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How Are Horses Started in Europe?

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  • How Are Horses Started in Europe?

    Cross-posted in Sport Horse Breeding also.

    I viewed a DVD the other day of 25 sale horses that are to be auctioned in Germany by Performance Sales International. The horses ranged in age from 3 to 5 or 6. Every single one of them had forward fancy gaits, moved uphill and were round and steady in the bridle. So my question is: how are these young horses started and are there people in the US that can start them the same way. I have a youngster that I need to have started in the spring and would love to know more about the methods used by the people who break horses. Yes, I do know that there is an "auction trot", but these horses were beautifully started and happy in their work. I'd be interested in learning more about the "system". The riders in the video were mostly young women who were beautiful, quiet riders who could really follow the horse's movements and not inhibit them. Very impressive.
    Last edited by Shenandoah; Dec. 1, 2009, 10:48 AM.

  • #2
    Well you might get a different answer from OTHERS on this board, saying how these horses are not being ridden correctly and are overfaced blah, blah, blah... But in my experience they are started very simply, put the bridle and saddle on, lunge in side reins for a few weeks, get on and ride the horse correctly. Americans seem to have strange ideas that starting horses is alot more complicated then it really is, and you need some cowboy horse whisperer and you need to do all this sacking out.
    No its, very easy, especially if you have good young riders to sit quietly and ride the horse correctly. But they are immediately ridden on the bit, foreward, walk, trot, canter and oh my gosh, even half steps and extended gaits! Very early on, for shame!

    Comment


    • #3
      It would depend on whether you are taking a youngster to auction or not. Young horses need time at the basics to develop the correct muscling, before the more advanced work. They don't get it if they are being prepared for the auctions.
      ... _. ._ .._. .._

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      • #4
        Lunge for a few weeks- 3 months in sidereins (depending on horse) to build up the muscling in the back. Then get on and ride. Teach them forward from the start, and be consistent.

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        • #5
          I have a friend who has a young horse in Germany being started. Much cheaper for her to leave him there with a super super young horse trainer. She sends me his videos. Lovely horse, forward forward forward. That is all that needs doing at age 3. The horse never learns that no is an option to the leg, and the forward becomes lovely rhythm, round, into the contact. The horse is busy doing his job of forward and spends less time worrying about things to spook at. Very simple, very consistent. The difference between here and there is that in Europe there are lots of "hungry" young horse trainers that are good, and want good young horses to train. They want to establish themselves, gradually increase clientel, move up the levels. Most of the big names started like this. The trainer she has the horse with worked with Balkenhol as a student, then moved out on his own. Moreover, there are lots in a relatively small area. She can keep the horse there for a year for half of what it would cost here.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by mickeydoodle View Post
            I have a friend who has a young horse in Germany being started. Much cheaper for her to leave him there with a super super young horse trainer. She sends me his videos. Lovely horse, forward forward forward. That is all that needs doing at age 3. The horse never learns that no is an option to the leg, and the forward becomes lovely rhythm, round, into the contact. The horse is busy doing his job of forward and spends less time worrying about things to spook at. Very simple, very consistent. The difference between here and there is that in Europe there are lots of "hungry" young horse trainers that are good, and want good young horses to train. They want to establish themselves, gradually increase clientel, move up the levels. Most of the big names started like this. The trainer she has the horse with worked with Balkenhol as a student, then moved out on his own. Moreover, there are lots in a relatively small area. She can keep the horse there for a year for half of what it would cost here.
            My trainer, who is a USDF Certified 4th level trainer originally from Germany starts them in this way. She started my 3 yr old -I had taught him to lunge, got him used to tack and sat on his back only. She had him for 6 weeks, about the first half was long lining only. Then once she was happy with that she got on him. He was W/T/C with prompt responsiveness being the key. I have been riding him home alone every since. Can't say enough about how happy I am with him. But he has an exceptional mind which helps...
            "The sea was angry that day, my friends - like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli"

