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The first horse is a dream fulfilled. Perhaps as a child you longed for a pony of your own but it was never a reality. But now, years later, you have a horse to call your own. Maybe you’ve just started looking for your special horse and are eagerly awaiting the day you bring them home.

Whether you are brand new to horse ownership or even making the transition to a different horse, bringing a new horse home is scary. How will they settle in, what’s the best way to get to know them, can you ride right away or should you wait?

In today’s video, I will share several simple tips for helping your new horse get settled, knowing when you should start riding, and building a positive relationship with them right from the start!

If you want to learn more about the process of purchasing a horse, from where to look to pre-purchase exams, you can Click Here to download a Free Copy of my book.



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29 Responses

  1. It’s reassuring to see this video. I asked a lot of questions before buying my new horse. I was seeking a calm, friendly horse. But I moved her to a busy public stable and she is quite activated by all the other horses and people around. Despite being involved in competitions and other events with her previous owners. I am only her second owner since leaving her breeder. She is a lovely horse with a fantastic personality but I’m not really riding her yet because of her reactivess. A number of people at the stable have said they would ride right away. But I think i am doing the right thing doing groundwork until she is better able to focus. I am a fairly new rider in my 50s and have no desire to hit the ground!

  2. Wonderful advice. When I got my Lipi 13 years ago, he was recently gelded, needing farrier attention, some of his handling had been rough and quick, very oral and bossy boy. The first day Chunky was unfocused and insecure. Not his first outing, had been recently shipped to another stable to be broke to drivee (did not go well & was subsequently returned), been to some schooling shows. His dislike of the new surrounding was intense, visceral, not so thrilled with me either. Grooming illustrated physical and mental sore spots, the next day my farrier came out to pull his shoes, wish I could have taken more time before doing this, had no choice as his hooves were dangerously in need of trimming, Chunky bit, kicked, struck out – not at all settled. Not writing this up to scare but to second Callie’s advice, take the time it takes to allow them to settle in becoming familiar with you and their new home. Do not be discouraged if your “newbie” is nothing like the horse you tested out but see it from his point of view, you are a stranger, new surroundings are unfamiliar, very stressful (we are the same way when we move), he is looking for comfort, something to be familiar, to understand. You are the answer, spend your time observing, interacting, don’t take the frustrations personally, be calm and stable, let them figure out their place in the new herd. Take time to patiently modify undesirable behavior, teach them what is allowed and what is not, be unemotional about it, direct and matter of fact. Will remind myself of this as we are moving to a new facility in 6 weeks and although I am a known commodity, everything else will not be – reminding myself now to take the time, be patient, there will be some drama, I will try not to cause or inflame it. There is a saying in a TV ad “change is hard, keep an open mind. ” Good luck to all new horse owners!!!

  3. Callie this is my favoured video.I am realy hoping everyone who is hoping to get a Horse or just got one will take your course.the points your making are soo important yet for some reason are most often skipped or overlooked as none important.thank you soo much for the work you are doing .much love Magdalena

  4. Hi Callie,
    Thank you for your guidance. You are an excellent teacher. I purchased a 6 year old Tennessee Walker last March so have not had him a year yet. I live in northern Wisconsin so have not ridden him since last fall. We have had more snow this year than I’ve experienced in the 11 years I’ve been here. Who knows when we will be able to ride again this spring. We do not have an indoor arena but do have an excellent outdoor one at the boarding facility. Since Buddy is young, and new to me, I have done all the things you talked about in your video. I’m looking forward to getting back out with him to begin ground work again. I already know he needs more work with: water crossings, standing at the mounting block, becoming comfortable with clippers, and getting a vertical headset when he goes into his gait. It’s daunting when I think about it after owning a 20 something year old Missouri Fox Trotter that knew it
    If you don’t mind, I’d like your opinion on the mounting block. He is 16 HH so I have a three step mounting block. I can lead him up parallel to the block no problem. He stands perfectly still. I never rush him and let him stand there about 10 seconds rubbing his neck and telling him good boy. He stays perfectly still. As soon as I gently put one foot on the first step, he very slowly takes two steps back. Now he allows me to come to the top of the block with him standing with the stirrup just behind my foot. He stands there perfectly still. I get down and back him up at this point. . . sometimes fast, depending on how long we have been doing this exercise. There have been many times where he wins. I’m so frustrated I have to quit before I say or do something that would not be good for Buddy. Help. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. It seems like this was taking too long and I don’t want to go through all this again this spring. Do you have any good insight in to what’s going on and advice on how I get Buddy to stand still while I mount? By the way, I have no problem riding him up parrellel to the block and dismounting while he stands perfectly still through the dismount, walk down the steps and standing next to him on the ground. . . not a move.
    Thank you Callie,
    Katy Moore
    Sturgeon Bay, WI

