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Spinoff from difficult horses: starting a horse late

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  • Spinoff from difficult horses: starting a horse late

    Has anyone experienced that horses can be more difficult under saddle when started later?

  • #2
    Yes but I also felt like once I was established as the leader they actually had less spook and less antics that are more young horse and new world related

    Note i said ONCE i was established as the rider... That may or may not have taken a rather colorful few days, weeks, months.
    Last edited by NOMIOMI1; May. 3, 2012, 10:24 PM.
    ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


    • #3


      • Original Poster

        Originally posted by BaroquePony View Post
        Hmm, I will take this as a YES?


        • #5
          yes, I started a 4 year old last summer, and from there he went to a cowboy and then an event trainer and a year later, he is still not very willing to go with the program.


          • #6
            The *problem* with starting an older horse is that they are big .

            Now, that being said, establishing who's boss is the issue.

            I love 1" cotton ropes for working with older horses.

            And there is a difference between an older horse that hasn't learned bad habits and an older horse that has.

            If they are well mannered in what little they do know, then you have a much easier time of things.


            • #7
              Posted by rthonor:

              yes, I started a 4 year old last summer, and from there he went to a cowboy and then an event trainer and a year later, he is still not very willing to go with the program.
              I don't consider 4 to be older necessarily, but if they have had no ground manner training, then all of a sudden they are sent to a "cowboy", then on to eventing, I see maybe where there could be an upset horse.


              • #8
                I did all the ground training...and realized I he was too much for me. He spend the next 4 months with a cowboy being riden in the woods. Then the next 4 months after that with an event trainer. I wouldnt say he was "old" but he definately liked his life of hanging in a pasture better


                • #9
                  I feel its actually easier. Started a 9 yo been out to pasture because two "professional" trainers could not get him going under saddle. Had him riding walk/trot in a week, imagine that Super great boy and is now packing my dad around. Got my mare as a 6 yo and restarted her. She had many jobs before but was so scared she was not even considered broke to sit on. She took a year to be show ring ready from the ground up! I would never start a horse younger than 5, they don't have their minds before then. Ground work ect sure but no reason to really push. However, I am not in need to flip horses or make money off of them.


                  • #10
                    I am working with an OTTB right now (client's horse) who raced and then was turned out to pasture for a couple of years. He is quick and bright and willing to learn. But he also thinks that he knows how to do his job and we just don't get it. It is only starting to sink in that everything is different now. I think this is easier than a horse that has been allowed to grow up as a pasture pet, at least a racehorse has had a job and understands working.
                    Nina's Story
                    Epona Comm on FB


                    • #11
                      I've been re-starting mine since he was 8. He suffered a back injury at 5 that took 3 years to resolve, and since then his work has been on/off. We're finally on a roll right now, getting much more consistent and he's doing really well, but its been a long 6 years since that injury.

                      What I've found is because mine has been in his comfort zone all these years, he gets unreasonably excited when taken off the property. Took him to a show last month just to hang out and it took almost an hour before he stopped kicking his stall door. I still consider it a win, because he eventually DID calm down, just never enough to be safe for riding.

                      With the older horses, you have to find a way to over-ride their own opinions regarding what they think they should be doing, LOL. With youngsters you take things slowly so you don't overwhelm their brains, but with the older horse, you take it slow so that you don't overwhelm their bodies. Or piss them off. But once you've established a system with them, they're usually really quick to 'get with the program', and the learning goes faster.
                      Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
                      Witherun Farm


                      • #12
                        Depends on the horse.

                        I started Spy as a 10 yo. He was the most agreaeble, anxious to please,
                        horse I have worked with, and he loved the attention.

                        The only thing that took a LITTLE longer was learning to trust the rider about going near/though/over scary things.

                        chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


                        • #13
                          My mare was eight. I thought it was very easy. You don't have the baby issues of insecurity. She's a very dominate and secure horse, though, so maybe that makes a difference.


                          • #14
                            I have started 2 five year old dressage horses... both were not straight forward as someone else had tried and failed to start them properly. They both took longer to "back" but then once they finally accepted the rider (and the indignity of their fate: a daily job!) they progressed quicker than a typical younger green horse. Being more physically and mentally mature helped them make the leap from straight, forward w,t,c to more carrying ability, lateral movement and counter canter quickly. Also need to mention that these horses when sold Pre-Purchase Exam'ed super - crisp, clean joints.

