16 Mar Training a Young Horse as a Young Rider
With Chloe Gee
Young rider Chloe Gee has been bringing on her young horse ‘Wish’ and learning a lot in the process! In this blog post she talks about the 3 big things she’s learned as a young rider training a young horse for the first time.
Bringing on a green horse is an inevitable part of many rider’s journey. Personally, for me, it was one of those things that I was going to have to do sooner or later. I don’t know many people who love taking young horses out for the first few times, or overcoming that grey area between being ridden at home and being ridden off the property.
I am by no means an expert (my most recent fall explains that one quite well), I’m simply a young rider who wants to try her hand at a blank canvas. And to start off with, I was pretty nervous as I didn’t know the first place to begin with a young horse, as it’s completely different to training your competition horses.
So here are 3 things that I’ve learned along my young horse journey as a young rider:
- Build a relationship with your horse
- Spend time doing groundwork
- Create a support network
1. Build a relationship with your horse
Building a relationship with your horse is super important in those early stages. Getting to know your horse in a calm environment is the best way to figure out what they like and don’t like. Putting a halter on and standing with your horse in the paddock and just patting him for a while can develop a stronger connection than you first think. You’ll figure out things like where he likes to be scratched, whether he likes his ears being touched (this can be a good indication of some issues that could arise later) and your horse’s general attitude towards you.
I know when I spend some time with my young horse, he especially likes scratches on the sides of his nose just above his muzzle. A weird place, right? He also likes wither scratches, like many horses, which is what I chose to use as his reward when he did something good.
2. Spend time doing groundwork
Spend time doing lots of ground work and making everything ‘not scary’. When horses are young, it’s the perfect opportunity and a great time to practice their ground work whilst you have the time and aren’t worried about ridden training. It’s also the perfect opportunity to lay a chaff bag or a tarp on the ground and get the horse to walk over it, make everything ‘not scary’.
Extra hint; it’s a great time to pop up an umbrella and do some desensitisation with them. For one, they love it because its interesting, and two, they learn that things aren’t always out to get them.
2. Create a support network
Create a support network of people that can help and encourage you. I think this is the most important one! I talk very closely with my coach about anything I might want to know. Maybe I’ve got a small problem arise and I don’t know how to approach it; rather than trying to fix the problem the wrong ways, I would rather ask someone trust for some advice. That person is usually my coach. Having a coach that can support you and encourage you is a massive part of bringing young horses on in the right ways.
You don’t actually have to do it ALL by yourself. Not only is it more likely to give you a better outcome, but it also can help with your confidence knowing you’re doing the right thing.
Young horses can be very tricky, and very grounding (sometimes literally). But I’ve come to learn that the trick is to ask for help if you’re struggling and have a plan of where you want your young horse to be in a few years’ time.
Everyone always talks about how rewarding bringing on your own horse is; but you never really understand it until you give it a go yourself!