    1. Hi Katy,
      Don’t know if this would help or not. A year ago I was riding one of the lesson horses in our barn when my horse was lame. I would get this horse all lined up at the mounting block and when I stepped on the mounting block, he moved his hind quarters to the right away from the block, far enough that I could not get on him. This went on for an half hour until I got smart. I stood him up against the side of the indoor arena with the mounting block and me on the other side, thereby blocking him from swinging his hind quarters to the right. I wonder if your horse could be positioned with the arena wall behind him to keep him from backing up while you are trying to mount. That way there would be something solid behind the horse, but nothing that would hurt he horse. Just a thought.

      1. Carole,
        Sorry but that technique is nothing but a temporary fix. I need my horse to know that he must stand still at the block out in the open. I’m a trail rider and this is imparitive. I have heard many people talk about their horse swinging their hind quarts away from the block. This is not my challenge. My horse is very smart and knows if he takes two, slow steps back it will put my foot just in front of the saddle.

        1. Katy, it can be a way to shape the standing still at the mounting block and gives support until he understands how he should stand at the block!

          -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  5. Thank you for sharing your expertise, Callie. I have completed your “understanding your horse” course and read extensively, your work and many others. I am an older rider who started riding about 9 years ago, learning on my daughter’s American Saddlebred. I recently purchased my second horse, a 14 yo Morgan gelding. The owner had him since he was a 1 year old, training him into a successful show horse. She told me she decided to retire him from showing and did not want to put him into the lesson program. He was advertised as the perfect first horse, sweet, easy to manage, and the perfect trail horse. On both visits to her stable, the rides were ‘perfect’ and he appeared just what I was looking for. Walk, trot, canter all easy and comfortable, both inside the arena and the outside ring. Others at the stable commented on his laid-back nature and easy style. I loved him already. Vet check was positive on all accounts.
    Fast forward 3 weeks when I brought him home. It was like they sent a completely different horse. At first, I spent a lot of time just being with him, walking him around the arena and outside around the property, and then started to lunge him. Or rather, he walked me. He was reactive to everything, strong willed and pushy, bucking and rearing when lunging. I chalked it up to the new environment sure he would settle in soon. After much reading and watching videos, I started doing ground work with him, not an exercise I have ever done before. My hope is to gain respect from him and get him to trust me. Some days he is very responsive, and I start to feel better about his manners and respect. Other days it falls apart again, he goes back to leaning into me or pulling ahead when walking about, bucking and rearing when being lunged. After about 10 days I started to ride him and realized in the first 5 minutes I needed help. I engaged the trainer and started lessons. I contacted the previous owner about tack and bits she used and we started with that. When he wasn’t dancing around because of a noise or actions of another horse in the ring, riding was okay, but not at all like the practice rides I had. He is a very well-trained horse and it was obvious he had a routine and had a predictable workout several times a week. He had a difficult time deviating from that routine. Even cutting across the ring to change direction was foreign to him. Lessons were okay but we couldn’t seem to get the right combination of tack for adequate control. I completely trust the trainer, she had decades of experience and is known nationally for her methods. She suggested having one of her advanced students ride a couple of times a week with her to help figure out his style and needs. I was okay with that because I could not visit more than 3-4 times a week due to work schedule.
    It has now been 3 months since I brought him home. Riding continues to be a challenge. I have difficulty controlling his speed and head set. I still cannot canter. He bucks and dances and when I do get him to go forward, after half around the arena he would pull his head down and charge ahead. Again, it just is not the type of ride I had when trying him out.
    I am so discouraged and feel like I have made a big mistake.

    1. Bette, I am sorry to hear about your frustrations – it can be so discouraging to not be able to do the things we want to do. The first place I would start is has his management changed? Different turnout situation, perhaps he is getting less time outside? Has he had any feed changes? I know you mentioned equipment, has the saddle fit been checked?

      I think you have taken some great steps to move forward and keep yourself safe with getting help from the trainer and advanced riders. Were the practice rides you did on him at his old home?

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

    2. I feel for you. My horse isn’t quite the same as when I tried her either, but I have realized its only her second home since she left the breeder and its a completely different environment with a completely new owner.

