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Starting the Young Horse

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  • Starting the Young Horse

    Hi all! It's been a long time since I was in the eventing scene and also a long time since I taught my now 20yo to jump!

    I bought a now 4.25yo around 6 months ago and have been just doing basic walk/trot/canter and 3 weeks ago started little cross rails with him.

    He's now confidently trotting over these small cross rails, so I put one up to a small vertical (no more than 18 inches) and popped over that a couple of times.

    Now my question is... what would be the next best step? We finally got into our local riding club (after being on the wait list for 2 years!) so looking forward to some instruction from next month.

  • #2
    From what you are posting, I assume you never have started a youngster before. If that is the case, the next step is to get with a good trainer who has this experience who can guide you. I will assume the local riding club gives you that access. Good! Consistent, directed training is key and not something that can be described or instilled via a bulletin board.

    In my experience, you have 2 years of intensive work to do in all aspects of training and no one "next step" exists. Training young horses is NOT a linear process that can be done like assembling furniture.

    Learning to train a horse via the internet is absolutely folly and only yields mediocre, at best, and dangerous, at worst, results.

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    • #3
      I read it that she HAS started a youngster, but it was 15- 20 years ago.
      Janet

      chief feeder and mucker for Music, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now). Spy is gone. April 15, 1982 to Jan 10, 2019.

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      • #4
        I vote introducing lines, courses, and grids both at the trot and canter. Aim for straightness, calm behavior before and aver the fences and steering. Also pole work for both trot and canter to get your youngster to think about picking up their feet effectively and quickly. Also introducing natural style jumps.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by horseshorseshorseshorses View Post
          I vote introducing lines, courses, and grids both at the trot and canter. Aim for straightness, calm behavior before and aver the fences and steering. Also pole work for both trot and canter to get your youngster to think about picking up their feet effectively and quickly. Also introducing natural style jumps.
          However, given the horse is only 4, several anatomic components have not matured. I would be more focused on building muscle (trail rides, long hacks) and fundamental dressage. Right now is when you can develop the physiology and biology to handle work, improve intrinsic healing at the cellular levels.

          As for jumping, why add courses when you can focus on single fences, letting the horse develop a form for their own pace and structure? Now is the time to create confidence and the 5th leg which all can be done without pounding over fences (jump a few times a month, maybe).

          I post this as a point to the fact that training advice over the internet is rather pointless without a dedicated, knowledgable person involved who knows the horse and rider. There a numerous roads to Rome, but without knowing goals, abilities of both horse and rider, any advice we can give is actually specious.

          Teaching a horse to jump 15-20 years ago leaves a lot of holes in one's knowledge.

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          • #6
            The horse is 5 this year (biologically 4.75 ish). IMHO, it's perfectly reasonable to add some variety to his life when you feel like the basics of his flatwork and strength are solid enough - pole exercises, small grids, courses, and natural obstacles outside the ring are all fair game. Focus on quality, not quantity. Let him do an exercise calmly and obediently once or twice, then leave it. Never set him up with an exercise he isn't fully prepared to get right. Confidence is most important.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by RAyers View Post

              However, given the horse is only 4, several anatomic components have not matured. I would be more focused on building muscle (trail rides, long hacks) and fundamental dressage. Right now is when you can develop the physiology and biology to handle work, improve intrinsic healing at the cellular levels.

              As for jumping, why add courses when you can focus on single fences, letting the horse develop a form for their own pace and structure? Now is the time to create confidence and the 5th leg which all can be done without pounding over fences (jump a few times a month, maybe).

              I post this as a point to the fact that training advice over the internet is rather pointless without a dedicated, knowledgable person involved who knows the horse and rider. There a numerous roads to Rome, but without knowing goals, abilities of both horse and rider, any advice we can give is actually specious.

              Teaching a horse to jump 15-20 years ago leaves a lot of holes in one's knowledge.
              We can agree to disagree on when it is appropriate to start a young horse over fences and courses. At 4 I don't expect a horse to be able to do 1 strides, bounces or other fancy foot work courses but it is reasonable to start to introduce 4-5 stride lines, turning a corner to a diagonal or asking them to be straight through a line and once they are confident at that stringing them together. You don't need to jump a horse at a large height to meet those goals. In fact most can be done with poles on the ground.

              The OP will be gaining instruction in the upcoming month and I would guess what I suggested will be on the training agenda. 99% of people who ask advice on the internet the responders will never know the OP's experience level. But people still ask and people still respond. It is the nature of anonymous forums. I think Brydie asked a reasonable question. Would it have been better to ask their trainer in a month? Sure but maybe they are bored or their horse is bored or they are just curious at what the next step will be. I was simply offering one of the roads to Rome.

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              • Original Poster

                #8
                Thanks for your replies!

                horseshorseshorseshorses you've pretty much hit the nail on the head. I basically want to know what I'd be doing next or what else I can do to prevent us from becoming bored with jumping 18" fences. We ride 3-4 days a week for 30-40 minutes. 2 dressage schools, 1 in the jump paddock and 1 "hack" (which is a walk around the residential area... sucks living in a city that keeps expanding outwards!!!)

