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Starting a horse and making mistakes

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  • impressive_gunner92
    started a topic Starting a horse and making mistakes

    Starting a horse and making mistakes

    Hi all. I'm having a dilemma and needed to get some advice from people that know some stuff or just have some words of encouragement.

    Last night I finalized the lease on my new show project. He's gorgeous, huge, and a very fast learner. His owner wants me to have a fun time with him (as my show mare had to retire because of navicular) and she doesn't care what I do with him or what type of shows we do. She had hip and knee surgery and can barely work with him anymore. It's a wonderful situation but I'm already facing problems

    I've had lots of experience with green horses, but he's the first horse I've ever truly started on my own. He had some days put on him 7 years ago. I'm not worried about the training, I'm worried about the mistakes I've already made.

    I bridled him too quickly last night (just head stall and bit for lunging) and he got nervous. I corrected the problem but it still was upsetting for me.

    Is it normal to make mistakes as a "trainer?" Am I going to ruin this horse before he even gets a start?

    Before anyone says anything about a professional/trainer I'm not in the position to make that happen right now

  • TheHunterKid90
    replied
    We can all be keyboard warriors and sit on our couches and judge you but I will just say this...

    Something that I remind all my staff, customers etc is that each and every time you come into contact with a horse, you are either training or untraining him.
    If the staff cleans his stall and let's him bite, they are teaching him ill manners....if he bites and they correct him and maybe tie him while they muck his stall, they are teaching him what is acceptable and what is not and also keeping themselves safe by restraining him.
    A world renowned and accomplished trainer once told me that in order for us to teach a horse and for it to become habit we must teach him correctly and consistently 300 times in a row...if we mess up and are inconsistent, then the 300 starts over.
    Another thought to ponder is that a horse doesn't learn when you're pulling on him, he learns when you quit pulling....broken down, I mean that horses learn from the release of pressure...that pressure may be physical, mental or a combination of both.
    If you have access to a round pen or a roundish pen, take full advantage of it and take your time....forget about the physical calendar when training a horse and concentrate on the horses internal clock.

    Leave a comment:


  • WildLittleWren
    replied
    Originally posted by Silver Silence View Post
    Why not learn some invaluable ground work exercises and at least do that... if you're just looking to occupy your time with horses (plus you will be teaching yourself in the process). I'm assuming the horse isn't dangerous to handle or completely wild, so I don't see any reason you can't at least learn some good ground work if you have SOME decent experience.

    It takes a long time to get good with timing, finesse and a good feel on the rope. You'll learn and teach without having to be in the saddle. Watch some Warwick videos and learn those exercises (I think he even offers a month free trial, not 100% sure though).

    I've been riding for 23 years, and I'm just now feeling fairly confident that I can offer training on other peoples horses. I was the kid who would get on anyone's horse, no matter what, and finesse my way to making it look like an easy ride. I was often asked to ride other peoples horses.

    When I discovered Warwick some 6+ years ago I went back to the basics. This foundation stuff is so so important. Before I could fluff my way through by "riding through it" like all the rest of the english riding kids... now I can give horses the tools to cope, and have them fully understand what I'm asking, by not asking too much too soon. I still can't get enough of it, and if you truly care about the horses best interests, this stuff will not be boring and monotonous.

    Save up a bit of money in the meantime - when this horse is ace at all the ground work stuff you can throw at him, call up your old trainer and have her come evaluate the situation.

    Good luck!
    OP this is very good advice. If the horse is reasonably safe to handle on the ground, and you are just looking to spend time with a horse, learning all the proper groundwork basics is a good place to start, and will make you a better horse person.

    Do trainers make mistakes? Yes. But the more you have worked with green or unstartwd horses, the less mistakes there will be made, and when a mistake is made, they know how to correct it. Training takes tons of time, even more patience, and flexibility. Flexibility is important because horses do not learn on "our" time line and each one is different. Proper timing and feel take experience and a knowledgeable eye on the ground to correct you in real time as mistakes are being made.

    Good luck OP with whatever you decide.

    Leave a comment:


  • Foxtrot's
    replied
    I'm not one to make judgements on posts like this - but there is one thing good trainers have that puts them apart. They
    are mindful - meaning totally focussed on the horse and not outside distractions (excuses). It is hard to do, but you can spot it when you see it.

    Quietness, calmness, and patience without imparting any of the trainer's possible anxiety. Horses know.

    Leave a comment:


  • Manni01
    replied
    I would like to add another thing to this thread... IMO an important aspect.

