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This is just a short post – I wrote a longer one on a different topic, then decided I needed some pictures for it before I publish – so I wrote this one to keep everyone entertained in the meantime! I just got a new yearling (coming two-year old) in on the farm to be backed and we did our first training session today so I was musing about youngsters all day. Those that have owned or handled young horses know they require a little extra patience. Young horses have short attention spans, and they do not stay as focused. When working with youngsters I have found that it is most beneficial to do short sessions often. Also incorporate a lot of positive reinforcement and fun in the training to keep the young horse interested. A bored baby will look for trouble (usually in the form of gremlins lurking outside the arena so he can spook and run around). Also keep in mind that young horses are more likely to be different day to day. One day they are tired and lazy and the next they are ready for a thrill ride. The key to training a young horse is consistent repetition and patience – they may forget what you did in the last session and need to repeat the training process a few more times before it really sticks in their developing brain. Youngsters often do not have the respect for personal space that on older horse does because they have not yet been taught that they cannot run into you to initiate play as they do with their field mates, or that you do not appreciate when they turn around to reciprocate the grooming process. Appropriate corrections and firmness when needed will keep the baby in line. I love working with young horses because they are curious, eager to learn, and do not have the developed bad habits of older horses. Keep your sense of humor, and they are a lot of fun!


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6 Responses

  1. This is where I am! My guy is 9 months old and barely halter trained! I will be picking him up in a few weeks! Is it best to get started right away? Or give him a few days to settle in and adjust to his new surroundings? I want to expose him to anything and everything, new sights and sounds! I’m not a new rider, but I am quite rusty, so I feel new! I have never had one this young, the last horse I had was 3 and ready to start breaking to ride! This little guy has a few years yet and I want to establish a good strong healthy relationship with him before I attempt to get on his back! Any tips or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi Jen, I would get started with him right away, but just do simple things… spend time with him, touch him all over, get him investigating all kinds of stuff such as tarps or umbrellas, sprays, blankets, etc. Teach him how to have good manners around food, and how to walk forward and back up following the pressure from a halter. Just keep sessions short and “light”, think of it as playing with him instead of formal training!

  2. If I do 15min sessions 4 times a day what would I work on in each session? All of the same thing or a different lesson each time?

    1. Breanna, I would say it depends on how the horse is progressing with what you are working on! Changing it up can definitely help the horse from becoming bored during your sessions 🙂

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

  3. Hi,
    I live in Japan and bought a 3 years old mare. I went to England last week for riding lessons. When I showed a video of my horse being ridden by a trainer, English instructors said, “She is just a baby! Too early to ride for training. It will destroy her!” In England, they won’t start riding till horses are 4 – 4.5 years old. My Japanese instructor says they can be ridden for a light training up to cantering when they are 2 years old. What is your recommendation? Also, my English friends said, “Don’t use side reins. They are cruel for young horses.” She is a mixture of many breeds, Appaloosa, Perchellon, Trotter, Haflinger and Half blood whatever it means.

    1. Chiemi, I would recommend giving her some more time to grow! If there is no rush, then waiting until she is closer to 4 will only prevent her from having problems in the future.

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

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