                I only have 3 jumps so we've just been trotting over those. Whenever I add something new I only do it between 1 to 3 times depending on how it goes then leave it. He's confident over cross rails now so I introduced a vertical which he did well once, fluffed it the second time (wanted to do it once each way) and then did a good job the 3rd time so left it at that. When he's confident over verticals I might introduce a small oxer. I really just wanted to know when to introduce perhaps small grids or begin cantering to fences (or if there's an order you should do that in).

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by RAyers View Post
                  Training young horses is NOT a linear process that can be done like assembling furniture.
                  What? You mean there aren't any Ikea jumps with a height for each level and numbered standards?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'd start putting fillers in, making sure you're building his confidence at each and every step. You want him to think he can conquer the world out there, that there's nothing he can't do. Keep the height pretty low when introducing new stuff, but raise it accordingly.

                    I'd do some lines, nice and long - 4-5 strides.

                    I'd set two poles 5 strides apart and begin working on adjustability at the canter. Can you fit 4? How about 6?

                    Along with this, can you get to a pole on the correct striding? That's your eye, and his adjustability/steadiness you can work on.

                    You can keep the jumps super low and work on landing on the correct lead with a minor weight shift from you.

                    Some super easy grid work would be ok, nothing crazy that might rock his confidence.



                    Tons of stuff you can work on. As long as you're staying out of his way, it will only get better. Have fun!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Poles poles and more poles. When you master the poles, then turn them to x rails or small cavellettis.

                      Waiting lines - where you have 2 poles 5 strides apart. Add to make 6 or 7, take away to make 4. Repeat over and over until you have many canters to chose from reliably.

                      Canter poles. Start with 3, work up to 6 or 7. Not as easy as it sounds. These are great because you can start to encorporate x rails in the poles, and build the exercise up over time to multiple one strides with canter poles between.

                      Cavelletti. Check out Ingrid Klimkes book on exercises for young horses.

                      Circle of death with poles

                      Build up to simple gymnastic lines from there.
                      Boss Mare Eventing Blog

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Jenerationx View Post

                        What? You mean there aren't any Ikea jumps with a height for each level and numbered standards?
                        I know! It sucks!

                        With my young horses I have found that the more I try to dictate the ride, the worse the horse becomes, outside of our dressage work. Thus, with youngsters I spend most of my training on working to stay out of their way and letting them figure out how to jump or get over/around obstacles with me only staying quiet and stable on their backs.

                        I don’t do gymnastics or placement rails unless it becomes clear the horse needs it. Otherwise, I’ve never seen any of those in the show ring or on XC. I’m pretty sure a horse does not come up to a fence thinking “I saw this in an exercise at home and this is how I should do it.” They don’t have that cognitive capacity.

                        If my youngster is going well and has a natural talent, I just do what I do with focus on straight and me quiet. If they want to run, let them, they will figure out a pole in the shin hurts. As for leads, who cares? They need to be going to a fence and since we work counter canter in dressage, they should be able to carry a counter lead just as balanced and easy as a correct lead. And nobody judges the leads outside of the dressage phase.

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                        • #13
                          I agree. Most horses will take care of themselves and figure it out if you give them the space. When one of my friend's daughters took up riding and asked for advice on finding distances when she started jumping. I come from hunter land where it was all about keeping a good rhythm and looking like there was very little rider interference... I told her the best advice if you're not sure is just steer him straight and wait. Unless you're damn near walking, an honest horse will figure it out on his own.

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                          • #14
                            On my soapbox, again. The most important thing to teach a young horse is the flat work, interspersed with jaunts over hill and dale. If you find some low logs and streams on your jaunts so much the better.

                            The horse needs to be able to handle terrain. Jumping is a piece of cake, so long as the rider doesn't get in his way. So on jumping, focus on your form, preferably on a made horse that handles CC well.
                            Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                            Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I tend to jump a lot of single fences (trot a lot) but if they get it easily, you can add some baby gymnastics and easy lines...trotting in and cantering out of a 4-5 stride line is the best way to introduce canter fences (just make sure you have trotted over the “out” fence first. We usually put the jumps up a bit more than 18”.....more like 2’3” ish (But may start at 18”) for my green beans....but always start small....and when you introduce anything new, go lower....so adding filler, reduce height to start.....when doing baby gymnastics, keep it low and introduce slowly and progressively....poles on the ground first as you add an element and SHOW things to them first. Nothing wrong with letting them have a look and sniff before jumping it.....its all about setting up for success and keeping confident. I start a lot of young horses.....mine start jumping fillers from day one...often their first fences have flowers etc. I don’t typically jump a ton in any one school....like 10 jumps (or less) a school is fairly normally. I also rarely ride them more than 15 minutes in the ring (maybe a bit longer going for a hack) 3-5 times a week...usually ride 2-3 days, then 1-3 days off depending on my schedule/weather. Out of the ring out hacking is biggest thing and what we do the most when the weather is good. Winter, they get off or a few we keep going (depends on horse) and those we try and make sure not to drill. Poles on the ground, work on straightness and going forward. Do not drill anything. I find the babies learn best if you just jump a few fences often (like every other ride) rather than have a major jump school once a week.

                              You will get a lot of different advice on this topic.....in the end, you have to use common horse sense and it is better to err on the conservative side.
                              ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **

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