The proud owner of a new foal but unsure how to begin training them? Read on to find out.
When training horses of any age, it’s important to remember how they would act if they were in the wild. This provides you with a good idea of what behaviour to expect as younger horses in particular may have little or no idea how to interact with people.
Horse training can be incredibly challenging but it also very rewarding, especially when a foal eventually does as expected. Horses are naturally cautious of human interaction so developing a bond can be tricky and the initial actions of the horse will say a lot.
When a person approaches it they could choose to run or to stay – should it opt for the latter then you know that you have its attention. It’s then time to earn the horse’s respect and trust and means spending time around the young horse.
Formal training usually commences when a horse is around two years old, although foals can learn how to act around people from a much earlier age.
Riding at this age is virtually out of the question, as the horse does not have sufficient training or is ready physically. Groundwork is required before riding can occur and that begins with Lead Training.
Lead training enables the horse to learn how to walk on a lead rein with its owner as well as reacting to commands to change direction or stop.
Lunging can be started at approximately 2 years old depending on the maturity and development of the horse.
In this process, a long rope attaches to the horse’s halter allowing it a large circle of movement while its owner can teach commands. This technique can also come in handy when warming up a horse as it enables the animal to loosen its joins and warm up its muscles. It is also to remember that lunging should be done slowly and safely to ensure that the horses joints are not put under too much pressure. At Ride Away we have a selection of lunging equipment.
This bit of training is notoriously difficult to master and many horses will test their owners, which is why horse treats may be used when the foal follows commands. A number of horse books provide tips and techniques relating to lead training and it is important that an owner realises that the horse will not react straight away.
The horse must also be controlled as later training can be very difficult should the animal try to shoulder its owner out of their space when lead training. This lets the horse think that they are in charge and should be avoided at all costs.
The key here is patience and the time each horse takes to learn certain commands will vary – some may pick it up very quickly while others may take months.
The need for complete training
Proper training means horses will eventually respond to commands easily without hesitation.
Importantly, there is no set time for how long any training session should take, although longer periods could tire out the horse and make it less likely to obey.
By the time equipment is introduced to a horse, it should be capable of obeying commands and reacting appropriately. At that point, the initial training is complete and the young horse is a step closer to being ready for riding.