Young horse training part 3: getting on

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It has been quite a time since part 2, so we really have to catch up now, because if you are following my Instagram you for sure have already seen what a model pupil Nessie has become.

Last time I told you how we started the communication while lunging, how I start doing small transitions with the young horses and mainly already implement all basics that would be needed when riding.

Since Nessie loves to work and is such a clever boy, he improved rapidly so I felt save to start getting on. Since he had a break since spring and also behaved rather green we started once again from the very beginning.

This means after I lunged him, Anita held him and I started getting on, first just leaning on the saddle and when he seemed to be ok with it slowly getting into the saddle. Still standing, still being held. What I like to do is while in saddle cuddling and talking to him, also Anita was feeding him a little treat to avoid any tensions and make this the most wonderful experience.

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After he was fine with me in the saddle we proceeded with walking in hand. Again with lots of appreciation and talking. What I also like while doing these first exercises with young horses is music and various other distractions -no I am not talking about heavy construction works or other bucking horses in the arena 😉 but I find it easier if the environment is not absolutely sterile but as ‘normal’ as possible. In our case this means music, the clicking of the camera, noises from the grooming place, the tractor, etc.

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While walking in hand I try to build a little connection to the bit and also see how the horse reacts to my legs, to slightly adjusting the weight etc and I ask to widen the distance between the person leading and the horse so that in our next step we will be on the lunge. And if this feels right I prefer trotting to walking, so the young horse can move forward and needs to concentrate on moving rather than on its environment.

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Even on our first cautious rounds Nessie gave a wonderful feeling. For his young age he already is quite balanced and has this natural ‘go’. Although I also had a super nice connection to the bit I preferred to have him on the lunge for a couple of times, as our arena is quite big and I really wanted to avoid any misunderstandings or miscommunication steering wise. As I said before, for me it is all about building trust and therefor I gladly accept progressing a bit slower than perhaps usual. In my opinion (and experience) the time and patience spent in these first training units is easily saved later once you trust and know each other.

So after a few times on the lunge we finally removed it and did our first rounds ‘free’. It was a very proud moment, as proud as you probably are when doing your first three or more one-tempi changes…and I can tell you Nessie was proud too (at least he behaved like he was) and very tired… although it was just a training unit of 30 minutes and the actual ‘riding’ time was for sure less than 10 minutes it takes all his mental strength and concentration. I am always overwhelmed of how hard our horses try to please us and what a privilege it is to train these amazing creatures. So I always try to ‘listen’ hard and feel in order not to exhaust the young horse, because as I said before if you end your unit right both of you will look forward to the next one.

And if we are talking about ending a training unit: I always try to do one correct transition to walk and see that the horse proceeds in medium to extended walk with longer reins and again lots of vocal appreciation (yes indeed you can shout ‘good boy, super boy, such a gorgeous boy’ (or girl) I swear they will understand 😉 …) and cuddling, then I will do a correct halt and see that the horse really stands still for a bit, again high praise and only then I will get off.

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