Young Horse Training

young horse in pasture


A young horse is akin to a child who is naïve and immature. With training, patience and energy must be spent on young horses in order to encourage focus and learning. Begin training a young horse before it reaches 4 years of age and develops an exceptionally strong will. Limit training sessions to 30 minutes. With a short attention span and a remarkably playful spirit, a young horse soon becomes bored and loses interest. Keeping in mind a few training tips is essential to your success.

Bonding and Trust

Become familiar with the natural body movements of your horse before beginning any training exercises. This will help you understand how to best communicate with your horse. Once your horse feels safe with you, training will be easier. To gain trust, be sure you are the only one feeding and grooming your horse. Spend time each day talking softly and stroking your horse as a way to show that you mean no harm.

Keep Your Cool

One of the worst things that can occur when working with young horses is to lose your poise. Although it is remarkably easy to become frustrated, maintaining your composure helps keep the horse collected and on task. Expect that the horse is going to make mistakes and remember that you are the teacher and the horse is the student. Your only goal is to help the horse understand what you are trying to teach it. Chances are, if your horse is doing something wrong, you are not conveying information in a way that it understands. Pay careful attention to your horse's response to your cues and make adjustments to your delivery if necessary. Remember, having fun makes training more enjoyable for both you and your horse.

Ground Manners

Begin young horse training with ground manners. A horse should lead right alongside you without rushing ahead or dragging behind. Other essential ground manners to teach a young horse include stopping and backing up on the lead line, and moving hindquarters and forequarters on command. These foundational exercises are critical to training and should not be overlooked or undervalued.

Tack Training

No matter what your horse's job will be, tack training is a necessity! Begin by putting on the saddle and bridle before each training session. This will familiarize the horse with the equipment. Conduct your entire training session with the tack on so the horse knows how it feels. Your horse may not be happy with the tack training at first but will soon become accustomed to it if you are consistent with its use.

Discipline Training

Once basic ground manners and tack training have been successfully taught, you can begin discipline training. If you want a safe trail riding mount, consider working a young horse through a series of trail obstacles. Horses that will be used for English riding will need to be taught how to properly longe. Introduce new skills one at a time and do not rush your young horse. This will only complicate the training.

Safety Tips

  • Always conduct a training session in a safe enclosure with solid footing
  • Use only high-quality equipment
  • Ask a friend or family member to watch your training session in case of an accident
  • Ask for help from someone with training experience if you become frustrated