saddling and riding. We'll continue this routing before we bridle him the next days. In the arena he was doing all well so we went to our second goal, the canter. I have to say it feels just amazing when you ask a horse like this for his first canter and he just cruises along in a canter without a worry on his mind. Well done Hamid!
 

Western Ranch

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Day 24


Hamid is a Quarab. In Australia Quarabs are registered with the Arabian Horse Society. They state: A Quarab Horse is one derived exclusively from horses of Arabian and Quarter Horse breeding or Arabian, Quarter Horse and Paint breeding where the proportion of Arabian blood shall be not less than 12.5% . The mature height shall be a minimum of 14hh. In America they have a United Quarab Registry which was developed in 1989 to promote the Quarter Horse-Arabian crossbred horse. The Quarab's body type may resemble more the stock-horse type with muscular forearm and gaskin and well-rounded hip, or the Arabian type with long, well-arched neck, long barrel, and level croup. The head usually shows refinement, large eyes, wide forehead, and slight to extreme dish in the face, depending on the ratio of Arabian to Quarter Horse blood. The Quarab is suited to many events: roping, reining, dressage, trail riding, driving, endurance, etc.
 

Western Ranch

Active Member
Day 25


To get the correct leads in a canter you must be able to control the hindquarters of the horse. That's why we are working on disengaging the hindquarters and moving the shoulders over. We use a couple of different exercises for this. Hamid was responding well to them. Other then that we worked on his back up and did some cantering. We don't canter the young horses to long. Just a lap to each side is more then enough to start with. If the leads aren't always correct that's ok for now. We will work on that later.
 

Western Ranch

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Day 26


This was an interesting day. Erwin was riding Hamid in the arena. He was constantly looking at the house. When I came out he scared and ran. When he was calm again we had a look at the house and Hamid was actually seeing Lottie, the neighbours Rottweiler. Hamid hadn't seen her before and he was scared. This instinct he got from his time in the Kimberley where he had to be careful with dingo's. What we did was take Lottie up to the arena. I walked her and Erwin followed me with Hamid on the halter. Horses are scared by things chasing them. But they get really brave when they are the ones chasing. The more I walked away with Lottie, the more Hamid wanted to follow her and sniff her out. He felt Lottie was more afraid of him then he of Lottie. If your horse is afraid of something, don't bring it up to him, but let him chase it. He soon wants to take the umbrella, catch the motor bike or follow the plastic bag. After this exercise Erwin finished his lesson with Hamid in the arena with me and Lottie watching.
 

Western Ranch

Active Member
Day 27


Hamid is settling nicely into our herd. He made it to number 3 horse, after Winchester and Colonel Spinner and before the young ones. Winchester even trusts him to watch over the herd when they are having a little rest. That means a lot! The funny thing is Hamid also knows his riding order. He is always number 3 in line. So when Erwin is riding horse number 2, Hamid goes and stands at the gate. How handy is that!
 

Western Ranch

Active Member
Day 28


Hamid is doing very well, he is up for some challenges. So I put some poles in the arena. First close together for a walk over. Always have your horse look at the poles first, then go over. The first attempt Hamid tried to avoid the poles. If a horse does that we put some cones on the corners of the poles. Hamid is used to the cones by now. They guide him over the poles. When he was comfortable with the walk over, I put the poles at a trotting distance. There are standard distances for poles at the different gaits, but also watch how your horse is taking them. Hamid needs the trotting poles a bit closer together then the standard 4 to 4,5 feet apart. We also used the poles to go trough lengthwise, stop and back up etc. At the end of the session, Hamid was flowing over the poles very nicely. He has some lift in his legs and I recon he will make a nice little jumper.
 

Western Ranch

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Day 29


Next to all the exercises we do to make the horse supple and stronger we also focus on speed control and rhythm. It's important that we get the horse to move forward. Without forward motion it's hard to do the exercises or even steer the horse around cones or in small circles. Hamid is now (like a lot of (young) horses) going through a stage where he leans into pressure even more. This is how you get trapped; when he slows down you give leg; he goes a bit faster but slows down after two strides; you give leg, he speeds up but slows down after a stride; you give leg and before you know it your working harder than the horse pushing him every step of the way to keep him going. And on top of that the horse gets frustrated when you have to cue him every step and will start to play up in one way or the other. What I do with Hamid is; I speed him up and slow him down in every gate with my seat. I will ask him to go faster with the seat and if he doesn't respond I will give him a leg cue. This way he responds more and more to the seat instead of having to push him with my legs all the time. When Hamid is forward enough I can ride him into the bridle and get him more collected. He responded well but it's an ongoing thing that doesn't happen overnight.
 

