Breaking A Horse

Breaking a Horse – What to Do and When

Training a horse for driving and riding is often referred to as ‘breaking’. In this training, the horse is broken out of its habits and domesticated for several purposes. Breaking is always a long-term process and entails many different stages. Here is a rough outline of what to do and when:

Foal: Training when the horse is still a foal should be about getting them used to life at the yard. They should be familiarised with noise and the every day life of their surroundings.

It is wise to teach foals to be led and to have their hooves handled. The most important thing is to always act in a calm and soothing manner and not to try teaching the foal too many things at once.

Two years and over: Once the horse is around two years old, some light training should begin. The most common step is to teach the horse to be free lunged. When mastered, the horse will obey voice instructions given by their trainer when lunged without a lead.

The next step from this is lunging with a lead. Around this time the horse should be getting used to carrying some equipment on it starting from a roller girth and a lunge cavesson. A horse should later be introduced to a bridle and a bit.

Once the horse is used to having a bit in its mouth, trainers often move on to long reining. This is a vital part of not only driving horse training but for horses to be ridden and therefore having rein contact with their rider. It will also get them used to being controlled from behind their head.

Three to Four Years: Depending on their build and breed, horses can be trained for riding when they are three to four years old. This training should be started slowly by first getting them used to a saddle and eventually having someone mount and dismount them. When the horse is accustomed to this, it may be mounted and ridden around, gradually teaching them more.

The most important thing about breaking a horse is timing and patience. If you are unsure about what to do, when and more importantly how, always ask an experienced trainer for help. A well-trained horse can be a true joy to ride or drive but badly trained horses are extremely difficult to teach out of their bad habits.

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