Training young horses can be a great challenge at times. However, the satisfaction a rider takes when their young one starts bring results can be priceless!
The first rule when training young horses is TIME! Don’t try running before you can walk. Take things step by step and make sure your commands are clear. If your young one does not understand, then repeat the exercise. If that still does not work after the third time, you have two choices:
- Take a step back. Either try an easier version of the exercise you are attempting to teach your horse, or take it down a gate. If in canter take it to trot, while if already in trot take it to walk.
- Try something different. Use a different command, or simply differentiate your command. Not all horses perceive the same commands in the same way. You will need to modify your riding according to your ride.
It is important not to get frustrated when things don’t happen as quick as we would like them to, either we think it is the horses or our own fault. Plus, guess what? It is never the horse’s fault!
Riders sometimes want results faster than they should. The industry urges young horse to be jumping and winning 1.35 classes by the age of 7. I suppose that works well for horse dealers who are interested in selling their horses in the highest possible prize while they are still young.
However, what happens when it is your own horses and you are interested in long term results? Here is where you should think smart and not allow yourself to get overwhelmed by the potential of your young horse.
Work your show jumper hard on flatwork! Make it a point that you teach your young one a new exercise every second week. Good flatwork will make your horse stronger and hence give it the ability to become a better jumper. With time the rideability in the ring will get better while flatwork also creates a better connection between horse and rider.
When that connection is established and your young horse is starting to feel confident in the ring, then you are ready to take it up a class and start jumping bigger tracks.
Just a piece of advise. Don’t be in a rush! What goes up fast comes back down even faster. At the end of the day it is smarter to take a little longer to go higher than having to back down from something you and your horse were not ready to deal with! Anyone can produce a good young horse if they have the right tools!
Share your own experience with us! It is always a pleasure!