Western Ranch

Active Member
Day 30


Today I want to show you the view you have when riding Hamid. You can see that his attention is with one ear on me and with the other ear on where we're going. When I ride the young horses I look through the corner of my eyes from time to time to see what their ears are telling me. Is he totally focused on me? Or is he more interested in the other horses in the paddock? It feels good to see those ears working, switching from front to back, checking what the rider wants to do next but also paying attention to where we are going. If Hamid's attention is totally somewhere else it's my job to get it back by making a half halt or sometimes just talk to him. When you have their attention they respond better to the cues and I find that they don't spook that quickly. But don't forget we're talking about young horses here and most of them get distracted easily. So be patient with them.
 

Western Ranch

Active Member
Day 31


People often ask us if we start our horses the 'Natural Way'. Well, we are not followers of any specific 'Natural Horseman'. Monty Roberts, Pat Parelli, Richard Shrake and lots of other trainers have interesting theories and we do use some of their techniques, but we don't follow a strict method. What I can say is that we don't believe in any restrictive measures. In our view, if a horse does things out of free will, it makes for a better trained horse. We also don't teach horses to bow, lay down, stand on things, rear, free jump and so on. What we do is give a horse a good start to a productive riding career. We do get them used to poles, cones, drums, dogs and other things they might encounter in a normal riding environment. The only gear we use are a halter and lead rope, bridle with snaffle bit and a western saddle with saddle pad. No special length lead rope, carrot sticks, dually halter, hobbles, reins with slobber straps or anything else fancy. We just use good quality, safe gear that we and the horse feel comfortable with. It is not in the gear you use but the way you handle a horse.
 

Western Ranch

Active Member
Day 32


Another day another ride. Before I went to get Hamid out of his paddock I set up some challenges in the arena. Some 44 gallon drums and a carpet. The puddle of water in the corner of the arena was natures gift to him. I took him in on the lead rope and he was quite, but when I went to one of the drums and lifted the towel that was on it he got scared. He kept himself under control and didn't bolt off. I did the same as we did the other day with Lottie the neighbours dog. I walked in front of him just holding the towel. When he got closer and was calm after half a minute, I took it a step further. While walking in front of him I first wiggled the towel, then slapped it against my leg and on my back and then made circles with it above my head. In no time he didn't care anymore. Just to be sure I did a bit of bagging with the towel as I did on day 8. I did this because when I will be in the saddle afterwards I would like to pick it up and drop it of at the second drum. After that I went to the drums and banged on them and threw them over. No reaction what so ever. The carpet wasn't a problem either, he just followed me over it. And the same goes for the water, he had a quick look and decided to trust my judgment. In the saddle he was quite as. He didn't shy once. We walked and trotted over the carpet and through the water. And we picked the towel up and brought it to the other drum while he carried it on his poll. What a great day. Anybody could see that we were both very happy with the result! To celebrate we went for a bush walk on the lead rope.
 

Western Ranch

Active Member
Day 33


We repeated today what we did in the saddle yesterday. After that we did some more trotting and getting Hamid more collected. Asking him to drop his head and ride him more into the bit. This way he will also accept the bit when somebody else gets in the saddle and holds on to the reins a bit tighter. When starting the young horses we always work on a very loose rein to start with. This gives them time to get used to the bit without to much interfering. It also gives them all the opportunity to go forward. One of the other things we learn our young horses is a one rein stop. If needed we can pull the horse up and stop him, you can compare it with an emergency break. It's good to train the young horse early so they know that it's nothing to be afraid of. We start with it in the walk, and after a while when he's confident we do it in the trot and canter. The exercise is also good to supple the horse up and make him free in the shoulder.
 
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Western Ranch

Active Member
Day 34


Hamid is enjoying a day in the sunshine. He almost had 5 weeks of training now. With the horses we get in for starting we spend the last 2 weeks confirming all the lessons they learned and preparing them for the chosen discipline of the owner. So if the horse is going to do dressage we work on more collection and impulse. If the horse is going to be a western horse, we focus more for example on neck reining and lower head carriage. Starting a horse means the horse will be taught a good basic foundation. After they leave our place they are still green horses, but they are safe to ride and ready for further education.
 
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