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What are you guys doing with your baby horses?

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  • What are you guys doing with your baby horses?

    My new guy is a coming 4yo (April baby) in 2018. It’s been a long time since I’ve had one this young, and even then it was a TB so a completely different kind.

    He had 60 days under saddle in the summer and then mostly sat until I bought him in November. He seems to do best with 4-5 days a week working schedule, but I also want to give him grace and time to grow into himself. Right now we focus on simple rides (straightness and steering), easy wins, and desensitization. He gets really excited around other horses, so that is a key.

    This was his first time cantering in our outdoor.


    So...what are you guys doing with your babies? How much do they work? What is a typical ride or schedule like?

    I want to bring him up the “right” way and ideas and thoughts on exercises and challenges would be awesome.
    My adventures as a working rider


  • #2
    He looks lovely! I like his canter. Who is he by/out of?

    as far as how much work it seems to depend on the horse and the breed.. a coming 4 y/o TB I would not bat an eye at having a full work schedule, a coming 4 y/o WB, well, it really depends on their family, their body type, and their temperament. I find most really enjoy a consistent schedule but it can be tricky to balance what is good work and what is too much especially since I do firmly believe that most WBs mature a little slower. It's important not to be too repetitive in the work, both because of physical complications and mental ones. They're young and they don't have a base of fitness that older horses or TBs come with and in light of that I do prefer to keep the work light.

    If he were mine, I'd be keeping the ring work very light until he is 4. I think the best thing for a young horse is lots of slow hacking mileage, ponying, and some traveling - trailer to a local park or some other low key thing, have a nice hack, and go home.. I did a lot of that with my TB when he was young and he was so old-hat about shows because of it.. he would fall asleep tied to the trailer if you let him. The hacking is important because it gives them a base line of condition that is not overly stressful to their growing bodies, and it also gives them a chance to become a bit more worldly. There isn't much I enjoy riding less than a youngish horse that has grown up in the sandbox.
    "i'm a slow learner, it's true."


    • #3
      We got mine at 4 and he worked 5 days a week although he got trail rides weather permitting. Not too many rigid expectations and trying to give him confidence and positive experiences. Now that he's 5 he's having to be more mindful, but still slow and correct.


      • Original Poster

        Originally posted by halt View Post
        He looks lovely! I like his canter. Who is he by/out of?
        By Orleandro, Damsire Lynx. Bred to be an eventer, clearly not that!

        Thanks for the suggestions. We have quite a few trails around the property and hills to do. But I'm not brave enough to get too far out of the sandbox quite yet. He's big, and dumb, and young and big. He's not super spooky but I don't trust him fully yet. Very very very quiet, but I had some bad falls last year and have some hangover from them.
        My adventures as a working rider



        • #5
          I am going to chime in on the trail riding, with the caveat that you use a western saddle and don’t go alone. It is so good for their brains and bodies!
          Trinity Farm LLC
          Quality hunters and jumpers at Midwest prices
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          • #6
            I have a coming 5 yr old in April, thoroughbred who was very physically immature and was growing at a rapid rate. She had a year off after the track to grow and gain weight. I restarted her in June.

            a typical ride for us is focusing on the basics. If she cannot walk nicely we don't trot, if she cannot trot nicely we do not canter. I would rather her have a good solid foundation. We focus on straightness, control of pace, bending, flexing, stretching and transitions. May add in trot poles here and there.
            As for a schedule, she works hard 2-3 times a week. 1-2 rides soft stretching rides or go for a long hack. Workouts are usually 45mins to 1 hour.


            • #7
              Most of the 3yos I work get out 4ish days a week and we primarily focus on w/t/c with basic emphasis on forward, straight, rhythm, contact, etc as well as learning the "how to function in arena society" things. IE working in company, oncoming traffic from other horses, hacking around people jumping, don't spook at the children shrieking from the aisle, etc. I use my trotting fitness time with the babies to go around and around to desensitize them to those sorts of basics. I also start introducing increasingly more difficult concepts - poles, walk-canter transitions, transitions within gaits, half halts, baby leg yields, etc. Little jumps if baby is ready.

              My 4yos get a heavier workload with far bigger expectations. 4-5 days a week w/t/c working in the bridle (the best they can for their training and fitness) with some engagement, cleanish transitions within and between gaits, correct leads, introducing or already confirmed changes, basic lateral work is taught although may still be very green, jumping weekly at whatever level is appropriate. Later in the year I generally expect them to be fairly solid jumping around 2'6.