    Let's say you do lease this horse and let's say you are sucessful with starting him. And let's say you fall in love with him and he is doing well.

    What is going to happen then? Now the owner has a sellable horse. Before it was worth close to nothing and now it's a nice riding horse..

    Think about this and talk to the owner what will happen after you restarted the horse.
    In most cases the owner sells the horse and the rider is unhappy.

    Leave a comment:


  • Silver Silence
    replied
    Why not learn some invaluable ground work exercises and at least do that... if you're just looking to occupy your time with horses (plus you will be teaching yourself in the process). I'm assuming the horse isn't dangerous to handle or completely wild, so I don't see any reason you can't at least learn some good ground work if you have SOME decent experience.

    It takes a long time to get good with timing, finesse and a good feel on the rope. You'll learn and teach without having to be in the saddle. Watch some Warwick videos and learn those exercises (I think he even offers a month free trial, not 100% sure though).

    I've been riding for 23 years, and I'm just now feeling fairly confident that I can offer training on other peoples horses. I was the kid who would get on anyone's horse, no matter what, and finesse my way to making it look like an easy ride. I was often asked to ride other peoples horses.

    When I discovered Warwick some 6+ years ago I went back to the basics. This foundation stuff is so so important. Before I could fluff my way through by "riding through it" like all the rest of the english riding kids... now I can give horses the tools to cope, and have them fully understand what I'm asking, by not asking too much too soon. I still can't get enough of it, and if you truly care about the horses best interests, this stuff will not be boring and monotonous.

    Save up a bit of money in the meantime - when this horse is ace at all the ground work stuff you can throw at him, call up your old trainer and have her come evaluate the situation.

    Good luck!

    Leave a comment:


  • Foxtrot's
    replied
    The answers to the OP are typically all over the map.

    All trainers had to start somewhere - each horse gets better and better as the trainer's experience grows. Patience, gentleness will take you further - Never rough up a horse, show anger or be in a rush.

    The horse sounds like he may have quarter horse in him (by your screen name?). Hopefully a quiet nature.

    When riding, do not ride alone and take normal precautions. Get help when you can get it from someone you can believe in....

    I think that a thoughtful person with can start their horse and not ruin it.

    But I'll not stick my neck out on that since we don't know you and cannot judge from the internet posts. It does take work, though, and regularity, and consistency. Takes time to build trust.

    Leave a comment:


  • Bogie
    replied
    Originally posted by impressive_gunner92 View Post
    I just wanted to thank everyone for the wonderful replies! I've gotten some very conflicting views and I'm taking each one to heart. I'm going to reach out to my family friend and old trainer (who im still in contact with but cannot afford) and see what she thinks based off my riding ability
    Good idea. Being a nice rider is not the only component here. You need to have a program and a plan. You need to know what steps come next and what to do when something doesn't work.

    The first time I got a horse off the track he was just turning 3. I hired my trainer to work with me 2x/week for the first month, and 1x/week going forward so that I had a very clear idea of how to proceed. She had a ton of experience restarting OTTBs. This horse had actually been started by someone who had done a great job with the basics and was easier than I'd expected, but going forward I had a much better idea of how to proceed.

    When I was a teen I might have thought I could do it myself . Of course, that was before I'd ever had a serious injury or come up against a situation with a horse I couldn't handle.

    Will you ruin a horse by making training mistakes? Maybe. One of my horses came to me with severe issues after his teen aged owner rode him in draw reins. It took me a very long time to fix the problems she caused. But the other factor is whether or not YOU are safe. Obviously, we can't see this horse or evaluate whether he is nervous, stubborn or a good egg. Don't get hurt trying to train someone else's horse. It's not worth it.

    Leave a comment:


  • xeroxchick
    replied
    You might find this book helpful: "Know Better to Do Better: Mistakes I Made With Horses" by Denny Emmerson. I just ordered it last week, used. IDK, sounds like a good book and it might be helpful

    Leave a comment:


  • Emily&Jake
    replied
    Riding green horses is a lot different than starting horses from the ground up.
    I agree with many others here - I'd decline to continue working with the horse further. Instead, grab a bunch of training books, watch a ton of training videos, and learn how to start young horses before you take on another project. You'll have a much better understanding of what to do for each step and each problem that arises.

    Leave a comment:


  • SuzieQNutter
    replied
    Yes we all make mistakes.

    Some of us are still here with brain, body and limbs still intact. Some have brain injuries that have changed their personalities. Some have lost fingers and toes. Some can no longer walk.

