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What to do now with started 3yo?

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  • What to do now with started 3yo?

    Okay, here's my dilemma:

    I have a nice 3yo (4/2006) 3/4 TB, 1/4 WB gelding who had about 5 rides last year (just sit on and lead around), and has had about 15 rides over the last 6 weeks. At this point he can walk and trot in the ring and on trails. Brakes and steering have been installed and appear to be functioning nicely. Additionally, he has hacked out alone and in a group a few times. I've been riding him in a combination bridle/hackamore so that he's carrying a bit, but I have not attached the reins to the bit yet, just been working off the hackamore. He lunges in long side reins 1x/week and accepts the contact with fair consistency.

    Generally at this point, I'd give him the summer off, which I'm still contemplating doing. But, I'm not sure if that is the right decision for this horse. I've been contemplating a few options and would like some input as to what other people think.

    This is a fairly mature individual for his age, good brains and decently balanced. He's just over 16.1 now, dam was 16.3, and sire was 17.2, so I think he's got at least an inch if not more to grow. My string test comes out to 17-17.1hh. I have time to put some more rides on him this summer, but would still have another horse to ride if he was off (so it's not like I wouldn't be riding if he's off). In August I will be starting a new job, and plan to move him to a larger barn with indoor, etc and put him on stall board then. Right now he is on field board at a back-yard-type place with a small ring and good hacking.

    Option 1 is letting him have the rest of the summer off, and restarting once we're at the new barn for 2 weeks or so.

    Option 2 is stay off his back but lunge or pony 2-3x per week to keep him in some sort of work.

    Option 3 is to abandon the ring work unless there's a specific issue and hack at a walk 2-3 x/week. This horse LOVES to hack out thus far, he marches straight down the trail with ears pricked and has ignored other horses playing around him, traffic, deer, etc.

    Option 4 is to push the ring work a little further, whether by advancing to bitted work, canter, etc.

    Option 5 is to push the ring work with an eye on showing young horse u/s at some fall shows.

    Any thoughts, and why? I'm leaning towards hacking him out this summer..........

  • #2
    My vote is option 3. You get to keep him some type of work (IMHO, some babies get bored by their 3yo year and need something to do...at least mine have) but you'll keep his mind fresh. Trails are fun and there is plenty to teach him out there without stressing him out. He has the rest of his life for ringwork! He sounds like a really nice boy!

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    • #3
      I would do option 3 also, but maybe add a day of 20 minutes or so in the ring so he doesn't forget what he's learned.
      You can also start taking him to little schooling shows and stuff and walk him around, let him spend the night etc if you haven't been doing it already.
      "Perhaps the final test of anybody's love of dogs is their willingness to permit them to make a camping ground of the bed" -Henry T. Merwin

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      • #4
        Another vote for option 3. It sounds like fun for both of you!

        PS. I am envious of your nice hacking opportunity; we don't have the land for hacking out where I am.
        **********
        We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
        -PaulaEdwina

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        • #5
          #3 sounds like the option I'd go with
          Jen Evans & DaBear

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          • #6
            #3, but 15-20 in the arena twice a week won't hurt him a bit and then *I* would give him the winter off. (he won't be 4 until *next* year, right?)

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by Jaegermonster View Post
              You can also start taking him to little schooling shows and stuff and walk him around, let him spend the night etc if you haven't been doing it already.
              Thanks, he has shown on the line a few times, but I do plan to take him to some local shows and hopefully ride him around a bit. Staying overnight somewhere is a good idea. I get spoiled sometimes being smack in the middle of show country where I rarely need to stay overnight. Fair Hill has reasonable stall rates for their shows and it's not too far away, maybe I'll take a friend and do an overnight camping trip!

              Originally posted by Lucassb View Post
              PS. I am envious of your nice hacking opportunity; we don't have the land for hacking out where I am.
              I know I'm lucky with the hacking, I've boarded before with nowhere to ride and it's such a nice break to get out of the ring without having to trailer!

              Originally posted by Dune View Post
              #3, but 15-20 in the arena twice a week won't hurt him a bit and then *I* would give him the winter off. (he won't be 4 until *next* year, right?)
              Winter off isn't a problem since I hate the cold weather myself. I was planning on giving him Dec/Jan off and then starting back with the eye on doind some Spring shows and maybe even Devon young hunter u/s. Won't start jumping until next year probably. He already free jumps beautifully so don't want to push too much until he's fully ready.

