Specialist topic - starting a young horse

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Western Ranch

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Day 9

Freckles has a day off. She did well during her first two rides. When a horse is doing well it is sometimes hard to stop. You always want more. But especially with starting a horse, it is important to give them time to think things over. They might be physically up for the job, but they have to be ready for it mentally as well.
 

Western Ranch

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Day 10

The start of every new day is a repetition of the previous day. We just check if what we did before is still working. If not we work on it again. If all is the same as the day before we take it one step further. So today we walked around with Freckles on the lead rope again, Erwin making himself known to her. Then he started taking over more cues from me on the ground. Freckles was responding well, so we took her to the next level; lunging. I still have her on the lunge, but Erwin does all the steering and stopping in a walk. When she did that well, I asked for a trot. Especially with more lazy horses we prefer to make them go forward by the person on the ground. This way Erwin doesn't have to keep nagging her with his legs. We also use voice commands; clicking for a trot, kissing for a canter. Freckles seems to have a nice forward trot.
 

Western Ranch

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Day 11

After a quick lunge, Erwin and Freckles were off by themselves. What we want to accomplish in the round yard is a comfortable walk and trot, some steering, stopping and that the horse gives to the pressure of the rein. We use the outside of the round yard to help them with steering and stopping if need be. With the steering we lightly pick up the rein in the direction we want to go and use the leg on the other side to make her go there. If she responds that is great, if she doesn't she will get to the edge of the round yard and we use the wall to make her go in the direction we want. They pick it up pretty quickly on light rein and leg pressure. We do the same for a stop. Erwin will sit in the stop position and well say whoo. If the horse doesn't stop we take her head slowly to the outside against the wall and ask her to turn. This way her hindquarters have to stop and eventually she doesn't want to do the turn any more but is happy to just stop. Freckles doesn't need this, she likes to stop.
 

Western Ranch

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Day 12

Although it was a day off for Freckles today, she still had a big challenge. Her first trim. Our farrier is very quiet around the horses. He is really good with nervous and young horses. So after Freckles checked him and his gear out she let him pick up her hooves. Once she pulled back, but for the rest she behaved like a pro. I swear she looks like she can walk on air now!
 

Western Ranch

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Day 13

Because Freckles is such a big horse and she is doing all the exercises we want her to do in the round yard, we will take her into the arena today. Some horses need more time in the round yard, especially the more forward once or the horses with problems like bucking or rearing.
The first day in the arena is just getting the feel of the big open space. We concentrate mainly on steering. We like to use cones for this. Just making big circles and getting the general direction right. The first day is just a walk. Most horses don't steer well enough to go into a trot yet.
 

Western Ranch

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Day 14

This is the second day in the arena. We will mainly work on teaching Freckles the correct cues for steering. Very basic principle, open the door with your inside rein, push her trough with your outside leg. Freckles needs to supple up, so we will do lots of turns left and right. She also had a little trot today. Surprisingly she is very forward and it looks like we will have no trouble getting her into a canter later on. At this stage she still feels like a boat, straight in her body and drifting out. This will get better and better because of all the flexing and steering we do in the walk. Remember if something is not right in the walk, it will be bad in the trot and even worse in the canter. That's why we do a lot of walking in the beginning.
 

Western Ranch

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Day 15

Freckles has to learn how to stand still while mounting. In the round yard she did okay, but now with all the big open space it is a lot harder to wait. Erwin lets her make the mistake and then he backs her up. She gets another chance to wait for the right cue. It only took 2 times before she knew what to do. The exercise is also good to work on her back up. Erwin will sit in the stop position and will take contact on the reins. Then he waits until Freckles does the right thing and steps back. This way she can release the pressure of the rein. So no pulling but waiting for the right response. When she knows what we mean then we can step it up and ask more steps back. We also had a lovely trot today.
 

