Training a horse takes time, know how and patience to achieve, and training horses is an ongoing process whether you are asking a horse to walk on or asking for half pass. If a solid and understanding training program has been used then the horse will understand and flourish within it. The main thing to remember when training young horses is to start off with little amounts of training and to do them as often as you can with consistency.
This starts off with the horse getting used to being groomed and touched all over, from this handling wearing a head collar and leading and tying up can begin. Now that the horse is wearing a head collar and can be controlled more easily the wearing of a bridle, saddlecloth, circingle, boots and rugs can begin. These are the first steps towards the start of the horses training for ridden work and with all training, time and patience is required to give the horse time to understand the feel of grooming and the wearing of tack as well as the correct way to lead and tie up so that they learn what you require of them.
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Lunging horses will teach them to listen to voice commands, and learn to wear items of tack. The trainer standing in the center will ask for walk, trot and canter and eventually the horse can learn to start working and using itself correctly with the help of training aids used when lunging.
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Long reining is a progression from lunging and is where the trainer stands behind the horse with a lunge line on either side of the horse attached to the bit rings. The trainer gives the horse voice commands and rein aid commands. It teaches the horse to start to listen to rider aids and can then be used to take the horse out for walks in the area around you, which is great experience for the horse to learn to deal with different noises and experiences such as traffic and other animals but also gives them variety in their work.
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Breaking in is where the horse is mounted. If sufficient ground work, such as lunging and long reining has been done then the horse will already have an good understanding of the rider aids and voice commands. Mounting the horse is a job for two people the trainer an an experienced rider and this process should not be rushed, each horse needs to be treated as an individual.
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Early training of the horse once mounted will be walk, trot and canter and basic steering. Once all the basics have been mastered and the horse is accustomed to mounting and dismounting in the menage then the horse can be taken out into the surrounding area, this is best done with an accompanying horse, so that the young horse in training can be assured if anything troubles them.
From basic training flatwork can be introduced and this is where the horse starts to work in a more consistent outline and learns the finer points of bending, stretching collection, extension and lateral movements such as Shoulder In, Half Pass, Leg Yield, Passage, Piaffe, Pirouettes, Rein Back, Flying Changes and Travers.
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Pole training then follows the flatwork and this starts off the horse learning how to pick up his feet and assess the distances that the the poles have been placed at, pole work can be done in walk, trot and canter to begin with. Start off with a single pole and then progress to three and then more. You can use poles to help with collection and extension as well as giving the horse variety in their work. When the horse is happily working over poles then jumping can start.
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Start off with a small cross pole to build up the horses confidence and strength of muscle. Then progress to riding a couple of cross poles placed separately around the arena. You can then progress up to riding upright fences and spread fences.
Grid work is where a succession of fences are placed in a row and it teaches the horse to be quick with their feet as there can be anything from a bounce to a one stride between fences. Only use grid work when the horse is already happily working around a course of small fences. The height of the fence should be slowly built up so as to accustom the horse to both the height and width of the fence, if sufficient training has been done then this should be a steady progression, remember that each horse has its own scope of fence and with the right training it will be able to jump that height easily.
More about Jumping
Once the horse is working correctly on the flat , over poles and jumps then competition training can begin. To start off with taking them to a local show for a look around is a good way to start, as show grounds can be very noisy places. When the horse feels ready and settled then you can start with dressage tests and small jumping competitions or showing depending on what sphere you have been working on and how the horse is progressing.
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This is the gentle art of training horses with understanding and without force that works with the horses own natural instincts to help with training.
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