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              • #8
                Sounds like you have a good plan.
                I used to take advantage of any and all opportunities when my mare was a baby (she's a homebred) to get her off the farm and to new places.
                I even took her to the post office sometimes. It's not far from the farm, and I would just trailer over, she would sit in the trailer for 5 minutes while I got stamps and then we would go home. Went to the feed store sometimes too if I only needed grain and they could put it in the back of the truck.
                I found once she was really ready to be ridden and be competitive at shows that all we really had to worry about was the riding part, being "AT" the show, spending the night, all the other new stuff was no big deal because we had done so much.
                It was a pain sometimes but really paid off in the long run..
                "Perhaps the final test of anybody's love of dogs is their willingness to permit them to make a camping ground of the bed" -Henry T. Merwin

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by InstigatorKate View Post
                  Thanks, he has shown on the line a few times, but I do plan to take him to some local shows and hopefully ride him around a bit. Staying overnight somewhere is a good idea. I get spoiled sometimes being smack in the middle of show country where I rarely need to stay overnight. Fair Hill has reasonable stall rates for their shows and it's not too far away, maybe I'll take a friend and do an overnight camping trip!



                  I know I'm lucky with the hacking, I've boarded before with nowhere to ride and it's such a nice break to get out of the ring without having to trailer!



                  Winter off isn't a problem since I hate the cold weather myself. I was planning on giving him Dec/Jan off and then starting back with the eye on doind some Spring shows and maybe even Devon young hunter u/s. Won't start jumping until next year probably. He already free jumps beautifully so don't want to push too much until he's fully ready.

                  Oh gosh, you know what you're doing, you don't need us telling you anything. You're doing GREAT!!!

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                  • #10
                    InstagatorKate

                    Hope I spelled that right!!! We are in the same boat, and the same zone if you are close to Fair Hill. My three year old 16.2 tb/old cross is right where yours is, training wise. I am going to try to keep him barefoot and just hack around the farm, with the occasional trip to a local show or two, and occasional stints in the round pen over a jump, It was reassuring to read your post and the responses to it......a good rule of thumb!!
                    "Over the Hill?? What Hill, Where?? I don't remember any hill!!!" Favorite Tee Shirt

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                    • #11
                      Great plan Kate, also an option 3 person here too!

                      My 3yo filly seems to be on the same program. I also started her last year at 2 and ended up with me being led around. She's just finishing up now - stall rest and stitches meant extra time. I plan on keeping things simple and fun for the summer and fall and also give her off for a couple of months in the winter.

                      JMO, but so much better to get them use to things early on so they aren't rushed and pushed as 4yo's which seems to be the norm here. Loads of that giving horses time to mature yet they go from 0-60 and expect things from the horse they just aren't capable of after having their own way for 4 years!Trust me we've broken these no work ethic mooses who come to us in March so they can't start showing by the end of April!

                      Terri
                      COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.

                      "I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.

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                      • #12
                        I would go with # 3 as well, and then give him time off after the fall for a few months to grow.

                        I basically did the same with my paint when he was 3, no trails around here so we hacked lightly in the ring a few days a week. Got used to the mounting block, being away from his pasture friend, and some other new things...I stopped on him after Labor Day and gave him the rest of the fall and winter to grow up. He remembered everything and was cheerfull and easy to start the following April. Lunged for literally 5 mins and got right on. In his 4 yr old year, I did a bit more flat work, light though, and jumped some low stuff, and a small 2'< course as we got to Labor Day, I then stopped again in October. I did go off property 2x for a lesson so he had the shipping boots on for the first time and loaded and shipped great. This year, I lunged for a few minutes, then a week later just got right on. At 5 now, he is ready to go to a few shows and do some flat classes. He has been incredibly easy and uncomplicated, the best young one as far as that goes I have ever had...

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                        • #13
                          I'm curious why you're not using the bit yet? Why the wait? - not trying to be contentious, I'm really curious.
                          Stoneybrook Farm Afton TN

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                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by tidy rabbit View Post
                            I'm curious why you're not using the bit yet? Why the wait? - not trying to be contentious, I'm really curious.
                            It depends on the horse, really. I used to see people start horses in bits right away, but it always bothered me that the first few times you need to make a point (ie "No, I meant TURN THIS WAY" or "STOP!") the horse would experience the bit as a painful sensation.

                            I spent a summer out in Colorado, and the horses there were always started in a Bosal, then western sidepull, then moved up to an actual snaffle bridle. I liked the way those horses turned out in their mouths, and it seemed like a better system for the horse.

                            That said, most people do just fine starting right out in a bit. The last 3 horses I've started I did with the hackamore/bridle combo and moved up to using the bit only when they've been light and easy off the hackamore rein. These 3 horses are very light in the mouth, the way that I like them. And when I'm feeling lazy, I don't have to worry about getting on them with a halter and lead ropes

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