              I have a 3.5yo right now with the equivalent of about 60 days u/s and we're w/t/c with decent contact and a solid foundation to working in the bridle. Just introduced walk-canter transitions to him this week. Did some Xs for fun a couple weeks ago and will be doing more pole work and itty bitty jump stuff the rest of this year. But he gets 15ish minute hacks with lotssss of trotting on quarterlines, circles, serpentines, figure 8s, in company with other horses, and a handful of canter transitions both directions with expectations for correct leads. I keep it slow and steady but he's a smart one so I always try to introduce something new each ride, even it's super basic. Keeps his brain humming along.


              • #8
                My new guy has been off the track for a week and a half. He is so laid back and relaxed it’s been interesting to see how he handles new things. So far lunging, long lining, and ground work has been easy. I haven’t gotten on him yet to take things slow but since he is so tall and lanky it’s going to be a lot of walking and finding a rhythm under trot. My arena is tiny so I don’t think we will approach real canter work until either I can find a place to haul out or in the spring when I can work in the pasture. I want fitness and soundness to be the most important thing as I just had a very unfortunate experience with my mare who I could never quite get sound.
                Dark Side of the Moon
                2010 Thoroughbred mare


                • #9
                  I recently bought a 3 year old Canadian warmblood. He's been backed. I am not going to do anything with him until Spring. He is still such a baby, I want to give him time to grow up a bit. He goes out all day with 2 other geldings and is in at night.


                  • #10
                    I have a 3 coming 4 in March who I am giving off for the next few months. She was broke in April, I rode her through November 4 days a week, but decided as of December 1 to give her some down time. I will do ground work with her so she doesn't come completely unruly, but have decided to give her some time off from riding. I also live in NJ though, so she would be stuck just going around the indoor which I think would be super touch on a young horse.


                    • #11
                      I have a four and a half year old 18hh han. G. He is wonderful but gets bored doing basic flatwork indoor so we add a few jumps for interest. He loves it. Then followed with a short trail or walk through the fields. Bee on a couple of field trips for lessons/schooling at shows and even showed once in 2'6. He loves to be ridden to I try to do a little with him under saddle 5 or 6 days per week. No soundness problems and the jumping is a cinch for him.


                      • #12
                        My boy is coming 5 this spring, and last year he had the winter off to grow. But over the late summer/fall, we worked on w/t/c, being forward, steering, just the basics. This yr we worked on basic dressage and started some low fences. It's been fun!n listen to him and do what he is ready for.



                        • #13
                          My Anglo/Trakhner had 60 days this summer. I've trail ridden her with a friend a couple of times to get her out and about. She's a June foal, and a keeper so no hurry. Wonderful brain. My trainer says she does "Mia spooks" at new stuff. She stops and looks and then moves on. Perfect for her old ammy Mom. She's even been in the water jump at Barrington. Just followed the other horse right in.


                          • #14
                            I second halt 's comments about a lot of low key hacking. It's been a focus of mine with young horses, whether WBs or TBs off the track. A couple months of almost nothing but hacking (proper hacking aka trail riding, not flatting in a ring) puts a solid fitness foundation on, exposes them to a lot, keeps things varied, and helps them grow mentally. Then when you're ready to start more ring work, you get more done because they're fitter and can hang with the training better.

                            I just bought a 3 year old TB (not race trained) who will be 4 in April. He's already W/T/C in the ring and out, previous owner took him to some baby XC schoolings and a 2'3" jumper show, he's pretty worldly already and clearly is already on the right track with jumping. It's my plan to get him home, let him settle, and then spend the next couple of weeks just hacking around the farm. I am debating giving him the rest of the winter off to grow up a little more (and just doing groundwork), or keep up the hacking/light flatwork in the ring until March and getting back into a full training schedule (with jumping) then. We'll see.
                            War Horse Blog
                            Blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse


