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Young Horse Spinoff--winter plans

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    Young Horse Spinoff--winter plans

    I have a 3 year old that I imported earlier this year (he will be four in april). He was started super lightly in Europe practically the day he turned three-this past april (IMHO too early, but they didn't do much with him). Since then, he's been in work about 3-4 days a week, 20-30 min at a time (with the occasional 45 min ride when I lesson). I usually lesson 1x a week, ride one time a week, and then either hack or do a light lunge the other day. Everything has been easy w/t/c focusing on staying forward and starting to work over his back. He can circles and serpentines and the 1 loop like in T3, etc but mostly, as long as he is forward, it's pretty laid back work. Physically and mentally he looks quite mature for his age, and does seem to enjoy the work, and especially loves the hacks.

    After all that, my question is--what should I do with him over the winter? I'd played with the idea of giving him the winter off to grow and mature, and because my trainer will be in FL for the winter, but I don't know if it would be better to keep doing easy rides on him instead. I live in the south, so usually winter is better for riding than the summer! But.. I keep reminding myself he's only 3--I don't want to have to worry about maintenance when he's 10 b/c he was pushed too soon (my trainer thinks his workload currently isn't too hard for him, but like I said, I'm worried a bit about overdoing it.)

    Please, helpful comments only! TIA!
    Follow my instagram @snafflesandwellies for all things horses + fashion!

    What you're doing doesn't sound too hard for him, but I don't think it would hurt him to have the winter off, either. It sounds like he's a pretty easy baby, so you have options.

    I also have a three year old warmblood and I started basically from scratch with the ground work this spring, and my plan was to just do some easy walk/trot and rudimentary steering this fall, and then start under saddle "for real" in the spring. But it turned out that she was a serious bucker and so she's in the middle of 60 days with a cowboy, and then if I can swing it, she will get 90 days with another trainer over the winter because I want her completely over the bucking and don't want to have to deal with it again in the spring when she's bigger, stronger and more opinionated.


      I'd give him the winter off. I started my 4 yo last October (at 3.5), put a few rides on her and gave her winter off. Started up again in the spring, and I'll again give her winter off. I think some time off to grow is a good thing, but that's just me...
      "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran


        My 3 y/o is getting the winter off.

        I sat on him and walked around a few times in March, then he got 6ish weeks off, worked 2-3 times a week until mid June (WT then WTC), then got another 6 weeks off, then started back up beginning of August (WTC and hacking 2-3 times a week). Went to a clinic at the end of September, and he's had only 1 or 2 rides since then.

        (He's sick at the moment, but once he's better I'll ride him for another week or 2 before his winter growing vacation.)


          The winter off certainly won't hurt but you could always just go trail riding or work him in hand over obstacles a couple times a week and other fun stuff like that. Exposure and miles that are low impact are always beneficial.

          I have a coming three year old (related to Pocket Pony's pony) who I plan to back in the spring/early summer. I will be ground driving and long lining him over the winter as well as ponying him on the trails.

          In fact that brings me to my other winter project. I just bought a Navajo Mustang stallion (who will be gelded once he's put on some weight) that is 5/6 and was captured recently on the range. He's obviously been started the Navajo way and a kid picked him up from a scavenger (rounded up a bunch of Indian ponies that wandered off the reservation and was told to return them but the Nation didn't want them back) so a kid with no money and no business but definitely with a good seat bought him to flip. I, probably making the biggest mistake of my life, decided to buy him off of her even though she was asking way too much 'cause he's sick, skinny, has a draining abscess, bilateral pink eye and a knot on his side of course I couldn't pass him up LOL......but he's so sensible and has the best bone. So getting back to the point, I think he's closer to 5 by his teeth and will be 're' starting him and using him as our 'go to' trail and babysitter mount. Yes, I did ride him and he's pretty solid between the ears and is a nice mover. I'll be riding him about 2-3 times a week to start and gradually building him up as he gains weight over the winter. He's around 15 hands but may even grow some now that he'll be getting groceries and some vet care. I'm going to treat him as a 3 year old but expect that by spring he'll be going more like a seasoned 10 year old just based on his disposition. He's a mongrel with a dressage approach should be in order, right?
          Ranch of Last Resort


            Exvet, how fun and exciting! I've loved my mustang experience...and yours sounds like a nice fun project! Pictures?
            "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran


              I think it's good for them to have a nice long break to grow up - at least 6 or 8 weeks. Outside of his break, I'd focus more on trail rides, de-spooking stuff, field trips to other farms/shows. If he doesn't long-ling yet, teach him. I don't love longing them much at such a young age.


                Exvet - I hope to see your mustang in person sometime! Sounds like a blast!

                I would go on long walks over varied terrain. I think it's great for a youngster to have some time off (the 6 months my mare got at four were unintentional - sick/injured on my part, then she popped her face and I couldn't put anything on her head until she healed so it was all neck rope to handle her until that was better...) But one of the best investments you can make in future soundness is walking over a wide variety of terrain. Just slow, low impact work.
                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.


                  I have been wondering basically the same thing about my 3-year-old. I had thought I might give him some time off over the winter but my trainer thinks he will be better off continuing in work. He doesn't work very hard truthfully, and me + saddle = only about a tenth of his body weight (he's a big boy and very mature-looking for his age).

