What Age to Start Riding Horses

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Age to Start Riding

    2006 Cherry Hill     www.horsekeeping.com

Dear Cherry,
     I have a yearling Quarter Horse colt that is approximately 14 hands and pretty stocky build...when can I start to break and ride him?  B

Hi B,

     A yearling should receive a thorough ground training program including good in-hand manners, longeing, trailer loading and good behavior for all grooming (including bathing) and health care (including hoof care.)

     When you have accomplished all of that, you can saddle and bridle the horse in his two year old year and continue the longeing training and even add long-lining.

     I generally don't ride young horses until they are 2 1/2 years old (usually the fall of their two year old year) for only a few rides just to give them the idea of what will come later.

     Then I resume riding training in their 3 year old year.

     Some trainers start horses under saddle as "long yearlings" which means about 18-24 months and others routinely ride 2 year olds to ready them for futurities etc.

     However, I have found that horses stay sound longer if they are not worked too early or too hard too early.

     When you start your horse will depend on many factors which you will have to weigh. In my situation, I always have plenty of mature horses to ride and am not preparing young horses for futurities and I have had great success with long-term soundness by using the program outlined above.   In fact, in some cases, I don't start riding horses until their four year old year (but they have extensive ground training) and things still go very well and the horses are sound as very old horses. Be sure to read my books How to Think Like a Horse, Making Not Breaking, Longeing and Long Lining the English and Western Horse and 101 Longeing and Long Lining Exercises. They describe my entire training program in detail and give you many useful exercises you can do with your horse.

     Good luck,




  2006 Cherry Hill 

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