    The saying is that you wreck the first horse.That is because every horse you work with should be starting with a better rider than your last horse did.

    Start this horse as you would breaking a horse in. I recommend John Chatterton's 10 commandments. He should be doing all of them before you attempt to get on.

    Things like coming when you call, standing still while you groom, tack and leave him, touching all over, leading with and without a halter. That is the first 4. There are another 6 to go before you hop on.

    Leave a comment:


  • Scribbler
    replied
    Some people are also good at training and reading a horses cues and body language, and others are not.

    At this point you should be doing everything you can think of in ground work and in hand and longing in a rope halter (not side reins). All the basics to make sure you have good manners and voice commands just like if he was a baby.

    After several weeks or a month of doing this *every day* then you start leaning over his back at the mounting block while a responsible sensible person holds his head. Then you longe him in a saddle several days in a row until you know it doesn't bother him.

    Then you get him with reins on your halter and have responsible person lead you a few steps, get off. Rinse repeat until responsible person is effectively longing you.

    Through this period you can start introducing a simple snaffle. You can have it on under the halter. Eventually when horse feels calm you graduate to trot on the lead line and the off the lead line and using bit.

    Keep in mind horse may or may not know rein cues stop and turn, or leg means go. You will need to teach this.

    right now Im the responsible ground crew for my coach restarting an OTTB. It's not rocket since but it takes going slow and not being greedy.

    It also requires having basic confidence.

    You will need responsible ground help for backing. That means someone who is good enough at handling horses and is level headed, doesn't giggle, get distracted, or push you to take risks. And obeys your instructions. It could be another teen, if they have horse sense. It shouldn't be a non horse parent that will squeal and dither and give you bad advice.

    Leave a comment:


  • MsM
    replied
    If you are still considering working with this horse, I would first get more information from the owner. What training did he have exactly? Why was it cut short those 7 year ago? Any unsoundness? Has anything been done with him at all since then? Why not? What veterinary care has he had recently - especially hoof care and teeth? (And who will pay for this going forward?)

    It may seem nosey, but you really need to know where this horse has been to figure out how to move forward.(Or if you want to) It is quite unusual for a horse to sit around for that long doing nothing, especially if the owner doesn't have a big field to throw him out in.

    You also need to decide if the time and baby steps this horse likely needs are what you want to do. It may be "free" but it will require a lot from you. Can it work? Possibly. Can you and/or the horse be worse off for you attempting this without help? Very possibly.

    A lot also depends upon the horse himself. We have all seen backyard horses started roughly by ignorant people and yet they turn out to be tolerant saints. Some horses seem "born broke" and can withstand a lot. Others will react badly very quickly and it will turn into a dangerous mess.

    Be careful.

    Leave a comment:


  • NoMoneyBecauseHorse
    replied
    I really appreciate your willingness to try something new and expand your skill set. And, I'm sure you are a very lovely rider. But whether you are a good (or great!) rider isn't what this horse needs. This horse needs a trainer. Trainers and riders are two very different skill sets. Even trainers have trainers! Even the very super experienced ones. Another factor to consider is time. I'm NOT A TRAINER, but I would bet that this sort of horse needs lots of repetition and practice on everything, i.e. he needs to be worked six days a week. Do you honestly have time for that? I infer from your statement regarding college that you are in high school. Please be cautious, and ask yourself, is this in the horse's best interest?

    Now, with that said, is there some reason you can't work for a trainer for x many hours, in exchange for a training lesson with your horse? If you did that weekly and then practiced what you learned over the course of the week, that MIGHT, MIGHT be okay depending on the horse's needs.

    Leave a comment:


  • TheMoo
    replied
    Originally posted by impressive_gunner92 View Post

    The situation is weird and hard to explain. I'm paying nothing for this horse. The owner has seen me ride my boy and offered to let me work/free lease her horse to have something done with him. I told her point blank that I've only ever ridden green horses under the guidance of past trainers. Im inexperienced but willing to read and learn and read some more. I'm going to talk to my old trainer and See if she thinks I could handle this and if not, I'll end the "lease"
    Do yourself and the horse a favor and end it. There is nothing hard to explain. You are way too inexperienced to do this without a trainer.

    Leave a comment:


  • impressive_gunner92
    replied
    Originally posted by TheMoo View Post

    I love this post. I personally, would be a bit more understanding of the situation if this was the OPs horse. It is not hers though.

