I have a Barockpinto (paint/Friesian) 18 month old colt. Would it be better for his bones(less stress on them) to ride or drive first & what would a minimum age be? Thinking very basic light 2 wheeler if driving.
From the saddleseat side, we usually break a horse to drive before riding, often as a 2 year old and then jog them.
My Amish BO/trainer, who grows gigantic colts, will often "break" them as yearlings - put the harness on them, let them pull a little, then turn them back out for another year. Around 2, he starts driving them more regularly generally a couple times a week. Depending on the colt, my ASB trainer does the same thing. This year he was lamenting NOT having done that with one of colts, a big draft/ASB cross. Life would have been much easier if the colt had been started when he was a lot smaller.
Between the 2 of them, these guys have been starting colts for over 100 years.
Way back when, I had a filly that I wanted to both ride and drive. I think she was about 18 months when I first put any kind of tack on her; started first w/ a saddle as it seemed that more stationary tack would be better. Then went to parts of the driving harness, got her used to how they flap against her. I ground drove her around the pastures and in a big field. Mostly at a walk. Backed her at two and change, reinforced the whoa command that she understood pretty well from the ground, then shortly after, hooked her to a light drag and then a small cart.
So I sort of did both together. It kept me from doing too much of any one thing!! I did NOT do a lot of lunging.
We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........
How big he is does not matter, it is when they mature that is important.
Please read this well-known & often cited paper by Dr Deb Bennet (usually referred to as "the Ranger paper": http://www.equinestudies.org/ranger_..._2008_pdf1.pdf
I have a Friesian cross myself. No one was on her back until she was just about 4. These horses, especially, need to be started slowly for both their physical & mental health.
With the Morgans & Saddlebreds we always broke to drive when they were just over 2. It is great for horse to be dual duty, fantastic from a training perspective, too. He will be already familiar with bridle, rein aids, voice aids.
Is there a reason this horse is not being gelded? Sooner is always better than later. Unless he is exceptional & you plan on getting him approved, geld. Yesterday.
Last edited by Hippolyta; Aug. 6, 2012 at 01:14 PM.
I am with Drive NJ on working with a young horse to get him used to following directions.
At our house we do halter practice, so he is used to squaring up, standing still while a person works or stands around him. He walks RIGHT beside you, not dancing, no pulling or moving into you. He trots along beside you, on a slack lead, halts, backs up as far as you ask him. Horse can pivot right or left off the hindquarters, by his handler on the ground asking. We practice this a LOT to get him smooth at it.
As a long yearling, 2-3yr old, he may get hauled to the local show, to go thru a halter class with STRANGERS!! He is STILL expected to behave, though sometimes horse can barely pay attention. I actually think he learns more standing in the Warm-up area sightseeing! Well worth the cost of entry, for all the bonus features of going out to a show.
Bonus would be getting clipped and bathed, riding in the trailer with hay to eat. Standing tied to the trailer under supervision, still eating and drinking. Getting led among other animals, being careful not to let him get too close to others. Standing around waiting for our class. Just BEING OBEDIENT in these situations. Not perfect, but trying to obey, 95% listeing to you amid the distractions. He is a baby but he has to learn to do as asked. Him doing the jog-out routine for the Judge, even if it is not "as good as he is at home", at least he did it. And usually you can end things early, take him back home to relax in familiar places. So things are short and sweet, give him good experiences for his future life jobs. He really will do a lot of thinking when at home, should be better acting for your next outing.
I do suggest using a 12ft lead, gives that extra margin of safety so you don't lose him if something makes him jump away. Might also be called a "stallion lead" with a knot or rubber stopper at the end to grip as leather slides thru your hand!
I don't think a horse wearing harness or a saddle as a 2yr old, blankets or sheets as a yearling, is harmful. You just want horse experiencing the "feeling" of stuff all over him and accepting that. He can wear tack while doing that Halter Practice or while being tied up. It isn't work yet. And if horse is destined to be a usable stallion, you just have to do LOTS with them to keep them accepting of authority. Hope you have a big, tough gelding to put him in with to keep his enthusiasm a bit squelched!! He needs a big playmate that can take the physical play a healthy young horse will engage in. He has to learn how to be a social animal in a herd for mental health, read body language for his safety. SEVERAL older, bigger, hard minded geldings in a group, has been ideal for our young stallion colts to grow and learn manners from. "No, you have to be LAST to eat, Last to go in the barn. Move away or I WILL bite you HARD. WE are of higher status than you, cute doesn't count" is what they tell them. Our young horses were mannerly, not nippy, pushy, easily accepted being the lowest status, so they did what we told them to! Sure makes things easier in training them!
I would also make your young horse think his "reason for living" is to WORK. Starts with short training sessions, doing the various steps of learning. He needs some kind of job that makes him tired, but not a picky thing. Western horses ride fences, walk behind cattle to move herds, which is a pretty easy way to build a horse. Young animals get fit gradually, things are done slowly, he can figure a reason to do it "that" way. Drilling on stuff in arenas is pretty boring, especially to a young animal full of energy. The BEST minded stallions I have met learned how to WORK, got tired working. Worked DAILY for quite a long time, before they ever were allowed to think of breeding.
I came up with some pretty hard-core horsemen, and they didn't accept a stallion as "good or GREAT" by only his looks. He also had to have a good mind, be usable in working conditions, before being bred. And THEN those foals had to have the same good minds, bodies, before he was allowed to be a herd stallion. They cut a LOT of very well bred horses, so there were only a few left to be breeding stallions by the time horse was 6yrs old. They had come thru the "testing process" successfully. Nothing was used for breeding before 5yrs old, AFTER being trained and used. They said horse had to have a MIND to train, before you could develop it. Young horse colts don't have a real mind until about 4yrs, so you SURE don't want to breed them!! Breeding a mare was a BONUS, earned privilege and NOT HIS REASON for being on the ranch or farm.
Using those stallions in work, made them much better minded to live with, not stupid, hormone activated crazies. They were thinkers, cooperative with good handling. Colt learning might get a little special treatment, tied by himself instead of in the middle of the group for lunch break, but not much else. He accepted that work was his lot in life as he grew and learned, was very cooperative with his people.
You don't want a colt thinking he is "that special" by avoiding training until he is big and strong. He learns to cooperate by working with him from a young age. Lessons should be kept short, his bones are soft, very short attention span to learn in. I don't think gentle riding, straight lines, walking mostly is harmful to the horse. Not many circles, which are harder on joints of a younger animal. Again, ride the fence lines to check things. Up and down any lanes you have. Maybe work over some poles in the ring, to keep him paying attention. I don't know that I would be driving him with a vehicle then, he doesn't have enough experience yet to suit me. Easier to ride a spook in the saddle, than from a cart seat in the lane.
I live in Israel, so there are no shows he'd be eligible for. If I can drive him, I have no reason to ride him for years. I'd just like to be out with him. Puffing behind a trotting horse for miles isn't my idea of relaxation :-(
Thanks for all the great advice. I thoroughly agree with most of it.
He's exceptional for this country & although I'll be keeping him entire, he probably wont be at stud. It's very common culturally here for males to be kept entire (think 50%) though they aren't usually just randomly bred.