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Young horses can be more or less difficult than an older, trained horse depending on how you look at it, and depending on the quality of the training of the older horse.


What I mean by this is that young horses have fresh minds – for the most part they are unspoiled by bad training, and they probably haven’t developed negative associations to people or riding, or picked up bad habits that may be annoying or even dangerous. In this way, young horses can be much easier to work with because you don’t have to change as many behaviors, you just need to teach them new ones.

On the other hand, young horses have had less interaction, so they are generally not as good at generalizing and figuring out what you want them to do as an older horse who has had, for example, many riders who all give slightly different cues. The older horse has probably learned what people generally want from him and can better offer the right answers, where a young horse may offer all kinds of different behaviors.

With a young horse, I have found I need to be very clear and specific in what I want them to do, and also not get frustrated if they don’t get it. There are a few keys to working with a young horse that I like to keep in mind, and today I thought I would share them with you.

To hear what these three keys are and how to apply them, take a few minutes to watch the video below. Leave a comment with your thoughts or tips for young horses.

See you in the comments,



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12 Responses

  1. Another really nice presentation of the essentials to keep our horse safe and build his confidence with the crazy things we humans expect a horse to do.

  2. I love the way your clips feature all kinds of horses. Most English style trainers will only show TBs and western style trainers will exclusively go for quarter horses . I was on the phone with an instructor the other day and she told me that the lightest horse in her latest clinic was… a Comtois (a French draught horse).

    1. Hi Francoise, I do get a lot of different types of horses here at the farm – it makes riding more fun and interesting! Every breed has its strong points!

  3. “Assuming the horse doesn’t understand rather than that it’s bad behavior.” This is such an important key and there are too many trainers that don’t really subscribe to this. As an older rider, I have bad behavior etched into my brain and I am trying to erase it! There are no bad horses! (repeat over and over!) Everything goes better when I stay neutral and try to fine tune my requests. Thanks again, Callie.

  4. Very nice thank you. You mention turning exercise. I have a new horse who is 12 and she was never taught that. Do you have something that can help me teach her?

    1. Hi Rita, I am not sure I understand exactly what you mean by turning exercise – with a young or green horse I will often start teaching them to steer using simple figures like circles, figure eights and serpentines. Teaching steering is like many other things, I turn my body and apply a light pressure by opening with the steering rein and release it when the horse moves in that direction. Creating the figure becomes a series of little pressure, then release, pressure then release. Does this answer your question?

  5. Thanks Callie! Once again you’ve provided insightful information. I recently bought an 8 year old mare and while she is eager to learn, there are many times when it’s a struggle to maintain her focus and I feel she’s testing me. In light of this post, I can see that I need to try and work with her in as much of a distraction-free environment as possible and understand that I may not be providing clear enough cues for her to know what’s expected of her. Less about me and more about her!!

  6. Spot on advice. Safety and pacing training so important. Easy to overwhelm the horses..not to mention the riders! Learned this the hard way. Much appreciated Callie!

  7. Awesome advice Callie! I love when you said to assume that the horse does not understand what we want not that it’s being naughty. It is very easy to forget that! Love your videos!

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