                            • #15
                              Tobler is a 2014 BLM mustang from Oregon, presumably born sometime in May. Fairly large as mustangs go, about 15 hands. Built something like an old-school Morgan. He was in the Fort Worth EMM (shown as “Cinch”) so was picked up from holding June 1 and trained fairly intensely (most of the intensity being the mental rather than the physical) until the show in mid September. Since I’ve gotten him (through the auction at the competition), me and the professional who works with him 3-4 days a week have mostly been working on basic flat work, particularly accepting bit contact and helping understand that “it’s OK to be nice and forward, but not *rushy* forward, now that you are an English horse.” He was trained and competed Western, but his trainer wasn’t able to get a super-slow jog or lope on him in that time frame along with all the other great basics she gave him. Probably why he didn’t make the top ten, which is fine by me! A little bit of trot poles, cavaletti, and teensy-bitsy crossrails. Hacking over the property. I’ve been trying hard to consciously monitor and work on all those niggly little habits and behaviors that make such a difference in how pleasant it is to be around a horse. Standing quietly when mounted. Not barging through gates. Not assuming he can put his head down and graze any old time you are leading him and stop someplace there’s something edible. Leading at the speed the handler is walking/jogging, whatever that may be. Also working on carrot stretches. Interestingly, the first step in that was getting him to accept carrots as treats!


                              • #16
                                Mine is an actual baby, so I’m doing nothing but watching her grow and the occasional walk around the farm!


                                • #17
                                  I have a 2 coming 3 that I am not really doing anything with. She has had a saddle on a few times and has longed a few times. And worked on trailering. I am going to send her off to be started to a woman who will take her time and then trail ride her a ton. That way she gets the exposure without me having to do it! I feel your pain, I just don’t have the nerve to be the guinea pig now I have kids. That is Ok, though. I am giving myself permission to let others do that part without guilt.


                                  • #18
                                    My baby is a July 2015 so not quite 2.5 and really growthy. She went to the trainer’s two months ago and is doing light walk trot ground driving ~3days a week. She’s a keeper so we will wait and let her tell us when she’s ready to start - probably next summer or fall.


                                    • #19
                                      Mine is 3, will be 4 in May. Last raced the beginning of September, and I got her the end of that month. Due to work and the arena being used by school kids, we've only had 2 rides so far. The indoor is a bit too small to canter, so just W/T. Big circles, half halts, responsive off my leg, (not staring into the mirrors at her pretty face, lol.)
                                      We've hand walked all around the back fields, through water, over wooden bridges, up and down the baby XC steps, and are totally dog desensitized.

                                      I can't afford to buy a saddle that fits her anytime soon, so I will probably focus on all of ground work stuff, cross-tie manners, farrier skills, getting hooves in good shape, etc. this winter. Hunting season is almost over, so if the weather cooperates, and I can find a trail buddy, we will definitely be hacking out!
                                      "On the back of a horse I felt whole, complete, connected to that vital place in the center of me...and the chaos within me found balance."


                                      • #20
                                        Hmmm....the forums seem to have eaten my post. Looks like maybe it was unapproved? Well, if it shows up as a duplicate, my apologies!

                                        I have a 3-coming-4 baby Holsteiner mare.

                                        My typical plan is to put 90 days on them the summer of their 3yo year and then give them the rest of the winter off. But this year I broke my ribs in May and definitely wasn't feeling up to the task of backing a baby while I was in rib recovery mode! So this one didn't get started until October. So I think that I'm going to keep her in a program through the winter and straight through the spring at which point I'll start getting her ready for the 4yo young jumper classes.

                                        I would like to say that I'm super conscientious and regimented about her work, and ride her 3-4 days a week. But in reality, daylight savings time (or the end of it?) has absolutely killed my great consistent program. She's the bottom priority of the 7 I need to get ridden each day, so she often is the one with whom I run out of light and opt out of riding (figure it doesn't "hurt" the baby to NOT get a ride more often than the alternative). So the more accurate schedule is that she gets ridden for 2-3 days and then gets 2(ish) weeks off before I find time to do another few days. I would imagine that we'll continue like this until February timeframe.

                                        As for what we do.....I started her trotting little jumps on ride 2 or 3. But mostly we work on "forward and straight." She’s a bit of a tantrum haver about the bit, so I lunge her in side reins for about 5 minutes (sometimes just one or two revolutions each way) before I get on.

                                        I have videos that I’ll attach via edit since I think that’s why my post wasn’t approved the first time.
                                        One of her first rides: https://youtu.be/9hvvN6Vt3w4
                                        First jump: https://youtu.be/mjmaA29u9Nw
                                        The following week: https://youtu.be/Aj8AJkDg3Ps
                                        Last edited by PNWjumper; Dec. 10, 2017, 10:52 PM.
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