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  1. #1
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    Default Start a young horse with a Dressage or Jumper trainer?

    Or does it even matter as long as the trainer is good at starting young horses?



  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by stoicfish View Post
    Or does it even matter as long as the trainer is good at starting young horses?
    Yes to the bolded part



  3. #3
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    Mar. 1, 2011
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    I agree with the "As long as the trainer is good at starting young horses"- But I would add make sure the trainer knows what you want to do with your horse!

    But in the very beginning it's just basics- stop, go, turn, etc- and thats needed in all disciplines!

    My horse was started as a dressage only horse and I changed his career at age 8 to eventing- his Dressage is AMAZING but our jumping is still in the works! But I think this could easily be flipped the other way to- taking a jumping horse you would have holes in the Dressage part. But aren't we always working on improving something with our horses?? hehehe
    proud owner of a very pretty but completely useless horse (and one useful horse!)

    Horse Thoughts



  4. #4
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    all things being equal, i would choose a dressage trainer who likes to use the occasional pole on the ground and hacking out.
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  5. #5
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    I have had four years to contemplate this question. Granted, my youngster is a mule, but he has the talent and movement to participate in sport(horse) events to the extent we can.

    That being said, he will be started by a man who specializes in starting youngsters. This person is talented enough where he will be able to take my boy for 60-90 days and then he can go on to a sport horse trainer. I would like him to spend a little bit of time with my dressage trainer, and then the ultimate goal is to send him to Phoenix Farms where he will not only continue his dressage training, but spend time jumping as well.

    As others have said, I agree with the part that says "as long as the trainer is good at starting young horses". The person you choose to start your horse doesn't need to be the person you stay with unless perhaps you are in an area where your trainer choices are limited. Fortunately for me, I live in an area with an abundance of talented trainers.
    Proud owner of a Slaughter-Bound TB from a feedlot, and her surprise baby...!
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  6. #6
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    Young horses can't do 'dressage' and they won't be really jumping for a while.

    I'm another one who looks for a good trainer of young horses. I want my horses to start off thinking that work = fun.

    My three homebred mares went to a cowgirl who starts horses for all disciplines but gets them going on sorting cattle and riding out. My mares loved it.

    After that, my mares have done a mix of English things -- trails, hunting, easy flatwork basics (on the aids rather than on the bit), jumping logs and small stuff.

    The important thing is they develop a good attitude, self-confidence and a desire to go forward while they're still young and growing. Serious work -- actual dressage, jumping -- doesn't start till age 6.

    jenm, does your horse-starter guy have experience with mules?



  7. #7
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    I agree with most of the suggestions.
    I do not think of dressage as advanced movements but in the strict sense it is a training method, or as Michel Shaffer says- a method of teaching horses the most efficient way to carry a rider. Klimke’s stages of training start as soon as you back them. That is why I would consider a good dressage trainer to be a benefit. Not so much that the training has to be different but that the trainer, herself, may have a better understanding of how to help the horse to learn balance and to move relaxed, all other things equal. The question is more about the understanding the disciplines bring to the equation.



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by JER View Post
    jenm, does your horse-starter guy have experience with mules?
    Yes, he specializes in mules and problem horses. My mule spent 3 months with him as a two year old just learning basic manners and good groundwork stuff. What I LOVE about this trainer is he has assured me that once my boy is started, any trainer will be able to work with him, which is key because some/many trainers are not comfortable working with mules. It was also his idea to wait for my boy to mature a bit more in his forth year before starting him.

    I live in the land of expensive h/j, and dressage horses, so I'm thrilled to find trainers around here who are open to working with a mule.

    P.S. I love what your wrote about work = fun. I have already been free jumping my mule over logs, etc and he is having a blast. It's important to me to also work with trainers who make learning a positive experience.
    Proud owner of a Slaughter-Bound TB from a feedlot, and her surprise baby...!
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  9. #9
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    One of the most important things to me with a young horse is that whoever is starting it takes it out to see the world. I think that is critical for both its life experience and for its bravery installation, especially when you are talking about a young horse that you hope to aim toward eventing. So, whoever you choose, be sure that the babies get hacked out and see the outside world plenty, and don't just get cloistered in a dark indoor the entire time they are there.



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by yellowbritches View Post
    One of the most important things to me with a young horse is that whoever is starting it takes it out to see the world. I think that is critical for both its life experience and for its bravery installation, especially when you are talking about a young horse that you hope to aim toward eventing. So, whoever you choose, be sure that the babies get hacked out and see the outside world plenty, and don't just get cloistered in a dark indoor the entire time they are there.

    Emphasis mine. As a dressage rider, I am about to diss dressage trainers. If I get another young horse, it will be started by someone who DOES hack them out and get them out and about. Otherwise, you end up with a big red chicken like I have!



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by JER View Post
    Young horses can't do 'dressage'
    I almost snorted my oatmeal over this

    In the classical school they are started at 4, on the lines, and learn how to balance themselves correctly in all three gaits and begin lateral work before they are even sat on.

    I think the struggle the OP would run into trying to find a dressage trainer to start the horse is there aren't many dressage trainers that have been taught that first year of development correctly. It's rare to see a trainer start a new movement on the lines.
    Jumper trainers can certainly teach a horse to be light and rock back, but I've also found that jumper trainers are more inclined to push the horse in training based on what they are physically capable of, not what they are mentally, and those two don't always match.

