Schooling A Young Horse

02 Feb

Schooling a young horse can at times be stressful for both you and your young prospect. I’ve seen it countless times where people have bought one that’s just a little too green for them, but they still bring it home with hopes and dreams as big as the Olympics. Even if your horse is incredibly good minded, there’s still several things you need to watch out for when schooling a young horse.

Safety When Schooling A Young Horse

Safety is the thing you need to keep at the forefront of your mind when you start to handle any horse, especially one that’s young. They’re going to be a lot more reactive to things than Old Faithful, and you need to be prepared. Even though they don’t look cool, I always wear a helmet when breaking my colts. My logic is that if something was to happen, at least I would be protected and increase my chances of staying full function! I know I should wear one EVERY time I ride, but I at least make a point to strap it down when on a greenie.

Set Yourself Up For Success

The second thing is you need to set yourself up for success and do your homework prior to just jumping on and riding off. On ones that have been in the barn for a while or are just plain green or new to riding, I always longe them before even thinking about mounting up to let them get the woolies out prior to me being on their back. I would much rather one jump and kick and play on the end of a line than with me on their back! Speaking of the line, I always put a longeline on my young ones, even in the roundpen. I want to be able to discipline them or stop a bad behavior when it starts, and I can’t do that unless I can have ahold of them. The other piece of setting up for success is to know both yours and your horses limits. I set a goal every time I ride, and base that goal on what happened the day before. If it’s one that I’ve never worked with before, I ask a little at a time to see how far the colt wants to go. I consider the day a success when the horse has learned something new. Just like you wouldn’t ask a five-year-old to solve algebra problems, you shouldn’t expect your two-year-old colt to start spinning, sliding, or cutting a cow the first time you ask.

Schooling A Young Horse

Be Prepared When Schooling A Young Horse

I’m going to end this article by telling you to BE PREPARED. Schooling a young horse is not like going for a trail ride on your twenty-year-old gelding. They WILL jump at things, not understand when you ask things of them, spook, get mad, and a whole lot of other not so fun things. If you’re at a show trying to ride, make sure you give yourself plenty of room so you don’t jump into someone else, especially if you’re in the show pen. Be firm but fair with your young one though and they’ll develop and give you all they have for years to come!

Schooling a Young Horse

Heidi Cook
Trainer, Cook Arena

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