                            I have started 2 older TB's from off the track and they were pretty darn normal having already seen and done so much. I liked them. Someone had been very kind to both.

                            I have re-started 1 that was off from lameness (started and ridden by a great pro, went lame, 1.5 years off) and he was awful to deal but has gone on to be a very successful.

                            I am currently backing a 3 year old and must say he is easier and more straight forward than everyone I listed above!


                            • #15
                              BTDT Not a fan.

                              Have been helping my friend with a 5yo Friesian. This is the oldest horse I have started personally. And... I will not do it again.
                              I think that starting a horse younger is a benefit- this mare had 5 years of hanging out and living the dream and went through a major phase of "this is NOT how my life is supposed to be" and really was rotten. She was FAR pushier and harder to get a response from than the 2 and 3 year olds I started who also lived out in a herd. Starting them young is the only way to go, IMO. At least when they are younger, they don't have quite the amount of braun to put into their "Oh heck no!"s I'm not a fan of starting them young. I definitely don't think they should see a showring outside of in hand classes until they are 4 or 5. But at least start them on their way and get them to the point that they accept that their life involves having a job on occasion.


                              • #16
                                I rode a mare that was started at 8, that had been used as a broodmare before that. I didn't start her myself, but started riding after just c aouple of months training. First I heard, "It's harder to start them late." Then I heard "You're so lucky that she's already mature and sensible and learns more quickly" I think early handling may be essential but not necessarily early training.


                                • #17
                                  Pposted by Discobold:

                                  I think early handling may be essential but not necessarily early training.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by blairasb View Post
                                    BTDT Not a fan.

                                    Have been helping my friend with a 5yo Friesian. This is the oldest horse I have started personally. And... I will not do it again.
                                    I think the problem there is Friesian, not 5 years old.

                                    I don't consider 4 or 5 late, other than if they haven't been handled as someone before me said.

                                    I have a friend who has started quite a few horses. She got great deals for two very talented mares who for various reasons (economy and health) had not been started. One was 7 and one 8, I believe. She expected them to be more difficult, but since she had started so many other horses she figured she was up to the challenge. Easiest horses she ever started.

                                    I think it really does depend on the horse! However, my friend's horses are much more concerned about going places than I would expect a young horse with their temperaments - I think socializing a young horse is a huge plus even if you start it a bit later.
                                    If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


                                    • #19
                                      For those who have had bad experiences starting a horse late, I also wonder if it depends on the reason why the horse wasn't started sooner. I don't see a problem with starting late. IMO, if a horse has the potential to get to X, it will get there with proper trainer whether it was started at 3 or 5 or 8. Sometimes, though, I'm a tad suspicious of people who claim the horse wasn't started because owner was too busy or had health issues, etc. There may be another reason why the horse wasn't started sooner (e.g., owner afraid, horse had issues) and THAT - not the fact that it was started late - might be the problem. Pure speculation on my part.


                                      • #20
                                        My current horse will be 10 this year, and was started when I bought her about a year and a half ago.

                                        It has been difficult to say the least. And I have started many horses. The problem is that she acts like a baby in so many ways, but the things about a baby that make them nice to train-they learn quickly and retain well-are just not present with her. She's very athletic and talented, but she just doesn't understand things as quickly as most babies. But she's just as hot, spooky, and athletic as any 3 year old I've ever seen!

                                        To me the difficulty has not been with her size or strength or anything like that-if you're training them correctly, these things shouldn't have any importance-it's about learning a skill while their brains are still growing. It's like learning a language or gymnastics (dressage is really a combination of the two!) when you are young versus when you are older. My father teaches people who are working toward getting their GED's, and believe me, it's easier to just get it done when you are younger! You have to teach your brain how to learn, and it is the same with horses.

                                        That's not to say that I think all horses should be backed as two year olds and ridden into the ground. I just think it's easier for everyone if the horse is tacked, lunged, and lightly ridden at the beginning of their 3 year old year and then put out to pasture to grow, then started again as a 4 year old, having already learned some basics. But obviously that is in a perfect world, which ours isn't.

                                        But I'm not giving up hope on my pretty mare! She's super sweet, talented, and intelligent, and if I didn't believe in her, I wouldn't bother