    I'd bet my pay check she exaggerated her experience to the owner. For me age isn't the issue. I started my first horse in high school. I made mistakes, but I also had a tremendous amount of coaching. The issue is a kid who thinks they have more experience then they do, and now a horse (that doesn't belong to her to boot) will suffer.
    The situation is weird and hard to explain. I'm paying nothing for this horse. The owner has seen me ride my boy and offered to let me work/free lease her horse to have something done with him. I told her point blank that I've only ever ridden green horses under the guidance of past trainers. Im inexperienced but willing to read and learn and read some more. I'm going to talk to my old trainer and See if she thinks I could handle this and if not, I'll end the "lease"

    Leave a comment:


  • TheMoo
    replied
    Originally posted by 2DogsFarm View Post

    ^
    FULL STOP!

    "when I go to college"

    With the added info that you are a teenager I suggest you forget working with this horse & find something to lease that is already started & working U/S. For your level of "expertise" this is not a safe situation.
    If you cannot afford a Pro's help, you cannot afford to lease this horse.

    Surgeries aside, I now also wonder WTFruitbat the owner is thinking to consider leasing an inexperienced teen this horse.
    Has she had these surgeries ongoing for the last 7years? Why is nobody working the horse in all that time?

    And you keep shillyshallying back & forth on this thread about you will, you won't be leasing...
    NO, just NO.
    Now I am advocating for the horse as well as thinking you are going to get hurt working off of your non-skills to try & ride this horse. Horse does not need you experimenting with learning to start a horse & you do not need to throw away lease $$ on one that is unsuited to your skill level.
    I love this post. I personally, would be a bit more understanding of the situation if this was the OPs horse. It is not hers though.

    I'd bet my pay check she exaggerated her experience to the owner. For me age isn't the issue. I started my first horse in high school. I made mistakes, but I also had a tremendous amount of coaching. The issue is a kid who thinks they have more experience then they do, and now a horse (that doesn't belong to her to boot) will suffer.

    Leave a comment:


  • NancyM
    replied
    Before you put a bridle on any horse you are attempting to train, make sure that any points on his teeth have been removed by and adequate equine dentist or vet. Make sure the bridle is set loose, so it goes on easy, then adjust to correct fitting. Before attempting to bridle a horse in training, he must have basic preparation in his training, move from pressure, respond adequately to commands, listen to you, respond to you. Ground work. Leading, lunging at w/t/c/whoa. When you have all this done, a bridle would be the next step. Once he is working in a bridle, you need to examine how he likes the bit you have chosen, he needs to be happy in it, and comfortable. It's an individual thing, you can't tell in advance which bit he will find the best for him, straight bar, single jointed, double jointed, and type of material for the mouthpiece. Choose wrong, and don't pay attention to this, and you will create more problems for yourself and your horse. Then a saddle or surcingle. Side reins are highly over rated, especially at this stage, and to be avoided IMO, but you will get some argument over this. Long lining (ground driving) will come along next, to make sure he understands going forward from cues on his sides, steering and brakes, and the human behind him. Then backing.

    So yes, you have already made some mistakes, and got ahead of yourself. No wonder the horse may have become upset or tense. Learn what you want to accomplish before going out there and getting busy. Have the steps figured out beforehand. If you don't know the steps, the order of the steps required, how is the horse going to learn correctly?

    I don't know and can't say if you will be successful with this project, or if you and/or the horse is going to survive. Everyone has their first one, and everyone has to learn, if they are going to train green horses. I'm not discouraging you. But I am encouraging you to educate yourself before carrying on with this plan. If the horse was correctly broke and trained years ago, even just to green stages of riding, he will remember and be cooperative. It's not all new to him, just rusty.

    Good luck.

    Leave a comment:


  • ChasseurSauteur
    replied
    You might find The $900 Facebook Pony blog to be instructive and perhaps eye-opening. The author (also a COTH poster) has a coming two-year old, so not the same situation as you obviously, but she is supremely methodical about how she is starting her gelding and introducing him to the various life experiences that will eventually make him a good equine citizen. As someone who has never started one from scratch, I was blown away by how much time, effort, and experience is required to really start one well - and we're talking an impressionable baby, not a mature horse who has been sitting in a field for some years.

    Leave a comment:


  • impressive_gunner92
    replied
    I just wanted to thank everyone for the wonderful replies! I've gotten some very conflicting views and I'm taking each one to heart. I'm going to reach out to my family friend and old trainer (who im still in contact with but cannot afford) and see what she thinks based off my riding ability

    Leave a comment:

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