When Should I Start a Horse?

When Should I Start a Horse?

Foal with mother

There is a lot of debate about when is the right time to start a horse. I will talk about my personal opinion, but I recognize that other people have different views. The following “schedule” is mine, for an ideal world. Not everyone would send their horse this young for training.

Horses are usually fully finished growing when they are 4 or 5 years old. They are usually weaned when they are 6 months. I believe it is best to begin the process of starting a horse around 3-6 months. Bring them with their mother into the barn and arena, pick up their hooves, halter break them, etc. When they are this young it is important to not do very long sessions because their attention span is very short.

When they are weaned you can start doing groundwork. Do all the ground work you want still in fairly short 20 minute sessions. You can do multiple sessions a day, just give them a break for an hour or so in the paddock. Make sure the horse doesn’t learn to push on you at a young age. If you establish a foundation with the horse when they are this young, then when you start riding when they are older everything is much easier. Older horses, like 5 and up, that were started late are harder to train; they are more rebellious and have more of an idea of what they want (usually the opposite of what you want). But young horses are eager to just go with the flow.

Horse and Rider

By the time they are 1 or 2 I would like to have had a light saddle on them, like a bareback pad or a gallop saddle (a very light saddle used to gallop racehorses). I don’t think it is a good thing to ride a 1 or 2 year old because they are not fully developed and riding will cause exertion and harm. But they are ready for riding prep at this point. They should be able to switch eyes, maybe you can sit on them, I would have had a bit in their mouth and be ground driving, learned to stand at the mounting block, taken them to new surroundings, etc. I would still be doing fairly short sessions at a time and in between training months I would give them a few weeks to a couple months of just hanging out in the pasture with other young horses.

By the time they are 3 I would start riding and work on steering. At 4-5 they will be able to continually progress with their riding since they are fully grown.


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Horse related activities are inherently dangerous and caution should be used at all times.