      I think your horse will settle down eventually. Think about a year from now, but gradually getting better as you go along.

      I used to lease a very quiet horse and she was totally freaked out for 6 months at least after being moved. And still touchy after a year.

      I’m moving my horse again – to a quieter place – but now expect it to be at least a year before I will take her trails. I’m taking a long term view. The best horses where I am now have been there for years and years, with the same owner.

  6. Hi Katy,
    glad to hear I’m not the only one with a mounting block issue! They sure do test you.
    I have tried a few different moves. One is leaning over their back and offering a treat, thus bending the head, and keeping them more focused on the treat, while I get on. Another is to move them from side to side – ground work hind quarter yields every time they step back (this was when I got really annoyed and it worked a treat), also of course just tapping them forward and rewarding, and taking my foot out of the stirrup b4 they stepped back, many times so that standing there wasn’t an absolute that I WAS going to get on….Lots of praise & scratches when they do the right thing!!! Best of luck, it’s a long and interesting road!!!

    1. Robyn,
      Thank you for your reply. Are you a trainer at Callie’s facility?
      I am not a fan of giving treats. The horse becomes obsessed with my hand and pocket where the treat comes from and becomes totally distracted. . . Losses focus on the task at hand and isn’t listening to me. Plus, Buddy is a tall horse. In order for me to just put my foot in the stirrup or lean over the saddle, I need to be able to get to the top of the mounting block. He takes two steps back before I can get to the third step. No can do.

      1. Hi Katy,
        no I’m not a trainer, just another student. Love Callies stuff.
        I practice lots of patience and rubs for relaxation preparing for the mount, breaking things down into little chunks, if the horse starts thinking about going back, I go back first….

      2. Hi Katy! Callie often will use food rewards as a positive reinforcement for working on standing still at the mounting block!

        -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

      3. Hi Katy and all-
        I consider mounting and dismounting the MOST DANGEROUS times of any ride…not that I haven’t been tossed off, lost balance or all sorts of things-during a ride-but we all know how badly it can go when we are not in the saddle-with the reins in hand, and our feet in the stirrups.
        So-that said-EVERY horse I’ve ever owned-never got ridden till they stood still at the mounting whatever…rock, trailer side, pickup tail gait, picnic table…my foot never gets into the stirrup till they are quiet, focused, standing square enough to handle my mounting…and then they are never allowed to get going till I’m ready..and they ALWAYS get lots of loving-I never waiver on this-and often get a treat-to which I tap on their neck twice to tell them they can look back for it. Ground work. Lots of ground work. I also have had my young daughter or another quiet and calm youngster get off and on and off and on and off the off side and on the off side etc etc etc. The relative “hotness” of a horse should have nothing to do with this-though a hot horse will take a bit longer to convince sometimes.
        This all comes from leading quietly, standing quietly for grooming and tacking (though I do have an oldster who does tend to shift quite a bit for some of this-and always has-but he stands like a rock for mounting!!!), and not being able to make the first decision as to when or where or how to step out. Aside from Callie-there are really good u-tube videos of Warwick Schiller that address this.
        If they start moving around when they have previously been quiet-I start right away looking for saddle fit or pad shifting issues, sore muscles or just an off day.

    2. I had a horse that would move while attempting to mount from the block. Dangerous. Everytime he moves I make him move his feet and run around the block. First time , I lost several pounds. But I am adamant about him not moving. Now if he moves I make him go around the mounting block. Make sure he is squared up when you mount because if not then he has to move to get his balance. Once he is standing still, I wait at first a minute and then I increase the time. I personally do not let anyone assist me because my horse needs to learn to stand still. I also make him stand still once I am on at least 2 minutes. If he moves after I am on, I get off and remount. Soon my horse stopped. To much work for him. LOL

  7. What a timely post. I have been leasing for the last five years. My current horse went lame last October and is still lame. The vet comes Monday to evaluate him and I’m anxiously awaiting her verdict. I’m feeling as though this may be the end of our partnership. While I hate to let go of my senior gentleman, I am already beginning to think I would like to make the move from leasing to purchasing my own horse. I’ve read your book, Buying Your First Horse: The Guide to Finding Your Dream Horse. I’ve already spoken with my riding instructor about my intentions, about the possibility of full board at her stable, about the age and temperament of the horse I’m looking for, and that I know it will take some time to find the right horse. Your video today is a good guide for me to use when I finally do bring my horse to the boarding stable, reminding me to go easy for the first few weeks until my new horse and I get acquainted. The information in your book about purchasing a horse is wonderful and a good guide as I begin the purchasing process. I particularly appreciated the outline of how a sale may occur and the fees associated with the sale when working with a trainer or two. That was valuable information. Thank you.

