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Training a 17 mo. old colt

Hi Franklin:

We have a 17 mo old appaloosa gelding. We have owned him since he is 6 mos. He is very sweet and willing to learn. We already have him halter broke and his manners are pretty good for a baby. My daughter has sat on him without a saddle and recently put a saddle on him and trotted him a little. I feel he is too young for this much work and that she should do ground work and round pen work with him first. I am afraid she can hurt his legs by riding him too soon. Please help me to help her to understand the process for training a colt.

Sincerely, Terre

Hi Terre,

I agree with you completely. A 17 month old horse is much too young for anything other than regular, short periods of ground schooling. One hour or so a day is fine for light handling, some lungeing, a lot of 'sacking out' (which is getting the horse exposed to potentially scary things like tarps, slickers, noises, plastic bags, things waving and flapping around it, ropes around it's legs and just about anything else you can think of. Do you understand this process as it is very important and so very neglected much of the time. It is fun and easy to do and will give you a better understanding of the nature and psychology of horses. Your daughter, perhaps, needs to understand and learn that there is so much more to a horse than a human riding it. There is a world of the horse that has nothing to do with humans and this is the natural world of the horse that contains the real 'goodies' of being with horses. Riding the horse should be the icing on the cake of any relationship with a horse. It is actually relatively easy to get a saddle on horse for the first time. Try getting the horse used to an 10x12 foot tarp flapping and waving in the wind. Then get so you can drape the tarp over the horse in the wind. Then get the horse to walk over the tarp and then to stand on the tarp patiently. This is a greater challenge than getting on the horse. Through doing the sacking out process a lot for the next 3-4 months, you and your daughter will come to really have a relationship with this horse that is built on trust and respect. If you have an arena, paddock or round pen you could be doing some 'at liberty' training as well. This is a ton of fun. You could also do some very elementary trick traing too. There is so much you could be doing that does not involve riding the horse.

Generally, I start a horse (first few rides) as a two-year-old. I will do extensive sacking out and at liberty play (notice I say "play" rather than "work" as playing has a different feel than working). The actions may actually be the same and exercise happens during both. But I rather play than work as the mind set is different. I may gently ride the horse once a week lightly (perhaps just a little trotting) and that all. At three the horse is generally ready for some real miles. Perhaps getting some good education about horses would help you and your daughter understand more about them. The purchase of a training DVD or two is the most cost effective and efficient way to gain the knowledge adb education about horses you could use. It will show you training methods it would take you years to get. There are many good DVD's in the backs of all horse magazines. I hav several described within the shopping corral of my website that would be very helpeful to you. No matter whose DVD's you get, get several and watch them. You cannot begin to understand how valuable that knowledge is now. Once you view the DVD's you will thank me forever and so will our horse. You simply cannot get enough education and get it fast enough. Simple solution, huh? I remain available to respond to specific questions and assisit in you in any way you like. Please help your daughter to realize there is so much more to horses than humans riding them. Thanks for your email and I hope you all have a terrific Holiday Season.

Sincerely, Franklin

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