Question: I have a filly named Kahlua and I need to be her trainer but I don’t know what to do with her. What can I do with my 1 year old horse?
Answer from April Reeves: A green horse and a green rider is not a good combination, so I will give you some suggestions on how to go about learning how to work with a young horse. It will take you time and dedication, but without it, any words I write here will not help you much. You need to see and feel it for yourself.
1) Find a Trainer: find out who trains and teaches in your area, and ask them if you can either take lessons on how to work with horses or if you can watch what they do. If a trainer will let you watch, I suggest that you go to every barn that allows you to do that. Explain to them that you have a yearling that you do not know how to work with and if they will allow you to be present while they teach and work with horses.
2) Go to clinics and audit. They are great resources of information for a very low price.
3) Research the web. There are so many great sites with information on them. Take caution when viewing YouTube, as not all the information is valuable. You can find some good video and articles on my 3 sites (check out Adiva Murphy and Jay O’Jay on Horseman’s U: www.horsemansu.com, http://www.aprilreeveshorsetraining.wordpress.com, www.aprilreeveshorsetrainingchronicles.wordpress.com
5) Go to horse fairs and events. They are the best deal going when it comes to value for the price.
I could give you tips and pointers but I would be writing you a book. Instead, I will share a few things that apply to working with horses, no matter what style of training you are doing.
1) Never bring tension and anger into the relationship. Any horse training done with anger results in a horse that, not only did not learn anything, but has established fear with you.
2) Communicate to a horse like a horse. Horses do not hold grudges. Horses use simple language, but it is very clear and direct.
3) Keep each lesson simple and singular at first. Horses learn faster if you work at one thing at a time. Less is more when training a horse.
4) Have an unlimited supply of patience, as each lesson may take much longer than you anticipate. If you go out to work with your horse for half an hour, pick something you can get done within that time. If you have problems and you leave, you will set up a pattern that is very hard to fix.
5) Learn communication that is clear and direct (spend time absorbing what the masters do). Instead of reprimanding a horse for doing wrong, teach them what to do correctly. Exchange the bad habits and replace them with good habits.
It’s not just a matter of learning what to train; it’s knowing how. There is another good article on this blog: https://aprilreeveshorsetraining.wordpress.com/2008/11/14/start-young-horse/
These are my suggestions on how to get started. It is as much about learning the horse as it is about what to teach him first. Remember, you can’t ride Kahlua until the horse is 3. I start riding at the top of their third year; I never ride a 2 year old. There are many things you can teach your horse before you ever ride them, and without this prior work, your ride will not go as well.
Should you have questions about a particular problem then please email me back. Thanks for choosing me as your online helper and good luck with Kahlua. The more you learn, the more she learns.