                  I would like to hack 1-2 days a week with another 1-2 days of ring work but of course it will be very weather/footing-dependent as I only have an outdoor. I like netg's idea of long walks over varied terrain. I'm lucky to have nice trails right behind my farm so I can make that happen, depending on the weather.

                  I did give my boy a month off in September because he was going through a growth spurt and seemed awkward. He didn't lose any ground in his training. I did trail ride him 2 or 3 times during that month, and he was perfectly well-behaved going on a trail after not being ridden for a couple weeks (love his brain!). So I know that if there's a period of bad weather and I can't or don't want to ride, he will be fine. But I'm hoping to make a go of qualifying for Young Horse championships so some amount of fitness and correct work will be important.

                  OP, due to your location maybe you could plan to give your fellow time off in the summer instead, when riding is less pleasant anyway? It sounds like what you're doing is light enough that it won't hurt him but the time off might make you feel better, without forcing you to miss out on good riding weather. Of course, if you start to feel uncomfortable in your trainer's absence, you could scale back to just hacks.
                  Building and Managing the Small Horse Farm:


                    Original Poster

                    Thanks so much for all the replies so far! Although this is my first baby this young (though my last guy was 4 when I got him), my gut is saying to give him at least a little time off. But I love the idea of teaching him to longline and doing long walks with some easy hacks every now and then! Please keep the ideas coming!
                    Follow my instagram @snafflesandwellies for all things horses + fashion!


                      I would probably give him the winter off...

                      I have a 3 year old Warmblood as well. She was started in the spring about 10 rides on her. Then we turned her back out on the pasture and restarted her 2 weeks ago. We lunged her first and today rode her for the first time since spring.
                      We plan to work her over the winter to get her ready for the young horses classes next year. But she had all summer off. I am also usually very careful about young horses because everything is still soft and growing


                        I've been working really hard this year with my 5 year old, and we've aaalmoost mastered our training level work. I have decided to board her at a farm with an indoor for the winter, as I don't want her to backslide in her training (or fitness!). The hope would be to show her in April/May when show season starts back up again and confirm our training level work, then spend next year working on 1st/2nd.

                        Exciting year for us!


                          I'm of the mind that light work is good -- bone and soft tissue develop and strengthen under stress (light stress, I should add!). I'd trail ride/hack a couple times a week and let your youngster learn about the world. Not real "work" per se, but still a learning experience and moving forward while not pushing the physical development too much.


                            Oh! And my own winter plans... I live where we have actual winter and no indoor. I just bought an unbroke 4 year old, and have just gotten as far as leaning over her while walking. My plan is to get a leg over before winter, and hopefully spend the winter doing some walking around the property and get her semi conditioned to do more in the spring. There's a chance she may be moving to the city and an indoor for a period over the winter (I am likely taking a job and living there 1/2 time), so might take advantage of a 6 week period where I'll be there 5 days/week and get her going a bit more. Otherwise it's waiting til spring and sticking with ground work and such. She's been pretty darn quiet, so I'm optimistic! I think she's still got some growing to do so I won't be pushing it, I'll be super excited just to do walk conditioning and potentially simple trotting if we get to the indoor.


                              Pocket Pony - working on it Oh, I think I've found the source of the abscess. The Navajo Nation is required as part of their Range Control program to microchip their horses.....and low and behold.

                              netg - if you ever want to go trail riding, I can make it happen. I'm not sure I'm going to be taking this guy to any dressage shows.

                              Here is the only one I'll post in public. The others show just how bad he really looks LOL.....

                              Last edited by exvet; Oct. 27, 2016, 12:35 AM.
                              Ranch of Last Resort


                                If I lived in a climate where I could hack out all winter---that would be my preferred activity for a 3 year old. Last winter my mare was 3. I did hack her out in the summer---but unfortunately, due to lack of light after work, and weather--was stuck in the indoor from Nov - Mar pretty much. I did keep her in work--3 days a week. Nothing too hard, sometimes lunging, sometimes just riding lightly. My trainer (who imports a lot of horses at age 3) works them 3 days a week and puts them through a jump chute 1 day a week in the winter. Have fun with your new youngster!


                                  We lightly started my three-year-old mid September but he will have the winter off starting mid December. We'll pick the training back up in the spring. I think having a break is good for them, physically and mentally. Even my mature horses get at least a month off during the dead of winter.


                                    Originally posted by exvet View Post
                                    Pocket Pony - working on it Oh, I think I've found the source of the abscess. The Navajo Nation is required as part of their Range Control program to microchip their horses.....and low and behold.

                                    netg - if you ever want to go trail riding, I can make it happen. I'm not sure I'm going to be taking this guy to any dressage shows.

                                    Here is the only one I'll post in public. The others show just how bad he really looks LOL.....

                                    I looooove trail riding. Depending on the type of trail riding, I might take my mare or get my mom's mare fit enough to be able to go.... We should do it!

                                    Also - super cute pic! He reminds me of my rescue mare of unknown origin there. She's a companion horse (crippled from a major barbed wire injury around 2 years old) but similar type of babysitter personality.
                                    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.


                                      Cute, exvet- he's lucky to have landed with you! Have fun!
                                      "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran


                                        I'm in netg.....just name the time and place. Thank you Pocket Pony. I certainly hope to. His 'illnesses' (eyes and abscess) have already improved immensely. I hope everyone has fun over the winter with their various projects even if it's just watching them grow and mature.
                                        Ranch of Last Resort