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Thread: Starting the young horse

  1. #1
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    Default Starting the young horse

    Bit of an advice/how did you do it thread really.

    Humbug is 2 years old. I think a late 2, as in June/July foal. But we don't know for sure as he was a rescue.
    I was going to bit him once we got him, so I could ride and lead off Forest with a bit more control.

    But he still has very small teeth so I have decided to wait until after winter.

    I'm happy to start long lining him of head collar at some point, when hes more confident out inhand, then I will progress to long reining of his head collar, but still following Forest, just so he gets used to aids etc.

    My plan was to back in late summer next year and then turn him away for the winter and bring him back in in spring (when he would be coming up 4)
    All of this will only be happening if hes ready at each stage, obviously he won't be forced to do something he doesn't understand.

    So does that sounds like a good plan? I'm very worried about rushing him as he hasn't had the best start and I don't want him to miss out on being a baby.
    RIP Forest,always in my heart.I can never forget the times we had together. Run free.I'll see you again one day

  2. #2
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    I wouldn't make any set plans and see how he develops, he may be ok to back at 3 and turn away for the winter or he may be still physically and emotionally not ready by then
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clava View Post
    I wouldn't make any set plans and see how he develops, he may be ok to back at 3 and turn away for the winter or he may be still physically and emotionally not ready by then
    Thats why I said if hes ready.
    I have no set plans, more just outlines. Ideally thats what I would like, but doesn't mean that it will happen.

    Biting wise I'm completely lost. I'm worried as he still has an immature mouth and I didn't want to damage it. But will biting him do any damage? I was going to hold of until next spring just incase.

    It was purely just so I could ride and lead with more control, but I think he should be fine in a headcollar, will test in the field first
    RIP Forest,always in my heart.I can never forget the times we had together. Run free.I'll see you again one day

  4. #4
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    I tend to use a nylon in hand bit to mouth with as I'd use that to lead with in the ring in hand. Then when bringing them on a stage I move to a full cheek french link.

    Personally I'd not even think about backing him for another 12 months at least.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jobi-Wan Kenobi View Post
    I tend to use a nylon in hand bit to mouth with as I'd use that to lead with in the ring in hand. Then when bringing them on a stage I move to a full cheek french link.

    Personally I'd not even think about backing him for another 12 months at least.
    Thanks, thats the type of bit I was thinking of, or one with keys on.

    I wasn't thinking of starting backing until late next summer, so August/September time.
    RIP Forest,always in my heart.I can never forget the times we had together. Run free.I'll see you again one day

  6. #6

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    Will follow this thread very closely as Malachy is about the same age, he is about 2 now.
    As to bitting, maybe get a dentist to check him,
    Malachy was checked a few weeks ago and the dentist said he will need his wolf teeth removed as one is blind and will be a bit sore, she said to get her to check him again in the spring to see how they were doing, and prob' get them removed, as he would not like a bit in his mouth with them like that.
    Ps your Forest looks well now.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blues Mum View Post
    Will follow this thread very closely as Malachy is about the same age, he is about 2 now.
    As to bitting, maybe get a dentist to check him,
    Malachy was checked a few weeks ago and the dentist said he will need his wolf teeth removed as one is blind and will be a bit sore, she said to get her to check him again in the spring to see how they were doing, and prob' get them removed, as he would not like a bit in his mouth with them like that.
    Ps your Forest looks well now.
    Thanks, dentist will be out before biting as both horses will be looked at and Forest will probably need a little bit of work done like usual.

    Thanks, Forest is much better since living out, and being at a decent yard
    RIP Forest,always in my heart.I can never forget the times we had together. Run free.I'll see you again one day

  8. #8
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    I wouldnt have thought biting him would be a good idea, after all you could draw blood and it wouldnt taste very nice. It would also be animal cruelty. But bitting him would be fine

    (Sorry, couldnt help it )

  9. #9
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    When I was planning to bit River, I did a lot of reading up about mouths and spoke to my EDT a great deal. I started off with a rubber straight bar and she had a couple of short sessions using it, but then I had a conversation with a lady at a bit bank who suggested I was probably better off starting as I meant to go on, as trying to move on to a metal bit might then be like having to re-bit her all over again. She put it much better than that but that was the idea. I can't remember if it's Neue Schule or Myler, but one of their websites had a brilliant little book that you could download that was all about mouths, teeth and bits and it really helped me get my head around it all. In the end, I bought her a Myler comfort bit, and she actually took to it much better than the rubber bit. My EDT guided me on what shapes and styles of bit would suit the size and shape of her mouth, and this particular bit seemed to suit everything I was after.

