I'm a h/j rider, and I've just started working with a woman and her young TB/Welsh cross pony. I'm excited to get this young gelding started off in the right direction. He's 2, and recently broke. I see the best way to begin any young horse's training is with some basic dressage fundamentals and lots of ground work.
I've been looking into some books and these are the 2 that I'm having a hard time deciding between. Has anyone read these? Would you pick one over the other, and why?
Go for KA Von Ziegner's book. I have both books and have read both and Von Ziegner's book is much better and more correct, plus he has actually trained many top performing horses and I can't really say the same for Mike Schaffer.
At two yrs old, this young tb/welsh should be minimally lunged, you could be doing some ground driving and pony-ing off another horse. Working on trailering, manners,... but NOT riding him. Let him physically and mentally mature.
I would wait until he is 3.5 yrs old or closer to 4 yrs old, before getting on him.
Rush him now(physically & mentally) and pay later because you got in big stinking hurry!!!!
I started riding my cobs at 3.5. 3-4 days a week. They were pony-ed and ground driven from about 2.75 yrs old to 3.5 yrs old.
Find out what month and year this young horse was born.
If you had to be on this horse, minimally 2.75 but I would prefer closer to 3.5.
You could relate to her that many racehorses are retired and sometimes euthanized before they are 3, maybe 4 yrs old because of being started so young.
Just because you weigh 95 lbs, it is still weight on a young horses undeveloped muscular-skelelton structure combined with repetitious work.
For future clientele, you need to set boundaries of what age you are willing to start riding a young horse, how much you do with them before you get on them(this is for your safety). Be flexible because each horse is an individual but keep sanity and safety in mind.
If you want your horse/pony to stay sound for it's entire life, which could or should be around 30 years or more, then 3.5 to 4 tears old is the right age to start them. And then mostly at the walk (at least 50% - 60% of the time) and the rest at the trot except for some basic canter work off and on.
Starting off with 15 to 30 minutes and increasing the time to an hour in 15 minute/per week increments.
That is for the first three to six months.
Then you can begin to escalate more trot work and canter work.
The walk is the most important gait for building a conditioning foundation for strong ligaments and tendons. It is the slow distance endurance building gait. Without that foundation, your pony will risk injury later on in training when the gaits become faster (more concussion) and over a longer time period.
I have two purebred pony two year olds--they are busy growing and outside of basic handling and routine care they will continue to live out in the paddock till late this summer when I will start to play a little with them in the round ring. This years goals are simple and involve mainly in-hand type work, jogging in hand, maybe trail walking and possibly one in hand outing---some might call an "acclimitzation phase."
That being said---a lot of pony breeders do start their youngsters under saddle earlier than would seem sensible with respect to growth ect. I think mainly its an attempt to make them more marketable-saleable. You might discuss with the owner your concerns and offer to work the pony from the ground in hand, confirming voice commands, basic training ect and limit your time actually riding the pony to very short but focused--sit-walk-trot sessions. Literally hundreds (if not thousands) of horses/ponies are started at two and survive--it doesn't make it right but it happens--and they are not all doomed to shortened careers and permanent lameness. Short controlled sessions under an experienced, balanced rider are likely less damaging for them than endless lunging/round pen work or even one uncontrolled/missmanaged free jumping session.
Also, it does depend on the pony. While i would never ride a 2 yo, I did start sitting on my Connemara at 3 - one day a week while he was being lunged, then i rode him one day a week... This went on til January of this year (almost 4) when he went into full training - He got a bit stressed, so i backed him off for a month and then re-ramped the work up again (it was his teeth) now he is happy working 3 or 4 days a week for 30 minutes +/-
This seems like a sensible plan.
There is also loads of documentation you can show her. But really it is all about what year/month he was born...
Whoa, I did not realize the spine growth plates were the last and longest to close.
I base my basic guidelines on the U.S. Cavalry approach, which is considered "conservative" by today's "standards", if you can call them that.
And I actually do about 75% - 80% walking up through 6, or later depending on the horse. I don't waste my time telling people that because I get tired of being called "overly cautious" and afraid to "really train" my horse.