Western Ranch

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Day 17

The last 2 days of riding we concentrated on steering and trotting. Freckles is picking up all the lessons really well. Today she was nice and forward so Erwin wanted to challenge her a bit. He asked for a canter. In the beginning she didn't pick up on the cues and just wanted to trot really quick, but then she broke into a canter. You can hear her coming from a mile away! After a circle she was pretty tired. So we gave her a bit of a breather and then we asked her on the other side. She picked up on it a lot quicker. Seems like the right canter is easier for her then the left one. You see this often in older horses that they prefer on canter lead over the other. We do not mind to much about this at this stage. She needs to get the feel of the canter first and has to recognize the cues, then we're going to work more on the correct leads. The good thing about Freckles is that she is already nice and balanced in her canter. Lots of young horses drop their shoulders and want to make a smaller circle. They need to be taught to balance properly and keep their shoulders upright.
 

Western Ranch

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Day 18

After all the hard canter work yesterday we decided to have an easy day today. We wanted to take Freckles for a nice bush ride. When we saddle the horses in the round yard we always go through the same routine; they have to stand still in the middle (ground tie), they get a brush, their hooves are cleaned and then we saddle them. Freckles decided she wasn't going to pick up her feet today. So she had to have a bit of a reminder lesson about picking up feet properly. You can have the best plan, but if your horse doesn't cooperate or we are not happy with one of the steps, that's what we will work on. After Freckles picked up her feet properly we did go on a small bush ride. She did a good job. Nice and calm. When we got back, we did the same routine and now she was very well behaved with giving her hooves. Well done Freckles.
 

Western Ranch

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Day 19

"The Clydesdale is a breed of draft horse derived from the farm horses of Clydesdale, Scotland, and named after that region. Thought to be over 300 years old, the breed was extensively used for pulling heavy loads in rural, industrial and urban settings. At one time there were at least 140,000 Clydesdales known in Scotland; by 1949 just 80 animals were licensed in England. Clydesdales have since seen resurgence in popularity and population. Clydesdales are noted for grace and versatility; they stand on average between 16 - 17 hands (the current world-record holding Clydesdale is 20 hands) in height and can weigh upwards of one short ton (2,000 pounds)." (Wikipedia)
 

Western Ranch

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Day 20

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. Erwin also rides Freckles with one hand so she can get used to neck reining as well. Today we put a stock saddle on her to see how she likes that. Normally it is no problem riding with a different saddle (as long as it fits!).
After a day of rest it is also good to check what Freckles still remembers and what she doesn't. 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

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Day 21

Freckles is a fairly easy horse to start. During the whole process she did all we asked of her. Today we worked on her shoulders and her hindquarters. To get a nicely balanced and flexible horse, you need to have control over the 5 parts (head, neck, shoulders, barrel and hindquarters) of your horse. If you are able to move all of these parts individually you can perform any maneuver.
To move her shoulders over and disengage her hindquarters, Freckles needs to move away from the pressure of the legs. We practiced this a lot with all the simple steering exercises and after a couple of tries she got it right. Great to see such a big horse being so light on the cues.
 

CatabyWarmbloods

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Even when we are not riding we are studying. Hamid is interested in Richard Shrake's Resistance Free Training. It is always good to keep an open mind and explore different techniques. You can learn something new from every trainer, instructor or author. Pick up what feels right to you. This way you accumulate a nice horsemanship toolbox that you can use whenever needed. But most of all, listen to your horse, he's you biggest teacher.
Great thread and interesting to read what other's do and the techniques they use - I just wanted to hijack the thead and say this post was gorgeous! Make me giggle and smile :)*
 

Western Ranch

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Hi CatabyWarmbloods,

Thanks for your lovely comment. We like to share what we do with others. It makes it even more worthwhile.
As for Freckles, sorry I didn't write past Day 21. We got very busy around that time. Freckles is doing great and her owner is really enjoying her. We even got an email from her farrier thanking us for teaching Freckles to hold her feet up!



If you want to learn more, everybody is welcome to come and have a look at the Ranch.
 

Western Ranch

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In training now

If anybody is interested; I try to keep track of one horse we have in training all the time. It will be a weekly update. At the moment we have William a 2 yr old Clydesdale. He will be going home Sunday. Then I will start a new horse again. Enjoy.
 
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