Pushing or taking your time with the young horse?

LincsLady22

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So I have a young horse. I hear conflicting views on whether you should take your time with them and really solidify the foundations, building the horse’s confidence and your bond with each other steadily along the way; then people who say the young horse needs pushing and that it’s good to take them out and about to lots of new places and let them see the world as much as possible. What are everyone’s thoughts on this and why? Is there any difference between horses who start going on outings lots as 4yr olds vs lots for the first time as 8yr olds? Or pushing them mentally (not necessarily physically) as a youngster, vs taking it calm and confidence building and waiting for the more mentally taxing jobs until they’re a bit older?
 

spacefaer

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Depends on the horse! Some cope with new experiences, some need to take their time to process new things.
Not a very helpful answer I'm afraid!

I tend to take my young horses to stuff and I've never had one not cope, but it may just be I've been lucky with their temperaments!
 

GinaGeo

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Depends, and I think there’s a middle ground.

I don’t think it does them any good to not see anything until they’re older.

I like to get mine hacking with a good lead horse ASAP. You feel their confidence growing with each outing.

My current young horse is only really getting out now. Last year he wasn’t ready physically or mentally. He’s five now. Still full of youthful enthusiasm and sucking everything up like a sponge.

Mostly listen to the individual 😊
 
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TheMule

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You have to be guided by the individual horse to a certain extent but yes, I agree that you're going for something in the middle!
I have two 4yr olds. One did 1 quiet outing last Summer at 3 (though still only ridden about 20 times in total, vast majority hacking) and has just gone back to the same place at 4- he will now go somewhere once a fortnight or so because he's really good in his brain and so it's straightforward to him. The other has done much less and I don’t expect her to go anywhere this year cause, although stronger physically than the other, mentally we're a bit more challenging!
 

Carrottom

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I agree it depends on the horse, also what you are confident to deal with. If you are training your horse to be your horse for life you can judge how fast you can both move on comfortably. For me it is better to be a bit slow rather the risk creating problems through pressing on.
 

LincsLady22

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OP what do want your young horse for ?
By that I mean what job do you want him to do .
Just a fun allrounder. Not a competition horse as that’s not really my thing, although a little low level dressage in the future wouldn’t go amiss. Long term goal is mainly hacking, low level dressage, small xc course hires, clinics/lessons etc. But all for fun and low pressure. He is such a sweet horse and has hunted when in Ireland, but gets worried and spooky easily. I’m not the world’s most confident rider either. I have been riding a long time and can step up to the plate when needed for him. But generally I don’t like to put myself in scary situations (hence the not enjoying competing) and would like to take things at a pace we’re both comfortable with. Maybe one clinic a month, is that going really slow? We hack from home every weekend and school and have lessons at home during the week at the mo. I’ve had him 6 months and our first clinic/outing is booked for next month.
 

Orangehorse

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I think it is a good idea to get them going out and about from a very young age. You don't have to do much, but just the loading, travelling, seeing sights and sounds and come back home again. The more you do the less of an issue it becomes for you and the horse. If you keep them at home until they are 8 it is going to be a massive shock for them.

I think one clinic a month is fine, maybe mix up the hacking, go with a friend, or travel out to a new place.
 

ycbm

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If they seem happy I like to get them out and about, it really does appear to help them grow up. But my current six year old seemed to spring another sarcoid every time I took him out at 3 and 4, so he found it stressful even though he didn't show it any other way, so quite a lot of them must do. I have taken him very slowly compared to other young horses.
.
 

sherry90

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I took mine out sporadically as a 4/5/6 YO. He went to one in hand show as a rising 2yo, then did camp as a 4yo (baby camp) and 6yo. I’ve also boxed him a handful of times to off site hacking, fun rides, farm rides and clinics but I’m not even talking once a month really due to transport so it doesn’t always need to be weekly, depends on their temperament.

I think if you hack them, and generally desensitise at home a bit, that helps when they go to unfamiliar places. As mentioned, a lot depends entirely on their temperament. Mine is laid back, but enjoys himself and can be a bit fresher at a new place, but because the basics are right at home (trust and general groundwork) he has always been a gem to take anywhere.

Focus on building a good partnership and then the place won’t matter 🙂
 

RachelFerd

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Taking a horse out and about to see the world isn't the same as 'pushing them' - you could push a horse far too hard at home without ever going anywhere. And equally, you could take your horse out and about every week without ever pushing them - certainly physically but also mentally.

FWIW i've always found horses that have been out and about and seen lots of things are usually easier and less stressy individuals to work with, because they've got used to outings and change being part of their everyday lives.
 

ihatework

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It’s not about pushing them hard versus taking your time, it is far far more nuanced than that. It’s about age and horse appropriate training delivered at the right time. Which will be different for every single horse.
 

