The Basics when Working a Young or Green Horse

The Basics when Working a Young or Green Horse

The Basics when Working a Young or Green Horse

The Basics when Working a Young or Green Horse

The opportunity to work with a young or green horse comes with great responsibility. You have the potential to place a lasting imprint on this horses riding career; and his opinion of being ridden in general.

In order to produce a well rounded riding horse, there are a few basic principles that you should pay attention to. Things that, when your horse understands and develops in each element, will lay a solid foundation for him going forwards.

1. Forwardness

It seems so basic that it is not even worth mentioning, however you would be surprised how many riders fail to develop this simple yet absolutely vital principle in their young horse from the beginning.

So often I see riders on young horses and they are just not going anywhere. They may be physically moving forward, but really, there is no energy there. No ‘sense of purpose’.

Forwardness is not just physical; as in moving. It is also mental. The ability to think forward is vital to your horses successful development.

Riding a horse who has to be reminded to move forward every . single . stride . is exhausting. Having to continuously encourage your horse to show up is not ideal. However, when your horse learns how to ‘think forward’, the whole feeling of the ride changes.

2. Relaxation

When working with a young or green horse, relaxation is so important to begin establishing early in their training. I feel that there are two different types of relaxation when it comes to working with a young or green horse.

The first is how we think about relaxation ourselves. We are ‘chilled’. There is no anxiety present. He is ‘carefree’ regarding what he is doing. This can often seem to cause issues when we work on being relaxed while moving forwards.

With horses, there is always a balance that needs to be found. In this case it is the balance between moving forwards and also remaining relaxed.

The second is relaxation that forms part of the actual training scale. A better name for this type of relaxation is ‘tension management. Excess tension does not have to show up as anxiety. It often shows up in the horses back. Almost like a stiffness.

Your job is to make sure that as the horse is moving forwards, the tension is being managed. Especially through the horses back, in order to connect the energy from back to front.

3. Rhythm

All horses have a natural rhythm. The true aim of the game when it comes to riding is for your horse to display his ‘natural rhythm’ with us on his back, while remaining in perfect balance. No easy feat!

Becoming aware of the rhythm is the key to helping your young horse develop his natural rhythm while you are in the saddle.

A great way to do this is by correctly lunging your horse. It allows him to begin really ‘working’, but also learning how to balance himself; without a rider to worry about as well.

Your horse has to develop. This will take time, as all development does. It is important to allow your horse the time he needs to develop correctly. In doing so, he will become more confident in his abilities.

I believe that rhythm and confidence are related. As confidence grows, the rhythm becomes stronger, or less fragile.

4. Suppleness

Many riders think that suppleness is all about doing carrot stretches with horses. I don’t. Yes, stretching helps, that is without a doubt. However, suppleness is more about your horses ability to use his body while his body is moving. It is an active ability. As opposed to a stationary one.

Obviously, suppleness is a physical aspect of your horses development. However, suppleness is also a mental element.

It is the ability to shift and change mentally to the challenges as they present themselves. To remain confident when working through a challenge. Being able to course correct in order to move forwards again.

5. Contact

Contact is where things really begin to get serious when training a green horse. This is the first part of the journey where you ask the horse to take some responsibility.

Contact is almost like an unwritten agreement between horse & rider that you are both willing to show up. You are ready and committed to participating and contributing to the conversation.

In order for true contact to be present, all of the other elements must be developed to varying degrees first. It is the culmination of the other training elements. Unfortunately many riders try to establishing a contact too soon with their young or green horse.

Allowing Your Green Horse Time

Time is the final element that must be considered when training or working with a young horse. The horse needs time to develop, both physically, mentally and emotionally.

Following a loose training program consistently over time will produce a solid young horse who someone will enjoy for years to come.

Happy Riding


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