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Discuss Best methods for a rookie at the Horse Training forum - Horse Forums.

So, we all need to start somewhere, right (please no nasty comments about not being ...
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    Best methods for a rookie

    So, we all need to start somewhere, right (please no nasty comments about not being ready, etc, etc)?

    I'm looking for suggestions on training methods, materials, videos, books, etc on training a new horse. I will not be working under direct supervision of a trainer, but I do have 15years experience around horses.
    I decided to purchase a 4 year old WB who has had extensive handling, very sweet natured, very laid back. She lunges, but has not yet had a saddle on. I am generally starting from the ground up.

    Does anyone have a constructive training program geared for 1st time handlers (I hesitate to say "trainer"). This mare will be my future fox hunter.

    Thanks--

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    slc
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    An unbacked 4 year old warmblood isn't the place for a rookie to start.

    If you're very athletic, fearless, relaxed, persistent and patient, and willing to accept instruction, it has a lot better chance of you getting to your goals.

    That said, I can't recommend books or videos for a rookie unless it's to supplement in person instruction rather than replace it - the situation needs a riding instructor/trainer that you see in person and get instruction from frequently.

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    Charisma, do you have any friends who have backed/started their own horses successfully?
    From head to tail the Border Collie is all dog, and pure dog, fashioned by nature and wise men for a useful purpose and thirled to its traditions by the very validity of its ancient and honorable calling.


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    I have no access to friends or family who have started their own. I'm also fairly isolated, and would prefer to not send her out for training. I have contacted some trainers, but they are unwilling or have extortionate travel rates to come to me.

    I'm sorry, but I'm sure there must be others that have been in a similar situation before? Surely there must be some material for the first time horse handler? Alternately, someone else on the forum who broke a horse without the supervision of an expert?

    Obviously, the preference would be to have someone work with me, but in the case that this is not feasible, what is the recommended suggestion? I'm realistic, patient, athletic, fearless, relaxed, and persistent. And clearly open accept instruction, which is why I have asked for material...

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    Surely there is Charisma..Ive been involved in horses for almost 20 years..trained alot of green horses..but never started my own "from the ground up" so to speak until last summer. While I did it all myself, I did have a husband who has gentled many horses and my coach just a phone call away if I ran into a snag..I never got "training", but I used them to bounce ideas off of, so to speak..or get another viewpoint if I ran into an issue....I think you can gentle your own horse..but I know I personally feel more comfortable having a warm body to at least bounce ideas off of then just a book..

    Mike Keivel has a very good book that I refer back to alot..but he is a western trainer...Im sure you might find something you could use in there, but I personally, for you, would be looking for an english type book..

    When I evented..Bruce Davidson had a book.albeit an older book, that covered training the young horse..from backing to competition. Ginny Leng had one has well which was newer.

    This is a hard subject to broach in the way that you are wanting..breaking a horse is not like re-wiring a washing machine, where there is a step by step guide..so much depends on the individual rider, horse, enviroment,ect.
    From head to tail the Border Collie is all dog, and pure dog, fashioned by nature and wise men for a useful purpose and thirled to its traditions by the very validity of its ancient and honorable calling.


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    Charisma, its all about knowing when to stop. Obviously, as you know, getting professional assistance, even if just for A FEW sessions, is better than nothing. I would highly recommend you pay the transportation for a trainer to come out a handful of times at a minimum to ensure your safety. You say you have 15 years experience, but what exactly does that entail? I know people that have been 'around' horses for 20 years, but only dead-broke, schooling horses. Riding a bronc, 4 year old is a bit different. I would assume your skill exceeds this level, but you really need to assess your own abilities. Training an unbroke horse to ride is a difficult task. It can be daunting, can be physically demanding, and will definitely try your patience.

    Ok, now that I've gotten that out of the way.

    Start slow and finish early. Don't stay on one thing too long. Get her to be VERY respectful in hand first. Get her to disengage her hindquarters, side pass, back, pivot on the forehand, etc. in hand before you attempt anything else. Get her to lunge like a dream. Does she lunge with a line? Get her used to a line on her everywhere. Belly, legs, hindquarters, under the tail, etc. She needs to be throughly despooked by these things. Tarps, flags, etc. That way, she will know what these are on the GROUND and is less likely to do anything in saddle.

