STRATEGIES FOR TRAINING YOUNG HORSES
Just like young children, foals can exhibit toddler-like behaviour and act childish. Even if you aren’t already a parent, if you love horses and have been around them, you might have noticed this.
Ever seen how a young horse will exhibit signs of boredom if kept in a stall too long, or show personality assertiveness by ignoring the handler’s instructions.
Discipline and treats are simple, yet great child tricks for training horses, but here are some strategies to implement technique and improve your bond with your horse.
If you are lucky enough to train your own horse from a young age, you already know that it is the best way to make progress. A true testament when it comes to those riders who have taken young horses from foals to FEI levels.
Depending on the horse’s physical strength and his temperament there remain a few principles in training young horses that every rider should incorporate throughout their joint education to progress successfully.
Patience, patience … and then some more!
As mentioned earlier, this toddler-like behavior needs not only to be addressed and corrected (Not Punished!!!) but also framed in a tolerant and compassionate environment. Being patient is a virtue you couldn’t do without. Whether you simply are a horse enthusiast or aiming for events and dressage, which literally means training, you must focus on the process and be patient.
This patience will ultimately emanate from the love you have for the young horse proving the trust you have in him. It is this bond that you want to grow when training a foal.
The young horse will certainly test your boundaries, by refusing training, ignoring instructions or disrespecting your personal space which could be dangerous with a 1000lbs animal.
In any case this is a crucial stage to set boundaries for a foal, as any bad habits will unfortunately follow both of you for years to come. Respect and leadership must be earnt and demonstrated to a young horse. Always remain firm, yet fair! To set proper examples to the respectful relationship you wish to convey to a young horse.
Respect The Pace
Every horse is unique! You must learn to assess the strengths and weaknesses of a young horse and allow him to grow and mature at his own pace. Even if this process might take a longer training period, it is beneficial to a young horse’s complete and thorough training. A balanced and regularly paced horse is also safer.
Yield To Pressure
To train a foal, you need to communicate with him and teach him to understand what you are asking him to do. To teach a young horse this technique of pressure and release: you want to give them an instruction under the lightest pressure. The pressure should be increased gradually if the horse doesn’t respond, and released immediately when the horse correctly responds. Once the young horse understands the yielding to pressure, you will be able to work with him and continue training him correctly.
There are many strategies to adopt when training young horses, a simpler one would be to reach out for an experienced trainer who has most likely dealt with several problems training young horses and can guide and coach you along the journey. Riding a trained horse can also be easier if you want to focus on other aspects of training.
Photo Credit: Sara Hellner