Owning a horse, part 6.1 – Training of a young horse


In the last part of our series, my young stallion was castrated at the age of two and a half years. After the wound had healed his training began.
Since I am not a friend of a fast forming and breaking in a horse, I wanted to do the training in small steps, really slowly and gently for the horse. These steps I want to present to you in the next episodes of our series “Owning a horse”. We’ll start with the first three steps.

Step 1:

  • Training to lead the horse with halter (in the foal-rearing barn my horse did not have so much contact with humans, so he didn’t know how to behave during leading).
  • Tying at the grooming place without shying, leaping aside and fidgeting.
  • Direct contact with the horse through general daily routines such as picking hooves etc.
  • Familiarisation with blankets and pads (if a rug would be necessary in the short term, for example when the weather is cold and the horse was sweating).
  • Exercises with spray bottles (mane and tail spray, fly protection products).
  • Getting used to the washing with a water hose.
  • Familiarisation with leg protection.
  • Placing saddle pad and saddle on the horse’s back.
  • Getting used to the bridle and bit

Step 2:

  • Leading with the bridle.
  • Lunging bareback (always ask another person to help you with this).
  • Lunging with saddle, a little later with hanging stirrups.
  • Lunging with side reins long set rigid, to promote a good feeling for the horse to step confidently forward to the bit.
  • Transition to tie-down with running side-reins.
  • Muscle building by working with the lunge (not more often than 2-3 times per week, no long units, max. approximately 15 minutes).

The horse gets used to listening to the vocal commands of the lunging leader.


Step 3 – from here on an assistant instructor helped me and my horse who was three years old at this point:

  • Saddling in the stall, one person holds the horse, the other person stands on a chair, leaned over the horse’s back.
  • Gradually bring more weight onto the back of the horse.
  • When this has been successful, put some weight into the stirrups.
  • Finally get into the saddle and let the horse just stand still.
  • As we had plenty of space in the barn we could initiate the first steps with rider’s weight in a familiar environment.

The familiar environment of the barn provides security to the horse and was chosen deliberately for these first steps.

Follow up the next steps in the next part of the series.

Isabell Wengert has an apprenticeship as a veterinary’s assistant and has own horses since 2007. She loves to do the dressage with her horses and took the challenge to buy a foal, to educate and to train it. She cared herself for her horseslike doing all the work in and around the stable and riding arena. So she has diversified knowledge about horses in general. Since she is from Germany she will show the European side of the world of horses. Beneath her full time job, her two horses and one dog she writes some columns and stories for Horze and Finn Tack.