    As for the saddling, I would introduce the blanket first. Rub it all over her and get her used to it. Assuming you're using English, it won't be so frightening as a heavy, western saddle plunking down. However, if you CAN use a western, I'd recommend it for teaching and safety later on.

    After she is used to the pad, then practice putting the saddle on and off. Rub her with the pad on the belly, under the legs, etc. Practice leading her with the saddle on and your hand on it. No girth yet. Then, when she can walk and feel it flap around a little bit, introduce the girth. Don't tighten it INCREDIBLY tight, just get her used to the pressure. If she balks, let her.

    When she will take the girth pressure, then start sacking her out. Flap anything on the saddle that moves. Do all of your ground exercises with the saddle. Lunge her with the saddle. Get all of her curiousity and confusion out. When you can saddle and unsaddle her without qualm, introduce the bit. I'd suggest a mild bit, either an O-ring (french link) or similar. She might balk at this, but let her. Just slip the bridle on (no reins) and step back and let her figure it out. She'll likely chomp on it and try to spit it out. Just let her. Standing saddled and with the bridle on is a GOOD way to get used to it. I'd say if nothing else, just do this every day and she'll be WAY better off. Just let her stand there and don't put pressure on the bit yet. In the meantime, its best if she knows how to yield to pressure on the halter already to prepare for the bit.

    ... Have to run, I'll finish typing later. This should give you a good start though!

    -- Ok back. So, after you've got the horse used to the bit, you can start getting them to flex. Left and right. First pressure with your thumb or finger, not reins. Then, add reins once she is used to slight pressure. Get her to flex her nose almost to her shoulder. Don't PULL, give pressure and make her move. Once she gives to that pressure, RELEASE. You can try to teach a 'whoa' but it will be difficult on the ground beside her. While you're doing this, to mix it up, get her used to a lunge line on her body. As she should be used to the rope by now, this shouldn't be too much of a leap. Have her used to it getting between her legs, around her belly, etc. Once she is flexing on the bit and she's used to the lunge line, I would start to ground drive. I use two lunge lines (SAME exact ones, otherwise weight will be different) or driving reins are REALLY best. Just depends on what you have available.

    Now, you need to be sure you have control in this situation. If you can get someone to hold her head and lead her at first OR if you can have her in a round pen or enclosed area at first, that is best. Otherwise, this can start to get dangerous. But, I would hope if you are planning on breaking a horse to saddle, you've got some sort of enclosed area.

    Teach her the go cue with either a cluck or a tap with a long lunge whip or driving crop. She should know this from lunging. Teach her a 'whoa' by side-to-side pressure on the mouth GENTLY. Again, having a handler there to hold her head and reinforce these cues is KEY. Then, as she learns them, you can have the handler just be more of a security device and offer no cues. I started ground driving my horse this way (with my husband holding his head with the lead) and he caught on FAST. As for assembling the lines, you can run them through your stirrups if they're rolled up (English) or I put mine through the breast collar D-Rings on my western. A circingle is GREAT too, but a saddle is ok IMO too. You just want to be sure the pressure on the bit comes from where your hands are in the saddle.

    Teach her to walk and trot, circle, pivot, do serpentines, etc. She should be featherlight to the bit in these moves before you move on to the next step. Once she has this down, you're ready to start really working.

    I would find a dummy to try to 'ride' her at first. Something that is heavy, but not cumbersome, that you can attach to the saddle or put on her back to get her used to pressure. Then lunge her with it securely tied. At this point, having the dummy fall would be INCREDIBLY detrimental, so I would be sure it is really up there. Once she can lunge with the dummy, then start ground driving with the dummy.

    From there, you want to try adding your own weight. Slow slow and patience patience. Up to this point, you should be able to handle training on your own (minus the handler for the initial ground driving session). Once you start trying to mount, I would really encourage you to fork over the dollars to have a trainer come out for a few sessions, not because you necessarily NEED it, but you don't want to need it and not have it. OR, have someone there that is horse savvy to monitor the first rides. Short session, end them early. ALWAYS end on a good note. If she is ok with pressure on the stirrup, with you standing there, with you leaning over her back, etc. then she should be ok for the ride. Don't use legs when you get on. Just hands at first. Add legs later. Again, a TRAINER is really the way to go here for the first few rides. I really hope you'll consider it.

