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Franklin Levinson's

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When to start training and riding a horse?

Dear Franklin,

At what age do you recommend training a horse to ride? I have heard from age 2 to age 5. Quite a difference!

Thank you for your time.


Hi Susan,

It is reasonable that different folks have different feelings on this question. Actually, there is a lot of room here as different breeds develop a bit differently. Different horses, just like different people, develop and mature at different speeds. There is a lot 'different' in this email as well. Anyway, here is the way I like to see it happen; foals get handled and imprinted at birth, then get halter broke and trained to lead (with their mares) quickly. After that they are left alone with their mares and the herd with only a little handling to reinforce their initial conditioning to be handled by humans. Weaning takes place at 6 months to a year of age. Yearlings get handled on the ground regularly and begin light ground schooling once a week or so. They can be saddled but not ridden. At two years most horses can have a first ride. Then only an occasional short ride (once a week or twice a month or so and brief) with more regular ground schooling until three years of age. At three years most horses are ready to begin a regular program of under saddle schooling. Those horses will be considered 'green' until they are close to 6 years of age. At 3 1/2 to four years a horse can have a job, like trailing cattle. This is good, steady work without a lot of stress, just miles. Some solid, regular schooling should be part of the program as well. If the horse were to be trained for competition of any sort, 2 1/2 to three years old is a good time to start, depending on the horse and the type of competition.

I hope I have answered your question fully.

Sincerely, Franklin

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