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What are your favorite exercises for the (VERY) green horse?

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    What are your favorite exercises for the (VERY) green horse?

    Hi all!

    I bought a TB off the track at the beginning of June with a very slight bow. We've been cleared by the vet to start working under saddle at the walk (his ultrasounds look GREAT)! and I would love to use this time to set a great foundation.

    So what are your favorite exercises to introduce to the young horse? We have worked so far on relaxing at the walk, turning and walking on a loose rein (this is his favorite thing! He will walk with his nose in the footing all day long).

    We have a great trainer and are working on moving off the inside leg and yielding to light rein aids, but since we are only working at the walk I'm not having her out frequently and could use some inspiration for new exercises.

    Last edited by Twigster; Aug. 20, 2015, 11:40 PM.
    Reasons I'm crazy, #37: I went out shopping for a pony and came home with a 17hh OTTB
    ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~

    Standing and watching lessons or groups of people riding. Not really an "exercise" per say, but my 4 year old learned patience very quickly this way. Sometimes we stand outside of the arena, sometimes in the corner.

    If I feel the riders can navigate around me well enough I will walk on the outside track to let him get used to other horses walk-trot-cantering in both directions. My barn has a great group of clients who are all very understanding and give me enough space as we walk. And I am always aware of what exercises are being done so I don't walk in the exact spot that a person is half passing to.


      Original Poster

      Oh thanks DY! That is a perfect idea. We don't have a very busy barn, there are only 6 horses, but whenever I can get him to practice patience while others ride I will do it!
      Reasons I'm crazy, #37: I went out shopping for a pony and came home with a 17hh OTTB
      ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


        Practice opening and closing gates. All horses need to master this, and since you want to always take all the time in the world to make sure you teach it correctly, it's the best thing to start out young horses. They have to learn to move away from leg, give to the rein, move the exact amount of steps you ask, wait, deal with you leaning over and moving, dropping your rein and standing, etc.


          Now is a great time to educate your horse about the bit. Work on getting lateral flexion and expanding it to lateral bend from head to toe. Just large, arc rather than circle type bend to begin with. Teach your horse to get that bend more and more off legs, then seat, filling the outside rein, and truly bending through the ribcage (which involves rotating the rib cage.) All the basics taught now while you're taking it easy walking will just help make everything else easier 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.


            This past winter when the footing was less than perfect, I worked with my mare doing figure 8's and large serpentines. I found these exercises helped to keep her interested and help her learn to accept contact and move off leg. I also had her walk over a pole or two on the ground and if several poles were laid out near each other, I would have her walk between them to help keep her straight and forward. I also worked on backing.


              Hacking outdoors. Ideally on all kinds of terrain if his tendon is ready for that.


                Walk - whoa.....from the seat without use of the rein. Simple transitions. Transitions at the walk.
                Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.
                Alfred A. Montapert


                  Should have mentioned when I first got my mare, I rarely rode her in the ring. I would go in, use the mounting block to get on. Walk around a couple of times and re-check the girth. Then up and down the driveway if I was alone. If my riding buddy was there we would go out in the woods with the dogs.


                    Original Poster

                    Thank you for all the great ideas! We are currently just using the driveway outside right now, it's about a quarter mile long, but the vet is coming to recheck on Wednesday so I will ask her then if he's ready for uneven surfaces
                    Reasons I'm crazy, #37: I went out shopping for a pony and came home with a 17hh OTTB
                    ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


                      Brakes are always good. Confirm walk-whoa.....and will pay you back 1000 fold if you are ever in a pickle.
                      Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.
                      Alfred A. Montapert


                        A trail ride.
                        The Noodle
                        Boy Wonder
                        The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!


                          Originally posted by Displaced Yankee View Post
                          Standing and watching lessons or groups of people riding. Not really an "exercise" per say, but my 4 year old learned patience very quickly this way. Sometimes we stand outside of the arena, sometimes in the corner.

                          If I feel the riders can navigate around me well enough I will walk on the outside track to let him get used to other horses walk-trot-cantering in both directions. My barn has a great group of clients who are all very understanding and give me enough space as we walk. And I am always aware of what exercises are being done so I don't walk in the exact spot that a person is half passing to.

                          For a horse who is walk only.. I like exposing them to things, rather than doing certain exercises.. So they might get an introduction to having the lunge line tossed at them, rubbed around them, etc.. or the whip waved around.. with my guy who was on layup we did lots of come/stop/stay -- teaching him to come at a whistle was hard but I'm hoping it will come handy if we, ahem, ever part ways.

                          I also did lots of desensitizing with him - he had a lunge line (unattached to him) pulled around his leg, a tarp on his body, poles every which way, loud noises, etc. We had a small barn too so I had to wait a while before there were people in the ring but you can bet we were parked in the center watching the rides. Good for an OTTB because some of them don't like being near other horses mounted.

                          The walk is also the easiest gait to introduce new concepts. I taught my guy to do leg yields and TOH before I ever even sat on him. He was introduced to the side reins at a hand walk, and was introduced to long lining as well -- all while rehabbing from a collateral ligament injury. There are lots of things you can do (within reason) if the injury is not that severe - I cleared all of my work with my vet before doing it.

                          I also spent the entire winter polishing his verbal cue arsenal.. He can whoa like no one's business.. and teaching him to lunge after having all the verbal cues there was so, so easy.

                          Once it's okay for your guy to do circles etc, I love doing figure eights at any gait. I think it's such an underused exercise and is really fantastic for suppling them up and teaching them rhythm, changes of bend, etc.

                          However for your guy with a bow, I'd stick to the ring. Trails are one of the best things you can do for a TB off the track BUT not when he has something he is recovering from.. you can save the trails for when his bow is cold and set. Good luck!
                          AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


                            Another thing I have done is what I call the patience gait. When I am riding, I may stop in the middle of the ring and stand there for a little bit, or as Beowulf mentioned stand next to the ring to watch a lesson. My mare is expected to stand still until I ask her to walk on. I have also done a ton of desensitizing exercises, like dragging things while I was leading her. Haven't done it mounted yet, but we drug empty gallon plastic jugs and a small child's wagon. We have walked over tarps. At the last barn where she boarded, there was a vaulting dummy right next to the ring. It was covered with tarps when not in use. Occasionally when we were riding the vaulters would come out to practice. She would stand there fascinated with what they were doing. The last few weeks at the barn have been awesome for her. The manager/trainer has had pony camp. Lots of giggling, and groups of children walking past. Being patted and given treats(her favorite) by a gaggle of children. There is a hot walker at current barn that was not being used so manager/trainer's SO attached tires and made it into a swing for the kids. Had to walk her by the other day to go in the barn while the kids were "swinging". She had such a puzzled look on her face, like- that looks familiar, but I don't remember it was used like that at the track...