Jango

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As long as you're doing lots of hacking alone I wouldn't worry at all. The youngsters I've known who have been a problem have just been endlessly drilled in the arena and then have a meltdown when they are then expected to do something else. If you can hack wherever including boxing up to different places and the horse has to rely on you for guidance they learn to just get on with it. I do a couple of hacks in company then just get off exploring with them, they learn to trust you and you learn to trust them. Just my opinion, some people never hack alone and manage ok!
 

windand rain

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In my opinion and its not set in stone all young horses should go out and about. All should be started in all paces and all should meet obstacles similar to TREC before they are much older than 5. I think well exposed youngsters are easier, keep theit minds engaged and generally makes them much more sensible. BUT and it is a big but if you are not completely confident doing things you shouldn't do them but get a very confident person to do it. Praise comes at the end of the session never or rarely during it if you are constantly reassuring your horse you are telling it there is something to be afraid of. Keep you pulse rate down and I doubt you will have many problems
 

Leandy

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Depends on the horse and what you want it to do. It also depends whether you are also turning away for a spell to give them breaks along the way. The experience of the rider and handler is also very important. Many experienced professionals can bring on a horse faster than an inexperienced amateur who is also finding their way. So it depends what works for your set up, for the temperament and physical maturity of the horse and for what you want it to do. I don't think there is a right or wrong except on an individual basis. One does see a lot of faffing around with younger horses though by inexperienced people who will claim to be taking it slowly for the horses sake but whose inexperience and lack of consistency, progression and ambition is actually counterproductive. Those horses won't end up in the same place as those brought on faster by experienced professionals (not that that necessarily matters, hence what do you want the horse to end up as?). And any concept of needing to take time to "bond" should be ditched speedily. Its an excuse for lack of confidence by the rider. There is no magical time when everything is suddenly easier because you have "bonded". Of course it helps for horse and rider to get to know each other but that doesn't need to delay things.
 

Leandy

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I have always imagined that horses are like people in that they learn best at a young age and it is harder to learn and change your ways as you get older.
 

Leandy

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Just a fun allrounder. Not a competition horse as that’s not really my thing, although a little low level dressage in the future wouldn’t go amiss. Long term goal is mainly hacking, low level dressage, small xc course hires, clinics/lessons etc. But all for fun and low pressure. He is such a sweet horse and has hunted when in Ireland, but gets worried and spooky easily. I’m not the world’s most confident rider either. I have been riding a long time and can step up to the plate when needed for him. But generally I don’t like to put myself in scary situations (hence the not enjoying competing) and would like to take things at a pace we’re both comfortable with. Maybe one clinic a month, is that going really slow? We hack from home every weekend and school and have lessons at home during the week at the mo. I’ve had him 6 months and our first clinic/outing is booked for next month.
Having just read this. Just progress at the pace you are happy with. It isn't a race. It isn't too slow for what you want to do, and you want to achieve.
 

eggs

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In my experience it is best to get a young horse out and about as much as they can easily cope with. It generally makes for a much less stress than taking an older horse out for the first time.

I also agree with Leandy about the whole 'bonding' thing being a bit rubbish. Your horse should take confidence from you because you are confident in what you are asking them to do so progress at a pace that you are happy with.
 

Elf On A Shelf

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I like getting my youngsters (1-3yo) out to a few inhand shows each year, never more than 3 a season, so they can see the sights and sounds and get accustomed to life away from home.

There's no right or wrong time frame to bring a youngster on.
 

windand rain

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The only young horses I have seen thoroughly ruined have been those that have been drilled in walk until it is perfect maybe up to two months of walking only, daily in a school in lots of tie down gadgets. Starting too soon lunging an 18 month old because its going to get too big and strong ditto backing at 2
 

daffy44

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It isnt a case of either or, I think of it more like socialising a puppy, its about making a good citizen, a horse (or dog) who is easy to take out and will be sensible in different scenarios.

I have a four yr old who was backed a couple of months ago, and he went out for his first arena hire a couple of weeks ago, I dont consider that to be pushing him, but more about giving him life experience. He went on the lorry for 30mins to a local place, I led him round for a few minutes, let him look at everything, then I got on and did the normal, simple walk, trot and canter that he would do on a work day at home, then he came back on the lorry, got home and went straight in the field. This was educational, not stressful, and I will continue to do similar things throughout this year, sometimes an arena hire, sometimes a hack in a different place (he hacks out alone happily at home), sometimes a polework clinic, sometimes a lesson. I think this kind of thing shouldnt be specific to any potential career of the horse, its just making a nice, well rounded individual who becomes a pleasure to do.
 
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