A question of this character makes a frequent appearance in Aspire blog’s “search terms” so I feel I should share at least a few thoughts on the subject from time to time 🙂
The most appealing quality of youngsters is their so called “unspoilt” nature. Older horses come with their baggage and here is a chance to train a blank canvas. If you are a good painter, have a decent ability to handle your tools well, you have a high chance of creating a nice painting on that canvas, something of a pleasing quality that brings enjoyment to you and many who come to see your work.
If you are just learning your acrylics from your watercolours, you might really benefit from some faint sketch to follow so the shapes make sense…maybe some education on mixing colours so they match those in real life…
Consider: if despite your inexperience you are set on purchasing a young horse, you might want to surround yourself with a good support team that can step in quickly when needed. This is sometimes seen as a weakness but is anything but. It shows the knowledge and appreciation of the horse’s learning process, development of habits and confidence.
FIRST HORSE – YOUNG HORSE?
I often see riders being advised against buying their first horse if it is a youngster. As a general rule, I agree. However, if you took your time to educate yourself well, rode many different horses and handled variety of them at various stages of their life, don’t let the general rule stop you from investigating the possibility further.
If a notion of bringing on your own young horse drives you to acquire the necessary skills, then you might not take the general rule too seriously.
Consider: your level of experience and knowledge of training (be honest with yourself), your ability to work on natural crookedness of a young horse, natural lack of balance, natural hollowness of the back, natural curiosity of the world and natural unpredictability of reactions to that world..
ANATOMY, PHYSIOLOGY and MENTAL SIDE OF THINGS
Knowing how horses develop anatomically and physiologically, even if in simple terms only, is an absolute must for anyone who takes on a challenge of educating a youngster. The body changes can be huge in a relatively short space of time. Those changes call for adjustments in tack, nutrition, riding demands, rider position, type of training…
Then there is mental and emotional maturity that can only develop well if the rider is aware of what he/she needs to work on.
Consider: if you are a competent rider but lacking knowledge in the above department, don’t give up – consider involving a trainer who will keep you in check and help you read the changes well. Sometimes eyes on the ground and an experienced seat in the saddle a few times a month is all you need to keep everything under control.
This is probably least mentioned aspect of owning a young horse. Many first time owners want to spend a lot of time with the horse, go for longer rides, fun rides, hacks with friends, schooling shows etc etc There are many views on young horse training including how much “stress” is too much and how much is necessary for learning to happen, but one thing is pretty sure: you don’t spend a long time on a young horse’s back…
Consider: youngsters thrive on short sessions, 25-30 minutes is often more than enough for a schooling time. Long rides are out of question for young, growing bones and unfocused minds. Variety is paramount to learning but so is routine and structure to the training.
Young horses have an uncanny ability to know a leader from a boss – leadership comes from confidence in purpose, tasks and actions whilst bossiness, well, they see through it and they will catch any inconsistency.
Consider: you don’t have to be the bravest, most fearless rider to go for a young horse. Sure, it helps to be brave but I don’t believe it is necessary. Look at your level of confidence in your training methods, your handling methods and yourself as a person. Quiet confidence helps with patience, assertiveness, persistence and open mindedness…The qualities that have the power to bring on a well educated young horse.
That’s it for now. If I see more of these kind of searches in the blog’s stats, I will try to bring more content on this subject 🙂 Please feel free to add your own thoughts and experiences in the comments!