You must be crazy to think you can start your own young horse under saddle! After all - that stuff should only be for professionals right? You do some research, get some recommendations, then when the time comes you pay some bucks and send your horse away to someone and hope to God that they do a good job so you can continue on with your dream of having a young horse and ride off into the sunset. Sound familiar?
BUT....you have some reservations....you’ve heard some CRAZY stories about trainers not doing a good job. Or maybe you want to learn what your horse is going to do with the trainer and BE THERE to see the process. Maybe the thought of sending your beautiful prized horse off to a stranger for weeks on end and not really know what is going on freaks you out somewhat? Perhaps...crazily enough - you actually care what your horse is doing for those weeks and genuinely want to be involved and ‘check in’ with your baby - see what him or her are doing, stay up to date with the progress, and god forbid - you’re one of these crazy owners who WANTS TO LEARN EVERYTHING there is to know about your young horse’s education?!?!?
So stick with it - there’s a point to this story :) When I first started training horses for clients I had not ‘broken’ in any young horses. But it was something I very much wanted to learn. I began with my uni degree in Equine Studies and learnt this ‘long reining’ thingy, and mouthing, and how to saddle/bridle a youngster. When I realised I really enjoyed this I decided I’d get my own young horse/s and break them in first - they were my guinea pigs so to speak! And what did I do? I enlisted the help of a great trainer/breaker (still a close friend of mine to this day and still often helps me start the occasional young horse!) - I also read lots of books, and watched lots of videos! And then I got more help from other trainers and clinicians - I never stopped learning and still to this day haven’t stopped learning. Why do I tell you all of this? Because the ONLY way for you to learn the ‘how to’ of young horse training is to either (a) work it out yourself through trial and error, a few YouTube videos, a book or two...and hope you survive the process...(not ideal if you plan on living a long life) or (b) enlist the help of an experienced horse friend/breaker/trainer to give you guidance, help and support.
Are you CRAZY?? I’m not experienced enough to start my own young horse!!! But here is the thing - HOW DO YOU GAIN EXPERIENCE???!!! Cue....(this is where I plug my services folks) go along to a Pre-Starting Clinic or Young Horse Starting Clinic OR Sign up to the Outback Equines Mentoring Program. Now for those that aren’t keen to do the actual backing/first rides - that’s cool too - there’s me (the trainer) who is there to guide, support and also DO some of the technical stuff that you don’t feel ready for. Some clinics are just Pre-Starting - this involves Foundation Horsemanship, Progressive Desensitisation, Introduction to long lines/long reining, saddle/bridle - everything to get the horse ready correctly and calmly so that if you still decide to send your horse away - the process is MUCH LESS STRESSFUL for your horse, can also cost you less (and you’ve learnt in the process) AND your trainer’s job is safer and less stressful as she is working with a well handled youngster. He won’t go through a CRAZY boot camp where he’s done nothing - only to be hit with 4-8 weeks of HARD work and shocked into the world of a working horse! However, as your mentor, I can get you and your horse prepped and ready so that when the time comes I can almost guarantee you’ll WANT to do that part yourself. Your young horse will be set up for success, and the backing/first rides will be ‘just another thing’ that he takes on board and takes in his stride. You see - if you take the time the horse needs, and prepare him or her appropriately and take the correct necessary steps in your horse’s education - the first rides and backing actually aren’t that technical. And it’s incredibly rewarding to start your own young horse under saddle - the bond that you build up and the relationship building that happens is second to none. You’ll know your horse’s history and you’ll know how he or she ticks before you start putting more miles on them! You’ll know them so well that you’ll both have a heap of confidence in each other and the smile on your face when you ride your baby for the first time you’ll never forget!
So - if you are seriously HORSE CRAZY (like I am!) - learn how to start your own young horse under saddle. Take your young horse ownership to a higher level and place full responsibility into your very Extraordinary and capable hands along with the help and support of a reputable, knowledgeable and experienced trainer. Or at least be a part of your young horse’s education and take an interest in their training sessions - go along and learn.
There’s an old saying “Feed a man a fish and he eats for a day - Teach him how to fish and he eats for a lifetime”. I want you to become an Extraordinary Horse Owner for a lifetime - and the journey can start right here with your own young horse.
Happy horsing around folks - and remember to Train Smarter Not Harder ;)