    We began River by playing in the school and OH taking her out for walks in-hand. We only really did a small amount here and there - we had no hard and fast number of times per week she would have "pre-school sessions" or length of time, we just took each day as it came and when she started to seem to be getting bored, we'd wrap the session up before she got sick of it. She's been taught voice aids, being touched all over and wearing rugs, etc, from being tiny, so everything has really just built on that foundation, so we had no trouble when we've put boots and bandages on her to get her used to the idea, as she's so used to having her legs touched, tickled and lifted. When we started teaching her not to fear rugs, we began with a saddle cloth, then a towel and then rugs, so we used this as an introduction to desensitisation and have put all sorts on her back, from carrier bags to laying leadropes across her. This meant that when we wanted to start introducing the idea of long-reining, putting the roller on her wasn't an issue at all - she was happy for pretty much anything to go on her back, and is used to being tickled and touched all round the girth area, so it didn't even get a raised eyebrow. For her, the first few sessions were not really any different from the walks she was used to - she was led her from her headcollar, while wearing the roller and a saddle cloth, with someone behind with the long-reins. It sounds like we did more with her than we actually did, but we really did no more last summer/autumn than a handful of quite short sessions, both in the school and around the yard, and gradually moved from having someone lead from her head, to walking at her head with the leadrope over her neck, to working only from the long-reins.

    Everything you do comes back to the same basic foundations: understanding voice aids, good halter training and being completely happy to be touched, stroked and tickled everywhere. The first time I ever lunged her a couple of months ago, you wouldn't know that she hadn't been doing it her whole life - she understood the rein, she knew all the voice aids and immediately caught on to what I was asking for. We've not progressed out of walk and halt transitions yet, but I'm confident that once we move that up a level, she'll have no difficulty with it.

    When I bought her, I imagined that the first time I sat on her would be this amazing fireworks Disney moment. In actual fact, it was "just another day" (although it was still pretty damn amazing ). But since she was a gangly little foal, we've been getting her accustomed to the idea that one day, someone would sit on her. I used to bounce up and down on my toes while I was grooming her so that the idea of me making strange movements beside her wouldn't bother. I used to lean my arms across her back to scratch and tickle the other side and get her used to the sensation of something hanging down her sides. As soon as she was taller than me, I began leading her up to a mounting block while I groomed her or plaited her mane so that she didn't freak out at the idea of me being above her. The first time I sat on her was actually during one of these grooming sessions earlier this year. She was very relaxed and content, and I'd had a couple of attempts in previous sessions of resting one calf lightly across her withers which didn't phase her at all. On this particular day, I sent my sharer for my hat, rested my calf on her back for a few moments and just slid across. No stress, no real fireworks-moment, a chorus of angels didn't descend from the clouds like I'd always imagined but I was sitting on her and she honestly couldn't have cared less! We've now progressed to sitting on while fully tacked up and have started doing a little bit of walking on around the field, but again it's all very relaxed and not on any kind of schedule, just now and again.

    I don't know how much you've done with Humbug as yet, so apologies if I'm covering things he already knows and understands, but the first things need to be those solid foundations. Can you touch him and brush him over every inch? Is he happy to have strange objects, like sponges, handfuls of straw, towels, etc, rubbed over him? Is he happy to have his feet picked up and his legs touched all over? Is he happy with the idea that you might want to look in his mouth and touch his lips? (that one actually took River quite a while as she seemed convinced I was going to worm her ) What about his ears? What's he like to lead? - does he understand about personal space, walking on, halting and backing up? In my mind all these things are the root of "starting" a horse, and pretty much everything you do to him from here on in will be grounded in all of these things. Nothing needs to involve a long and taxing session, or more than a few "games" a week, or even every couple of weeks.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with the loose plan you've got in place - I had a similar one with River, with the caveat that if at any point she wasn't physically or psychologically ready for anything, we'd take a step back and rebuild her comfort zone before attempting to move on again. In my plan, I had intended that this year we'd focus on ground work, with a few sessions of sitting on and getting a couple of basic aids under her belt, which is what we're doing now. And even that's not really done on a regular schedule - maybe once a week we'll have a good ground work session, and once we'll have a sitting-on session, but some weeks she does nothing except get fussed She'll have the winter off with Sal, and in the spring we'll probably start having a few lessons and start thinking about working for muscle and suppleness and trot transitions - I'm hoping she might be ready for a walk-trot dressage test next autumn when she'll be four and a half, but if she's not, it's no big deal - we'll try the following year.

    From what you've said about him, I think I'd spend the remainder of the year building and refining his basics and having in-hand walks with walk-halt and walk-trot transitions thrown in, and if you have access to some, you could have a go at leading over and around poles as well. When the dentist sees him, have a chat about his mouth and what sort of bit would suit the shape, see if he has any wolf teeth that need removing and if you and the dentist think he's ready, start bitting him in the new year. You've then got spring and summer to work on long-reining and preparing for backing (i.e. long-reining in a saddle, getting him used to standing at a mounting block, etc), and then you can decide late summer/early autumn if he's ready to take that next step. If he's not, push it back a few months and reassess.

    Good luck and don't forget all important pictures of his progress
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  10. #10
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    Just do it the French way Wait til they're 3(ish) - then bit them, back them, hack them out on the roads straight away, and voila!

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