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            • #7
              Be careful if you have a horse without an exceptional mind. My boy is a very dominant, rebellious type (he is a TB)...He was started this way, he was beautiful when ridden 'perfectly', but at the slightest imperfection things go downhill instantly. I think if he would have stayed in training for a year it could go well. With a different horse, the results would have been great. Make sure your horse will work well with this program. I think my boy felt stifled and shut-down, every chance he had he tried to escape. I saw this early on and hoped he would work through it, but as it started becoming worse I decided to bring him home because I didn't feel the ultimate 'battle' that I thought would come would leave me the same horse-personality wise- as much as he is difficult, it makes him who he is and (somehow) I love him. Good luck finding a trainer that works well for your horse, because this method did not work well for mine. L

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              • #8
                A lot of times, horses get started, then put back out in the pasture for half a year or so... maybe your horse just needed a break JohnnyB?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by cute_lil_fancy_pants_pony View Post
                  Well you might get a different answer from OTHERS on this board, saying how these horses are not being ridden correctly and are overfaced blah, blah, blah... But in my experience they are started very simply, put the bridle and saddle on, lunge in side reins for a few weeks, get on and ride the horse correctly. Americans seem to have strange ideas that starting horses is alot more complicated then it really is, and you need some cowboy horse whisperer and you need to do all this sacking out.
                  No its, very easy, especially if you have good young riders to sit quietly and ride the horse correctly. But they are immediately ridden on the bit, foreward, walk, trot, canter and oh my gosh, even half steps and extended gaits! Very early on, for shame!
                  My trainer starts youngsters this way. She was trained in Switzerland. Her training is a wonderful investment that is always paid back in a huge way — and the horses are happy and thrive. There are folks who train this way on this side of the pond. One just needs to take the time to find one.
                  Mary Lou
                  http://www.homeagainfarm.com

                  https://www.facebook.com/HomeAgainFarmHanoverians

                  Member OMGiH I loff my mares clique

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                  • #10
                    I agree there are trainers here who do it well, but they are not as plentiful and in a small area as in Europe. My friend was able to buy her horse from a breeder and had a choice of 6 or 7 trainers within 50kilometers.

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                    • #11
                      OP - As stated there are trainers who work well with youngsters in the US - where are you located?

                      (I ask that as if you're in WIsconsin I'm sure you don't want to pay to have a horse shipped to Florida for that training if you could ship within the same state and receive like training.)
                      Now in Kentucky

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                      • #12
                        I had the pleasure of observing a young horse being started by a great trainer when I was in Germany. It took 2 weeks.

                        Said filly was a large and well bred Hannovarian, and was used to being handled and groomed when we started, but had never had tack on.

                        Day one, they put the saddle and bridle on, and took it off.
                        Day two, they put the saddle and bridle on, and led her around the ring some.
                        Day 3 they did a little lunging with the tack on... no side reins. Mostly just trotting for about 10 minutes
                        Day 4- 8 more lunging.
                        Day 9, lungeing, then put a light weight rider with a great seat up on her, and lead him around a bit.
                        Day 10, same thing.
                        Day 11, lungeing horse with rider on. Again, only about 10-15 minutes total, but nice and forward. The rider provided a soft contact for her to find, and you could see she was finding her way forward and down.
                        Day 12, lungeing horse with rider on.
                        Day 13, lungeing horse with rider, followed by a couple of laps around the ring off the lunge (just around the outside edge, with one change across the diagonal) (kind of following an older horse as needed)
                        Day 14, same thing.

                        When I was there, I remember being struck by how fast it all happened. I had broken in horses before, and always took a much slower approach. But, at least in this case, it seemed to work great. The trainer said he likes to move at a pace that is comfortable for hte horse, but not so slow and comfortable that the horse gets bored or starts to act out. That made a lot of sense to me. This particular filly was intelligent and willing, but she was also big. I think it made sense to keep her just a BIT insecure so that they didn't invite any acting up. I think it also made a world of difference that both the trainer and the rider were top class.

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