    What you don't want to do is ever scare her (if possible). She WILL spook and then you'll reassure her. ALWAYS talk to her. I talk to my horses whenever I'm with them doing something. PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE when she does right. Sternly but gently ask her for things, and if she doesn't respond, keep asking with more emphasis, not more force. If you're frustrated, drop that and come back. Ending on a good note is important, but making a bad note a wreck is WORSE. If she is doing something GREAT, stop and do something else. Teach her reward for doing right and repitition for doing wrong. Horses get frustrated, so if she starts to get upset, then drop it and come back. If she is doing bad with flexing, but will lunge, then lunge her and have her do something RIGHT before you stop. Don't reward bad behavior, but some horses will get stuck and frustrated and a little bit of patience is better than the horse creating havoc because they've reached the end of their 'rope'.

    I'm not sure if you have Satellite or Cable, but RFD-TV is a GREAT channel that has a lot of top-name trainers on it. I record all of the shows and watch them. I would go to your bookstore and get a handful of books that touch training. Just one isn't going to be the answer. I really like the book 'Problem Solving' by Marty Marten. Its not really related, but it kind of is for problems that come up. I like Clinton Anderson's clinic DVD's for ground work exercises. Umm...that's all I can think of! Sorry for the long post, hope it helps though. This whole process will take time. Don't move on to the next step until she has the previous step down pat. Don't rush. You have to be patient and you have to be the leader her. Don't let her boss you around at any point. If she starts bucking, pulling back, etc. let her (within reason), then act like it didn't happen and keep doing it. If she spooks at something, don't retreat, keep doing it. My horses spook at this one lawn chair at the barn. Every time, I walk them up to it, pick it up and swing it around a little, they sniff it, and we're good. Its better she knows what it is NOW than when you're in the saddle.
    Last edited by Allkian; 03-10-2011 at 02:27 PM.
    "It is a privilege to ride. It is a responsibility to ride correctly." -Cherry Hill

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    Thanks everyone for your contributions (big shout out to Alliken whose post I have copy and pasted into a word document )
    I have posted an ad on Craigslist ISO an experienced trainer who would be willing to help, either per session, or for several months. I'm sure you can appreciate that I want to be actively involved, as opposed to sending her away--how else will I learn?
    I've handled youngsters, halter broken horses and assisted in the retraining of ex point to pointers. I have been around others who have started their own horses in Scotland, who made it look very easy, but I believe this was from extensive ground training. There was NEVER any bucking, rearing, etc. I'm not sure if this is the exception or more the rule with first timers, but it did give me some confidence that with extensive ground training a horse can become mostly desensitized before you mount up for the first time. Unfortunately, those friends are in Scottland, and not in America.

    So, i'm hoping that I will get some nibbles from my ad, and someone may come along who would be willing to travel and work directly with me (training me AND my mare). I have a very sensible partner who has some experience around horses and is very calm and has very good natural horse(common) sense. I will be utilizing him to help hold for me as well, and of course for any *knock on wood* emergencies.

    I have a feeling I may also be utilizing this forum

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    slc
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    I really do not think Craigslist is the go-to place for good horse trainers/instructors; quite the opposite in fact. Try some local dressage, eventing or fox hunting club web sites instead. Generally they have ads from reasonably priced instructors, many of whom travel to farms.

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    future fox hunting horse, awesome ! alikins post has a alot of great info for you, although i never ever back my horses using a dummy rider, i think that is ridiculous, but that is just personal opinion - it wont hurt your horse.

    a great place to start with ground work is the parelli 7 games. i also like clinton anderson's roundpenning made easy and gaining respect and control on the ground. it sounds like you are a pretty experienced horse person who just needs some guidance starting your first young one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by slc View Post
    I really do not think Craigslist is the go-to place for good horse trainers/instructors; quite the opposite in fact. Try some local dressage, eventing or fox hunting club web sites instead. Generally they have ads from reasonably priced instructors, many of whom travel to farms.
    I have contacted those with websites within a 30 mile radius. I know Craigslist has some stigmas surrounding it, but I have been pleasantly surprised with what gets posted, and likewise who responds. You just never know who you might find...maybe someone who is retired and looking for a part time gig? Obviously I am also asking for references, qualifications, etc. Wouldn't want to end up with someone with the same amount of understanding and experience as me

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