School of Riding, Education for Horses



Starting young horses

Starting a young horse is a very delicate enterprise. Whoever is taking the young horse through his first experience with humans has the responsibility of setting up how this experience will feel to the horse for the rest of its life.  It is a great responsibility.

This process cannot be started before the end of the horse’s 3rd year.  Horses being born usually some time in spring, it is a good thing to get them started under saddle in fall, until they can walk, trot and canter comfortably indoors, and outdoors if possible.  Giving them the rest of the winter off to absorb the information and mature a bit more in their bodies always has the interesting effect of accelerating the education of the animal. Light work can then be started in spring, at the beginning of their 4th year, when the weather gets more comfortable.

Starting a horse a year or two later than this is not a problem, and with some slow maturing breeds, it might even be advisable. Starting earlier is asking for trouble. I have seen horses handling a rider at 2 years old in their head without any problem, but those horses invariably end up with joint issues in their early teens and sometimes before.

Preferably, the young horses have very little contact with humans in their first few years until they can be started by a professional. It gives respectful animals that are smooth to train. Problems tend to arise when good intentioned owners want to start the horses on their own (even if it is on the lunge line only), or if the foal has been raised like a family member. You are training your horse every time you interact with it, wether you want it or not. Sometimes the goal is to start the work for the trainer, thinking that it will go faster (and maybe save a little money as well), but this often results in having to un-train or correct bad habits before the work can start, which takes longer, and sometimes leaves a lasting impression on the animal.

Training horses is a profession that requires a lot of studying, like for a doctor. Some horses have an easy temperament and will be more flexible as to how things are presented to them, like some people sail through life with a few common colds and one bout of appendicitis, making the doctor’s job easy. But a lot of them have more sensitivity or hard to control power that requires special treatment. There are no naughty horses, only horses handled by people who don’t understand them. And the more misunderstood they are, the longer it takes to make them trust people.


$1,000 per month,

Does not include boarding.