    Ideally you want someone who is experienced in starting young horses who knows how to introduce new things from the ground, and how to translate it to mounted work, who clearly understands your goals, and has a track record of producing the same kind of horse you want.
    I know many say to send them to a cowboy, but for me that seems like the worst thing to do.
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
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  12. #12
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    Well, I am going to skip right over the first 90 days part. Send them to a good hunter/jumper program. A young event horse needs learn to be confident over fences and develop the best form it possibly can before they good out into the world of "just get it done". You can put all the dressage you want on them later. The youngsters should canter in a rhythm, learn to find the own distance and basically find jumping a course just and average part of their life. A good h/j will do good flat work with your baby on the days he does not jump. Most dressage trainers won't be popping him over a few fences a few time a week. You can also go do the flat you won't during the week. At this point (I am thinking coming 4) you are just teaching them to go into the bridle and move off your leg.

    My last two babies did 6 months at a hunter barn, jumped twice a week and I did the flat work on the other days. They went in the baby green/pregreen divisions at several hunter shows. Then we backed off the jumping and focused on the flat work. 12 months later they were getting 70's at First 1 and jumping around 2'9" hunter courses with lead changes and getting nice ribbons. One was sold as a hunter and went on to do Devon. The other is on track for a very nice career as an eventer and all around horse that I can take in any discipline at any time.



  13. #13
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    I too agree with a good starter of young horses no matter the discipline. However if I had to do it again with my mare, after she left the gal who started her I would have put her immediately into dressage training. The mare can jump and always has been a very willing athletic jumper. Its been hell trying to go back now and get her dressage where it needs to be. Eventing is all about dressage now so definitely dressage first.



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by GiGi View Post
    Eventing is all about dressage now so definitely dressage first.
    Wow! That is a pretty interesting statement.



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
    I almost snorted my oatmeal over this

    In the classical school they are started at 4, on the lines, and learn how to balance themselves correctly in all three gaits and begin lateral work before they are even sat on.
    This isn't what I'd want for my 4 year-old future eventer.

    My horses do some round-penning, basic longeing and long-lining but it's mostly about moving forward and learning commands. They can find their own balance, which IME, often is changing from week to week. I don't care where their heads are, only that they're moving forward from behind.

    Many, if not most, 4 year-olds are not physically mature enough to carry themselves in a dressage frame. I can't tell you how often I've seen dressage trainers riding young horses with their head and neck on the vertical or behind it, and the horse's hocks trailing further and further out behind. That is no way to train a horse.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gry2Yng View Post
    A young event horse needs learn to be confident over fences and develop the best form it possibly can before they good out into the world of "just get it done". You can put all the dressage you want on them later. The youngsters should canter in a rhythm, learn to find the own distance and basically find jumping a course just and average part of their life.
    Agree completely.

    Quote Originally Posted by GiGi View Post
    Eventing is all about dressage now so definitely dressage first.
    Perhaps if you don't plan to compete above Novice. Otherwise, I disagree completely.



  16. #16
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    I agree with Gry for the most part here. The caveat is that a good young horse person is a good young horse person, regardless of whether they have a USDF or a USHJA bumper sticker. I want someone who starts youngsters to be thinking about things like forward, rhythm, and balance in their gaits, who will take them off the property and explain things like going forward even when there are scary things nearby. I like seeing youngsters learning about keeping a rhythm, hopping over small jumps, and, frankly, it's a lot easier when they have a balanced lead change early in the game (which in general, the H/J crowd can put on well). I think they need to be jumping regularly, even if it's small fences, pretty early on so they understand that it is No Big Deal, and that they are expected to continue their forward, balanced, rhythm despite the presence of a brush box or some poles.

    None of that means that a dressage rider can't or wont do that - though some are less likely to have youngster popping over small fences early on. Moreover, I don't want an H/J rider who thinks flatwork means draw reins and life in a bitting rig. But a good, competent rider who understands that flatwork means coming from behind and gets that youngsters need simple directions and situations where they will succeed and build confidence can come from either discipline, though for a horse whose career will end up including a lot of jumping, I prefer to make sure they have positive jumping exposure early on.



  17. #17
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    Agree Spot. I go the h/j route because I can tend to rush a horse off the ground. So I prefer to sit a REALLY quiet rider with thousands of hunter rounds on them for the early jump work. No one else does the flat work but me. Thus, I am able to achieve the best of both worlds. 15-20 jumps twice a week. No opportunity to stop, duck out, rush, etc. They learn their changes, the jumps stay small. I teach them how to do a training level dressage test, hack them out, take them over ditches and banks and water, etc.

    By the time they have had six months of this, they can usually deal with me for the one or two fences that I push them at because the understand that is *wrong* and jumping doesn't feel good that way. Instead of being trained up to get excited, run past their distance, vary their rhythm, etc. One or two bad fences out of 15 twice a week, can prevent the excellent physical and mental base from becoming a part of who the horse is, IMHO. (And that's how I feel about 1-2 bad fences - we have all seen the disasters of horses that only get 1-2 good ones, or perhaps better, no early jumping experience at all.)



  18. #18
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    Default Ironically

    Ironically, this dressage rider (me) sent her young horses to an eventer to start. I wanted forward, happy horses provided by a rider who understood what I wanted to do with them down the road.
    Last edited by Holly Jeanne; May. 24, 2011 at 02:49 PM.
    Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Goethe



  19. #19
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    I just start mine myself....these are the fun times in my book

    But I typically work with an event trainer to the extent that I work with anyone. At this early stage...we are typically hacking out a ton, working on basic turning...going to schooling shows to hang out in the warm up madness...popping over little logs etc.

    If I didn't have time...I'd probably lean more to an event rider who is very good with young horses.
    ** The difference between genius and stupidity is genius has its limits. -- Albert Einstein **



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by bornfreenowexpensive View Post
    I just start mine myself....these are the fun times in my book
    yes, I like that the bar is set so very low -- if you can get them to walk in a straight line it's a successful day. if you are still saying that when they're 10, then you have a problem.



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