Monday, November 12, 2007

Trying to Get my Breeding Business Back on Track - Training Young Horses

Before I tell you about my "accident" I thought I should tell you a bit of how I got to this place this weekend. This process of starting these horses under saddle has been going on for a while. This most recent effort has been going on for a couple of months. If think if I don't start with the history, I'll be straying all over the place so I'm thinking this will make more sense.

This fall while I have been catching up on some "history" in A Baby Boomer Dreams of Arabian Horses posts and trying to stay semi-current on posts about Rachel and Grandma
, I have been trying to get on track with training horses as well. The last few winters have just been so ugly that I have been unable to accomplish much riding outside. The end result was I just didn't get horses into the show ring.

There's no way I am going to get quality show horses sold without getting them into the ring. Even my open houses have been ineffective at getting "buyers" and particularly trainers out to my farm. The people who do come are wowed by the horses but not really shopping. It takes fancy horses in the ring to lure prospective show horse buyers out to see what else a breeder might have.

My original business plan always included getting my horses into the ring. Because these lines mature late, I've not had much luck getting them started, let alone shown, as junior horses. Then between the weather and "life's" other forms of interference, I just haven't gotten them into the ring at all except for yearling halter. The result is I am at a crossroads, no more breeding until I get some show horses down the road.

To make sure that the horses get enough miles under saddle this winter, we've taken some stalls at the same barn where Rachel keeps Dandy and Hope. I decided I needed to do whatever it takes to get some horses broke enough to show and for that matter get Legs to Nationals in the amateur owner to rider (AOTR) western pleasure. The Arabian horse can't be an ambassador for my farm sitting at home.

Originally the plan was that I was going to take four of the un-started youngsters over to the barn to work. That would give me a total of six to work there. In addition I would haul in another three for a total of nine a day. I could rotate those being hauled in so that I could be training a total of twelve horses. That was the plan anyway..........

I started off with the two five year old stallions, Scandalous Storm and Scandalous Reflection. Scandalous Hope was already at the barn. The mare is the oldest Legs' baby that isn't started yet at six, so she was on the list as well. Once I'd built up a little stamina, (don't you laugh. While I don't let my age stop me, it does slow me down from time to time) I was going to add Louie and Percy into the mix at the barn. Both are three year old geldings.

The commuting horses would be Legs, Vee, Dare, Faith, Tag and the last was undecided. I have lots of choices but not sure which way I wanted to go for sure.

Soon after I took Storm and Reflection over to the farm, several of the young horses here came down with the snots. That stopped me in my tracks for hauling anyone out of here, including Legs. Even though he wasn't sick, I couldn't be sure he wouldn't carry something to the other farm.

I had been on the backs of both Storm and Reflection late last year. I rode each of them four times in the round pen at home. The first two rides were on a leadline with Colleen doing the leading. The next two were on my own. We just walked and jogged a little. Then the weather turned ugly and I was stopped dead in my tracks.

Up to that point I had sacked both horses out repeatedly. Then I had saddled them and lunged them in the round pen wearing the saddle and a bridle with loose reins tied to the saddle flapping away.

After the lunging, I did work on the ground, teaching each horse to move away from pressure on his sides and to give to pressure on the bit as well. Even on the ground before I apply pressure to the bit, I drive the horse forward from behind. Once the horse begins to step off, I take a very light hold on the rein. At the first sign of a give, I release. It doesn't take much and I have a horse flexing nicely around me on the ground.

Once the horses got comfortable with moving off the pressure on their sides and giving to the bit, I began shortening up the length of the reins when they were lunged (biting up) exposing them to light pressure on the bit. As each horse got more accustomed to feeling the pressure and giving to it, I shortened the rein some more. I continued this work until both horses were light, soft and going forward while bitted up. I don't remember how long I did this with each horse but it was near a couple of months.

Then I got on them. Not because that is where I like to go in my training program, because it isn't, but because that was when I had help. I skipped my next step, which is ground driving, and got on because Colleen was available for a couple of days. That's been the story of my life in training young horses, a little here......and a little there........

To be continued..........

Part 2

To those who have asked for me to add some designs to my zazzle collection, I am experiencing some problems with the process. So I am waiting for Zazzle's techs to help me solve my problem. I haven't forgotten you.

This picture is Scandalous Legacy as a yearling.


  1. Great post! And I love that photo of Legs...he's absolutely GORGEOUS!!

  2. Suspense again LOL. I am worried about you now and feel so bad that I had no idea about this until today. I didnt realise I was so behind on my reading.

    I know the feeling about starting young horses and bad weather putting a spoke in the works.



  3. i've just gotten my first arab... a been there done that endurance horse. My first horse is a thoroughbred mare (can you say "kentucky") but riding an arab is a horse of a different color. I might be needin' to pick your brain

    some thoughts
    gotta love e'm
    gp in montana

  4. Ya always leave me hanging! And keep me comin' back.LOL