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Horse Behavior and Training

when to start?


Hello all,

I have a lovely filly called Tilly who was one in June. She is an anglo arab X cob and i expect her to make around 15hh+. I have had her since august and she is very well handled.
I think she may just be testing the water with me at the moment as she is very bold and confident, she really doesn't mind standing on top of you and having the odd strop when asked to do something she is not in favour of =)
However, we are practising basic ground skills with the dually and she is coming on very well.

So my question is, when to get on and start the serious stuff with her?
I don't want to rush her in any way and i know that some people may back their horses at 3, 4 or even as late as 5. I have noticed though, on the Join UP DVD monty uses a 2 year old filly which has never been touched and by the end of the session, she is being sat on.

So what do you guys think? i have read alot of forums that state you shouldn't be touching yearlings at all and just let them be foals until they're ready to be started but i personally disagree with this. she lives out with 2 retired mares and a another youngster, i visit her on a daily basis to feed her, groom her and some days i will either take her a short walk or play with her in the school.

she is completely desensitised to the long lines and i think i could quite happily long line her now but i think its a bit too soon.

Hello! 100 lessons completed

I think this is a very personal choice and you have to do what you think it right. personally if I had a youngster I wouldn't be backing it till it was at least three and then I'd probably turn it away in terms of ridden work till it was 4. My reason for this is due to certain bones not finishing growing and fusing till that time and if you look at thoroughbreds in racing they are broken at 18 months and plenty are then retired, shot, or hopping lame with arthritis by their early teens. There are obviously some that go on forever.
I had a thoroughbred and he had a slightly sway back and a huge whither, in the opinion of a lot of professionals that the young age at which he was broken in caused both things and he would have grown more (or not had such a huge whither) had he been left to mature a bit longer.

My thought process is if I had a baby and gave him a bit more time, maybe it'll give him 5 years more ridden time later on. But again it's a really personal choice, I'd never dream of telling monty he was wrong for breaking his youngsters in at 2, thats his choice and he has his reasons. If you feel that your filly can cope with being broken in earlier then thats entirely your decision.
Waiting till later doesn't mean she has to sit in a field and do nothing -as you know- there is so much you can do without getting on board.
good luck with whatever you decide to do she sounds lovely :)


thanks very much chaz, you are very right in what you say =)

Miriam (Holland&Germany)
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Hello you two! Did you look at the "Willing Partner Program" on this Uni?
All these super young horses were started at the right moment in their personal case, but before someone rode them for the first time, they went through a lot of fun from the ground.
I'd prefer the word "starting" instead of "breaking", it describes in a more positive way, what the horses are going through.
Lay a fundament to build upon, until Tilly's time is there, doing groundwork. Earn her trust and look for opportunities to let her learn. Starting Thoroughbreds at the age of 2 has a lot of reasons, some of them economical. Monty say "time is not important, good horses are!"

Vio Berlin
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Hi there. I would love to keep in touch as I am working currently with a 18 month old colt I would love to purchase. Ground work can be done I think with a one year old. They learn very easy and quickly. Just remember they also have to learn to concentrate for more then 10 minutes or so. But walking and Dually work can create a bond as much as Join-Up just one time and keeping the other ones for later. I take obstacles like hey balls in the field to teach my colt to explore things together with me. I travel through narrow ways or in between obstacles. Giving the feet and learn to keep standing on three legs is so useful if done early. My little colt teaches me also to be soft and patient with him as he is baby BUT he is a cold that although beeing so young yet needs concequence pic nic ! yet. Better now as he is still small then dealing with a three year old that doesn't respect your space ! I am looking forward to your news, warm regards, VioBerlin


ahh thanks for all your help guys, you have just confirmed what i was thinking really. Its just nice to hear others opinions and how everyone else does things too!
We will carry on working with the dually, which has already worked wonders and playing 'games' that she can learn from for now =)

Equus Student
Please upload your photo 100 lessons completed

It's really important to get a good balance between training your youngster and letting her be a foal.
There are great benefits in starting early doing handling work with your youngster, but i do agree with some of the other comments that the long lining and riding work should not be done until your horse is mature enough.

However, there is plently you can do in the meantime. You have started Dually work which is great, you could also do some desensitization work, preparing the horse for the farrier, loading, and maybe when she is two, getting her used to the saddle and bridle.

Don't overdo it though, you don't want to annoy her or bore her. Three or four consecutive days of doing this type of work and then a few days off with her horsy friends should keep her willing and fresh.

Hope this helps, Equus Student