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DancingDressage

young horses.

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Well I'm still searching for a new horse but I finally think I found one I really like, though he is young. This would be my first young horse he's just turning three, but he's very level headed and has a few months of training. I'll have a trainer working with me so thats not a problem, but I do have a few questions. He's a hanoverian cross and physically still growing, I heard somewhere that you can hurt a baby's back if you sit the trot, is this false or ture? My trainer can help me with most of the training, I just like some feedback from a range of people. And I also like to know how often you ride your younger horses? If I was to ride frequent but for short amount of times, could most handle this. I know it's very important to take things slowly and watch out for sourness. Thanks.

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Well......

I'll admit that I'm pretty biased against people who start horses too early. Afterall, we wouldn't have so many messed up horses and cases of navicular if people would do thinks in order, [bang Head] and when the horse was actually READY (*gasp*, what a concept) [shocked]

Here's what I think though.

When any horse, young or old has very little muscling they have a harder time accomodating a rider. Sitting the trot on a fairly well muscled horse does no harm, HOWEVER, if the horse has a weak back, it causes excess strain that really doesn't need to be applied.

As you start out with this guy, make sure you are worrying about ground skills and responsiveness before you worry about sitting trots. When you do start working on trotting, start out with little posts until he's more developed.

Good luck with him!! [smiley Wavey]

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The first thought in my mind is why would you want to sit the trot with such a young horse? From a purely competitive stand point, the sitting trot is not called for until the first level, and I don't think you're there yet. From a training point of view, why would you want to impeed any forward movement or the development of a swinging trot? Looking at it from a medical view point I agree with Rodaos girl. Why push for something when the horse isn't ready for it?

If you are looking to work on your horse's balance try half seat or two point for about 10 strides, then posting for 10, then half seat or two point for 10, then back to posting for 10. Do broken lines and then double broken lines, 20 m circles with changes on the center line and then 20 m circles with changes through the circle. All that should get your horse balanced and bending, and keep you busy for a few months.

Any time you want to try something with training ask yourself what the benefit would be for the horse. Can my horse do a some what canter pirouette, yup because we've barrel raced and I've worked it in out of a hauches in to get him off the forehand. Does that mean that I should train that movement for a test? No way, he's not over the top well enough nor collected enough. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

Have fun with your fellow and enjoy every step of the way.

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I would avoid sitting trot until he is strong, etc. I like everyone has been saying.

The biggest thing with a big, growing baby is to be paitent. There's no need to rush things at this stage, and rushing will cost you in the long run. Typically, a 3 yr. old may do well be ridden 20-30 minutes, 4 or 5 days a week. You'll also want to plan to give him time off to just be a horse and grow into himself. Example: get him confirmed under saddle on the basics (walk, trot, canter straight and forward and accepting a very light contact) then let him have a couple of months off and focus on just getting to know him, working on his ground manners, maybe take him on some really low key field trips just to hang out. Then, put a little more time under saddle, reminding him about the basics he's learned and work on simple transistions. If he's good and steady, take him out for short hacks to switch things up and build a little fitness. Then, give him some more time off. If you follow a plan similar to that, I would guess that by the time the spring of his 4 yr. old year rolls around he'll be ready to polish everything up and start going to some shows. The biggest thing is not to be afraid of letting him rest and be a horse. 9 times out of 10, a youngster comes back from a vacation better than he went into it. Good luck.

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My coming 3 year old had a little time under saddle learning to behave and walk and trot only. Now he has been off for 4 months and sometime this summer I will get back on him again...then back out he will go. This is working well for him and we do A LOT of ground work and he is turned out everyday. He is getting very strong and I am enjoying spacing his training to ensure he becomes a well rounded "adult"!

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We had my three year old started in September after he turned 3 in June. He stayed with the trainer for two months and as a general rule, David worked with him for 30 minutes 5 days a week and did a lovely job with no sitting trot, but had him w-t-c both leads when he came home. Since he is just a baby, and a big baby at that (he's about 16.3 now) we do ring work 2 maybe 3 days a week (alternate every other week) and trail ride. After my vacation, the ring work will possibly pick up some because he is getting closer to 4, but he will still hack out after the rides and the focus will still be on fun. I'm not concerned with sitting on him any time in the future although I do sit a few steps before I ask for the canter.

What is the rush? It is not like I am going to put him in the 4 year old tests? If that is your goal, you may want to start doing those things and pushing, but unless they are, you need to make it fun for your baby because he is a baby and still growing. Recent articles in DT talk about pushing young horses too much--S Meisner and Balkenhol. Reiner Klimke's young horse book is excellent too. Unless you have time to play around and do some waiting, a baby, which a 3 year old really is may not be the right option for you. It is a big committment of waiting and doing the right thing even though the right thing may be waiting to ride in lessons and show until they are 5 because warmbloods and even crosses mature slowly--that isn't to say they can't do it, but if you want to ensure your horse stays sound for the long term you may want to wait. One thing I would do, is before you start serious work with a 3 year old, is x-ray and see what has closed, short of that, just minimal work--of course, that was my vet's advice.

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Make sure that you're taking time for all of the great in-hand exercises you have to teach your horse, and not just rushing to get on him. Try Michael Schaffer's book, Right from the Start, which gives you TONS of things to do when starting your dressage horse. You can really introduce a lot from the ground at this young age, which will make the training you do later on his back much easier. Just something to think about doing first of all with your new horse. [smile]

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Thanks everyone for the advice. I was told he had been started during the summer and than left to grow in the field and than restarted around christmas. I don't plan on pushing him, I take weekly lessons on schoolmasters for myself, I just wanted a project horse that I could work with.

I spend a lot of time at the barn, almost everyday, and look forward to earning trust and a bond, I will spend a lot of time on the ground with him. I don't want you guys to think i'm in a hurry or rushing things, i'm not, I just want to be on the safe side and rather ask questions than just try it and hurt him. In my lessons I do more sitting trot than posting, but I understand things are different with him thats why I asked.

I was thinking I would ride four to five days a week for 20-30 min. workouts. They have amazing trails at my stable and i'm excited to try them out, so he won't have ring work all those days.

Thanks everyone.

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My 4 y.o. was pasture-raised and started as a 3 y.o. under saddle, but not in dressage, just broke to ride.

If you take it easy and remember that he's got a short attention span and even shorter stamina level, you should be fine. We're not rushing Jag, my trainer's just letting him tell her when he's ready to take on the tougher stuff. Right now he's building up muscle and stamina, and getting used to the new life he's living.

Remember that they're like teenagers at this point...often their attitudes are more on play and having fun than working, so you'll have to feel out where he's at mentally and go from there.

Just remember that slow and steady will be much better for him in the long run, than rushing things along.

Good luck! [big Grin]

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