Eight things equestrians NEED to know about green horses – Sponsored by MD Barnmaster

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Eight things equestrians NEED to know about green horses – Sponsored by MD Barnmaster

Training green horses can often be a rewarding experience. You don’t have to be the most experienced rider to train a green horse but it is never ideal for a true beginner rider to purchase one. ‘Learning together’ does not work very well when a rider has yet to get the basics down pat. But if you are a solid rider in the saddle with confidence in your abilities, then there is no reason you cannot consider purchasing a green horse. Not every rider has the right mindset to train a green horse and there is nothing wrong with that. I can train green horses fairly well but my dog-training skills suck and that’s why my dogs rarely go to horse shows. In order to do a good job of training green horses, you have to love it and commit yourself to the job.

Before you embark on your journey with a green horse, you need to consider:

1) You can train better movement but you can rarely fix tension in a nervous horse. Never hold out hope that a horse will outgrow its spooky tendencies. You can anticipate that with training, your horse’s movement will improve as it muscles up and develops balance.

2) Always look for a horse with a good walk and canter, worry less about the trot. You can always expect a horse’s trot to greatly improve with correct training. Do not expect its walk and canter to miraculously improve much as the horse matures.

3) Do not have time-oriented goals because you’ll end up getting frustrated when you do not reach your deadlines. With green horses, it is very hard to estimate a timeline of when things will happen. But rushing will get you nowhere. Focus on enjoying every little nuance of training progress and remember to reflect back often so you notice the positive changes. Keep a notebook diary and by looking back on the dates and milestones, it will help you remember how far you have come.

4) Be quicker to reward your horse than to discipline. Positive reinforcement is the key to training any animal. You need to reward your horse often and VERY quickly in order it for it to learn that it is responding correctly to your aids.



5) Remember that your horse doesn’t think like you or understand human language. If you get stuck on an element of your training, NEVER blame your mount. Assess how YOU are communicating and figure out what you can change to help your horse understand. Horses are not intentionally defiant; if something isn’t working it is your job as a trainer to be resourceful enough to help your horse learn.

6) Be prepared to hack lots. Just because your horse is green does not mean it should be confined to an arena; you need to be comfortable as a rider hacking out. Hacking is a great way to expand your horse’s world beyond the limits of your daily training areas. You don’t want your horse to become bored and arena sour; hacking is the best way to prevent this. During your hacks, you can still do plenty of training like leg yield back and forth on the trail, work on upwards and downwards transitions, etc.

7) Don’t let your ego prevent you from seeking the right help. No matter how much riding and/or prior horse training experience you have, sometimes you might need assistance. Even the best can hit brick walls with their horses’ training. Whether you just need a few lessons or you need to send a green horse for a few months of professional training, there is no shame in getting help. You don’t have to do everything on your own to be considered a good trainer.

8) Have a sense of humour. Greenies won’t always give you the answer you’re looking for during the training process, but at least they are trying. Instead of getting annoyed with your horse for hopping into canter every time you try to leg-yield, smile at its effort and try using your leg aid a little differently.

There is nothing more rewarding than bringing a horse from “never Evented before”, to trotting down centre line at your first CCI1* together. Trust me, if I can do it, so can you.

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