  8. I have just purchased a new racking horse. I would love to pet him and etc. But my old horse won’t hardly let him near me. I need to watch and make sure my new horse gets enough to eat. My new horse was not a pet with his previous owner. He does not eat treats. Also, he has one front tooth missing. He will rubs his lips in water at least every 2 minutes then eat hay and then rub his lips in water and then eat hay. I have not ever seen a horse do this. I have so many questions about this new horse. What is normal and what I need to pay attention to. Callie I love your videos and they have assisted me in so many ways. He has been at my farm about 24 hours. How long will it take for him to settle in?

    1. Joann, I would definitely give him some more time to settle in! Each horse is different so I can’t say exactly how long it’ll take your new horse specifically – give him at least a few days then re-evaluate 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  9. Callie,
    At the end of your video you asked for a memorable moment when starting with your own horse(s). I am 51 and never owned, leased, or boarded a horse before. My horses were being trailered from AK to PA and the day they were due to arrive on our farm I waited, and waited, and waited. The trailer driver kept texting me saying they were delayed. The happy expectant afternoon slid in to an anxious evening, then a nervous night, then a panicked late night. The trailer finally arrived at a pitch black 3am and could not make the turn down our driveway! I will never ever forget my emotions while hand walking them down our very long drive to our barn, in the sheer darkness, thinking what on earth have I gotten myself in to. Turns out a lot of hard work…but much greater joy!

    1. Wow, that sounds like a very high stress situation – glad everyone was okay!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  10. Hi, I’m from the UK and came across your videos whilst researching the hot horse. I’ve had my horse 3 months. He doesn’t stand still whilst I’m getting on, instantly walks off, rushes trot and thinks leg on means faster. Out in the forest he’s very forward, not relaxed and always looking for an excuse to spook. Water being one of those excuses. He’s now started to bolt which isn’t any fun even worse on a 18hh Irish Draught!! I feel I’ve rushed him too much so I’m going to take on board the instruction you give in your videos and take him back to basics. I look forward to reading through all your information and watching your blogs.

    1. Hi Helen, going back to the basics can be a really great plan for getting started with your new horse! Since you brought him home has his management changed? Does he get a different kind of food? Does he get less turnout?

      Have you had your saddle fit evaluated? That might be a contributing cause for the mounting block issues!

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  11. Hi, Callie and company

    I’ve recently purchased a horse, my first, and I imagine my last, at 60, but who knows? She’s just 11, was broke to ride before settling into a herd of brood mares and their babies, which is where I met her almost 7 years ago when she was just a few months into her first pregnancy, and I a few months into horsemanship. I learned the very basics of groundwork, spent many hours with her herd then a few others over the years as a house and animal sitter. I’ve no expectations for us except to cultivate a dynamic relationship. New diagnosis of chronic laminitis has us paused and is giving us all the time we need to connect. She’s got a great mind, soft yet alert responses, engaging. What games can I play with her, to give me practice in rewards and release of pressure, while minimizing impact on her still very sore front feet? (Softrides are on the way). I have so so so appreciated your blog and videos. I’m not sure how you/they got into my awareness, but I am so grateful. My life resonates sweetly with your methods and rationale. Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Connie, I’m sorry to hear about her sore feet! There are so many things you can do! Is there a place available to you to take her for walks? Working on some positive reinforcement work can be another way to work together, as well as some liberty and connection work!

      – Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  12. Hi Callie,
    I’m hoping after Sat I will be getting my very 1st horse at the rip age off 44. I met him last week hes a big boy standing at 16h. He hasn’t been worked in over 6months he does need some strength exercises but I’m sure my trainer will give US some. I do plan on just sitting with him and seeing how he acts. Hes a gentle gaint that you can see he trys soooo hard. Hes a 16yr draft cross what good exercises can we do together to build up his rear quarters? I plan on going threw the balance rider course again with him just hoping all goes well Sat and the vet check turns out nothing wrong just work outs 🙂

    1. Hi John, there are great exercises to help you in Week 3 of the Balanced Riding Course to help develop him on the ground! That is so exciting 🙂

      -Julia, CRK Training Community Manager

      1. Hi Julia and Callie,
        I might not be getting him 🙁 due to the route of all problems in life money but when I do I will be going threw that course and hopefully send some videos to Callie.

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