First Steps in Training a Young Horse, an OTTB, or a Highly Sensitive Horse
Posted on June 29 2017
Throw out your expectations and be happy with a hard tried response from your horse. Then Reward...BIG!
When I brought my OTTB gelding home he was fresh and I was naive. This is definitely not the combination success or dreams are made of. Thankfully, I had the help of a trainer who once worked at the track, had retrained numerous ex-race horses, and had a great foundation built on classic dressage principles. The dressage helped us make leaps and bounds week by week. But lets be real...you don't get on a highly sensitive horse and expect that elusive marching walk or swinging trot without a couple of side steps or crow hops to begin with. Or was that just my gelding? Ha!
So over a period of a few weeks I began to gather a strategy for how to start out our rides, or during a ride when my gelding needed a soft reminder to stay on task. I wrote these down so I could go over them periodically until they were ingrained in my mind. Using these basic training techniques in the early stages are great for a young horse, an OTTB, or a highly sensitive horse.Start with simple repetitive requests
Key Things to Remember:
- Praise goes a long with a Sensitive Horse or a Thoroughbred. In the beginning make a request. Reward him for the slightest response and this will set him up for success that builds confidence.
- Be consistent, and don't lose patience. You have to tailor your rewards to any response, not just the perfect response, from your horse.
- Don't be heavy handed or pull on his face. This only irritates and can encourage a Sensitive Horse or OTTB to "argue" with you, or worse, hang on your hands for support.
- Don’t rush ahead. Slow and steady wins the race here. Success comes in the teaching moments that ended with a big try and an enjoyable ride.
- My trainer says that a 10 minute ride with one or two successful tries is far more valuable than 45 minutes of fighting for perfection.
I hope this was helpful! It is great learning from one another - what other techniques do you use on your young or sensitive horses?
xoxo Julie of Equestrianista