Exciting times lays ahead! Petronella and Rivella turn three this year and it is time to start their education to become future riding horses and introduce them under saddle. For us, the overall goal with the first part of training young horses is to ride them in walk and trot, teach them the meaning of “start and stop” and to go left and right on the given signal. It’s very basic stuff, and we have absolutely no stress in this phase and in regards of the time it will take to get to the final goal. It is completely dependent on the individual horse. Petronella and Rivella are two very different horses and have already shown that they deal with things in their own ways. See a video from their 2nd attempt on the lunge at the end of the post!
Petronella is the fearless, determined and somewhat stubborn young lady. She clearly shows what she thinks about different situations with her body language, and she is in general a very communicative horse. In many ways she can be a challenge in the initial stage of education. Especially from a safety perspective for us humans, we need to have respect for her active (and completely normal for a horse) way of communication. Petronella needs to be handled with a pinch of coolness and an large doze of understanding for her extrovert personality. She will protest when she doesn’t want to be in a situation or don´t understand the point of it- for example, running around in circles on the lunge. Her rear hoofs have been quite much up in the air the furst times on the lunge, but the more times we train her and she understand what we ask of her, the more focused she is starting to be on the task! And we know that when she likes something, she’s an angel! Just watch the video below from when she got groomed by our interns earlier this fall.
In my opinion, the advantage of a horse like Petronella is that she is an easy horse to understand. In addition she is very passionated about things she like (such as candy, cuddles and being brushed). When we get Petronella into the right mental track with training and make education into something she think is fun, she will be the one who gives 100%. Petronella grows a couple of inches every time she gets praise and rewards and we make sure she gets tons of it!!
Rivella is Petronella’s opposite. Rivella is the kindest horse on the planet accepting almost everything we ask of her, just because we ask her. Her trust in humans is remarkable and she always turn to us for support in situations that are new and make her feel insecure. She is more introvert than Petronella and it is not always as easy to understand what Rivella thinks. She often stands and waits for us at the gate to their pasture, seeks contact and observes what we are doing. I don’t experience Rivella that dependent on her herd, in the way that young horses often can be. She undoubtedly wants to have a lot of human contact and many times I feel that she tries really hard to understand us and what we want from her. The clip below shows the first time we put a saddle girth on her, she couldn’t care less as long as she got to cuddle.
When I think about Rivella, I almost get tears in my eyes because of the trust and confidence she has in humans. She is a horse that I find taking thinks serious and is very thoughtful. High work ethics is a sentence that comes to mind when I think of how Rivella will grow into the role as a riding horse. Sometimes we talk about one-man-horses, and even though Rivella is the kindness itself to most people, I think she chooses the one who becomes “her” human. That person she will go through fire for.
This post ended up being a majority of personality describptions. But for me, this is one of the core topics when it comes to educating a young horse. To think about and adjust my training plan according to how my horse is handling things mentally. In this way I believe we create horses with self-confidence and joy for the work we ask them to do. I also believe this is the fundation of getting a safe horse for us humans that we can trust in different situations.
I have made a plan for the process I will put them through during the winter and spring. How long time it will take to come to the ends of these steps, are as mentioned before up to Petronella and Rivella. I think it is important to find the right balance between being inside and outside their comfort zones. If we never push them outside their comfort zone, it will take a very long time to go through these steps. But if we push them to fast out of the comfort zone asking too much too soon, it will not build the foundation of joy and self-confidence in the work that is so important for us.
This is our believes and as we know, we all have our own way of doing things that works for us. For me, this first part of education is more of a mental journey for the horse than buildning strength and muscles. That part we will have plenty of time to do with time and we want them to stay happy and healthy until they grow old and grey, let´s not rush it with the young horse.
The plan for winter/spring
- Put voice commands in lunging. Slower pace, Higher Pace in walk, trot and eventually canter
- Parallel to the above, get used to equipment, saddle and bridle
- When it feels safe, hang on their backs and and sit on them. I prefer to do this in their pasture without equipment (someone holding the halter) and with the herd around us giving support.
- connect 1 + 2 when both feel OK
- connect 3+4 when both feel OK (walk and trot)
- Quite quickly go from point 5 to riding loose in the paddock so there is not so much training on the circle.
- Possibly shorter hacks outside the paddock in safe company when they feel ready for it
- Then we are satisfied!We plan to breed both Petronella and Rivella during the spring. After that, next step is to prepare them for the inspection to enter the studbook of KFPS in end of august. That training will mainly be done from the ground and I will take that opportunity to introduce them to the work on long-lines. I plan to give them all of June completely off, but then start the long-line training in July. During Winter/Spring/Summer and regardless of training method, we train them maximum 3 times per week and not more than 20 minutes at a time. Their bodies shall last for many years and recovery is the most important thing for the young horses.
Above we have the basic plan, then we’ll see what happens. It will certainly be adjusted a couple of times along the way!