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Young horse training- the first year

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    Young horse training- the first year

    The "young horse trainers" thread got me thinking. Interested to hear from all of you who do bring along youngsters. What do you focus on AFTER backing through the first year of work? I know that training for young horses does not always proceed on a linear path---but wondering what you like to do with a youngster that has already been backed and understands the basics.

    The book that I have been reading is Reiner Klimke's book "Basic Training of the Young Horse" which outlines how they start their horses and some suggested timelines. It has been a useful reference for me. Interested to hear from others on what your typical plan is and what your expectations are for that first year.

    Right now, the weather is lovely and I am doing mostly hacking with my young horse. However, the time change and cold weather is just around the corner, so our riding will be transitioning to the indoor arena.

    I am interested in this as well. For me, with my new four year old (roughly 60 days undersaddle) I will be focusing on a couple of things. We will do some work in the ring to get him used to doing various aspects of basic flatwork, mostly just reinforcing the lessons to move off my seat and leg, stay light in the contact, and become more adjustable. I will also do a fair amount of work outside of the arena, hacking out and doing some trail riding. This is to prevent boredom/ring sourness for both of us (!) as well as to improve fitness, balance and introduce him to "other stuff"... just giving him a more well rounded education. We'll probably pop him over some modest jumps to do a little cross training and have some fun; I'm lucky that the place where I board is set up for eventers so there are quite a lot of natural obstacles and that kind of thing that we can play with. One thing we unfortunately don't have at the present time is an indoor, so we will be a little bit at the mercy of mother nature for a few months, but we're planning to spend at least a month of that time in FL so I don't think it will be too big of a deal. During our FL trip, my trainer and I will get some help from *his* trainer, with the goal of working on preparing for some of the young horse tests in the spring. Should be fun!
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    Last edited by Lucassb; Sep. 30, 2015, 10:40 AM.
    We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


      My goals for first year are generally, WTC, leg yield, shoulder in, hacking out alone and in company, working alone and with other horses, trailering out for hacking and for low key shows.

      Most horses can easily do that in style and more can be asked of them - harder transitions, travers, etc. My current horse, not so much. It has taken 2 years of occasional trailering out for her to be actually rideable at the other end of the trailer ride. Life is just SO EXCITING!!!!!!!! for her It's ok, the horse dictates the pace. She chose to savour every last experience and has really enjoyed some of the crazier stuff (skijoring 8 months after I backed her!) so it's all good.
      Ahhhh, spring is here. The birds are singing, the trees are budding and the paddocks are making their annual transformation from cake mix to cookie dough.


        My mare is a late bloomer, and it wasn't until this year (her 5 year old year) that she really started developing muscle. I knew she would be, and actually prefer a late bloomer because I feel when they develop muscle and power early, they often put extra stress and strain on their joints, ligaments and tendons - and can cause injuries even careful riding can't prevent.

        So with that caveat, we taught her the basics of contact, basic transitions, w/t/c, basics of lateral work without ever asking for enough angle to stress her immature body, lots and lots of long walking trail rides over varying terrain, and relaxation. She is high energy, and we mostly worked on her brain - teaching her to use that energy to move, rather than to tighten up. The mild lateral work was very useful to help get relaxation in her body, and we were always working to get her to lengthen her neck stretching toward the contact instead of holding tension in a short neck.

        Her first show was after a year and a half under saddle, and she was exactly like she had been at home; the work we did helped her immensely, and while for some horses showing early works just fine, for her waiting was definitely the right decision.

        Edit: We did do some clinics at my trainer's, starting off with 1/2 rides, so 15-20 minutes. Throughout the first year, other than trail riding our rides were very rarely over 20 minutes, and usually 2-3 a week.
        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.


          Mine is in his four year old year and has been under saddle since last January. I echo what the others here have said: WTC, leg yields, playing with shoulder-in, LOTS of figures, a little easy counter canter. Mainly we're focusing on getting him to stretch into the contact and are starting to ask him to take more weight behind now that he's quite balanced and getting well muscled.

          In addition to his dressage work we hack out (usually alone, sometimes with another horse or two) at least once a week. We do a little jumping every couple of weeks. I wanted to school cross country this summer but didn't get out there, will definitely be doing that next spring/summer. I keep him at home and haul out to ride so I have purposely hauled him to as many places as I can. He has been to six different arenas and two shows, plus hacking out in three or four different locations. We have met loose dogs, cows, bikes, and pony carts to name a few. A BIG part of my training this year has been about exposure. He has seen a ton of stuff and learned to stand on the trailer for as long as I need him to be there.


            I pretty much have the same approach as the others. We do the basic walk, trot, and canter with some easy leg yields and start some shoulder-in. I'll also include basic work over ground poles and cavaletti. In addition, we spend a lot of time outside the arena trail riding and experiencing life. I like to get my youngsters comfortable with trailering and traveling so we'll also do a lot of that. Every youngster is different but, at the end of the first year under saddle, they're usually pretty solid with the basics in the arena, reliable on the trail, and decent travelers who are good about loading and reasonably comfortable going new places. I like them to be as well-rounded as possible.


              My 5 year old has been under saddle since about May of last year. However, she started out incredibly weak and one-sided, so I took it slow with her for the first several months and continued to focus on ground work, with riding 1-2 times per week for ~15-20 minutes through most of the summer. During winter, riding 3x per week is about the best I could do anyway, so this spring I started ramping up her work level, and she has been able to start moving into more difficult work this summer after a frankly boring first year. I did start taking her to low-key events like a small western schooling show, intro-level test of choice, ground poles at winter jumping shows, etc. when she was about 60 days under saddle, as well as trail riding to work on her strength. Due to the slow start, I'd say she now has almost the equivalent of 1-year of training had she started off at a more normal strength level. We have recently been introducing shoulder-in, rein-back, 1/4 TOH, haunches in and a little more serious lengthening, collected trot, stretchy circle at T and C, and very beginner W/C transitions (canter has been most difficult for her). Oh yeah, I also try to do some gymnastic jumping with her once a week or so as well.


                Originally posted by Clair2014 View Post
                I pretty much have the same approach as the others. We do the basic walk, trot, and canter with some easy leg yields and start some shoulder-in. I'll also include basic work over ground poles and cavaletti. In addition, we spend a lot of time outside the arena trail riding and experiencing life. I like to get my youngsters comfortable with trailering and traveling so we'll also do a lot of that. Every youngster is different but, at the end of the first year under saddle, they're usually pretty solid with the basics in the arena, reliable on the trail, and decent travelers who are good about loading and reasonably comfortable going new places. I like them to be as well-rounded as possible.
                Oh, I did introduce ground poles as well. Back to her being physically immature, it wasn't to develop thrust or change anything in her striding, but just to start getting the idea of how to go over poles across. Turns out she locks on and heads for dead center, naturally adjusting herself if she has the chance. And in early rides, my trainer discovered she would do the same thing with the dressage arena fence before she fully understood steering with a rider... and she apparently has nice form over 8" fences....
                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.