Green, young or uneducated horses need a certain approach if you are to be successful in their ongoing training.
A green horse is one that has a limited amount of training, riding or exposure to things. So you can have an older horse, that hasn’t had many rides, or hasn’t been out and about much, and they are still considered to be ‘green’. As a general rule I would consider a horse that has spent more time ‘not ridden’ than ridden, to be green. For example if you have a 5 year old horse that was started as a 3 year old, he has been ridden for 2 years, and unridden for 3, so he could still be considered green or young in his education. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, being a horse that may have gone straight into a training program and has been ridden every week for 2 years, he could be considered pretty broke.
The other exception to this rule is how much education is actually being put in. The horse may have been under saddle for 2 years, but if the rider is just ‘riding’ and not actually taking the time and making the effort to educate, then basically you have a horse that is used to having a rider on, but may remain very limited in their education.
I see a lot of horses that still need to be taught their basics, even though they have been ridden for years.
In either case, it is important that we are sensitive to the green horses needs, and we set them (and us) up for success in riding. This may mean going through our checklist every time before we ride, to ensure our, and our horses safety. The purpose of going through our checklist is to look for and identify any ‘red flags’ and address them before hopping on.
Different trainers are going to have different checklists, mine includes the following as a priority, and I will add other things in as appropriate to the horse or the situation.
* Bend. The horse must be willing and soft in a bend, in both directions, by following a feel, not by me pulling their head around in the halter
* Hindquarter yield. The horse must be able to shift his hindquarter smoothly, willingly without brace or tension
* Forward. The horse must be able to walk, trot and canter with the saddle on without rushing, humping, bucking, and change directions
These are my 3 main checks. On a very green horse I would go through my entire checklist which would include turns on the haunches, sideways, unravel, watch my energy.
The investment you make to ensure that your green horse is ready is vital for your safety, and his confidence.
Here you see Leah and Ranger at a recent clinic - Ranger is a green horse just coming back into work after being started under saddle in July. In the photos you see Leah completed ground work, and tested the water with her weight in the stirrup, and her body above him, before just jumping on his back. Leah had also completed all her other checks, and once she had all ‘green lights’ her and Ranger enjoyed a great ride together.
Take the time,
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