The muzzle is gently pushing your arm. You find a treat from your pocket and look at your future best friend – completely and utterly in love. You cannot wait to get him home. To start building that special bond and educate this young horse. This is how it is with the young horses – a romantic process where you show the way, and they follow you wherever you go. Or is it? We have gathered a list of things that we, at Malgré Tout Media, would have loved to know before we bought a young horse. Perhaps you can use it, if you are considering having a young one in your stable?
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It is a very special day, when you bring out your foal or young horse from the trailer, and your journey together is about to begin. But wait, why is it not walking with you? That is easy to answer, because it has never learned how. It has, most likely, just followed the other horses in the herd to and from a stable or feeding stations. It takes a considerable amount of time to teach a horse to follow you in the lead rope.
You have to look at your young horse and accept the fact that it knows nothing at all. Everything is brand new. It all, of course, depends on the amount of training it has been through at the breeder, but most likely not a whole lot. You cannot expect that it, depending on age, knows how to lift its hoofs, or is used to walking beside you. You have to start from scratch.
Just bringing your horse in from the field can be a longsome affair. The horse wants to sniff everything on the way - young ones are very curious. They might also test you a bit. Do you actually mean what you say when you ask it to walk with you to the stable? Perhaps it needs pee, then get a sip of water, or eat some grass even he is not supposed to, and oh yes, it also itches behind his ear. And by the way, who says that you need to walk with a good pace. You can also walk from one side of the rope to the other in a zig-zag formation. Or take tiny baby steps until you once again come to a completely stand still.
There is a reason for the name “plag” for young horses in both Denmark, Sweden and Holland. The noun means a nuisance which describes pretty well what a young horse can be sometimes. Besides pinching you in the ear, it can also be quite pushy, and pretty annoying to the other, older horses in the field. This often leaves your little “baby” with several scratches, but do not worry, he'll get past it.
You are so excited on your way home from the stable. Today you and your horse went for the first walk together, and your lovely young one was so cool. The next day you practise loading in a trailer, and he just waltz straight up. Yes, this is great, but every great experience can be forgotten the next day. One day he is super and the next day there is no connection between the two of you. Just remember, that tomorrow is always a new day to learn and get to know each other.
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You probably dream about the first time you get to sit on your young horse. However, getting there is a very long way. Depending on the breed, most horses are being prepered to in around three years of age, and for the coldblooded horses this can be closer to five years old.
If you have had the horse since it was a foal you have a long way to go before riding is even an option. Therefore, you need to be aware that you will walk several long walks, you will most likely be so tired of groundwork when you finally sit on your horse that the tarpaulin will be thrown away. It can be difficult to continue finding new, and creative training for your horse. The best thing is just to accept it, and the days you are not motivated for training give the horse a kiss and a long hug instead.
As long as you do not get nervous or insecure most training will be fine. But you probably also have difficult things that you do not enjoy the training. Teaching a horse to be alone, is one of the hard ones. But something you have to do, otherwise your life together with your horse will become vey exhausting.
Horses are herd animals and flight animals. So when you remove it from its herd you remove it from its naturally instinct, which is sticking to the herd. Therefore, you should start very slowly. Perhaps just place it in the stable alone with a bucket of feed or take a quick trip to the yard and then back to the herd. Later, you can build up the time the horse is alone.
It is never preferable to be in a hurry especially not if you are working with a youngster. No days are the same. One day a walk last 15 minutes other days your horse refuses to pass a pile of dirt – you never know. If you have to be somewhere at a specific time you will put an unnecessary amount of stress on your horse. Instead, do something, you know for sure it can manage with the time you have available.
When you own a young horse, you also become the primary person for him. Perhaps he has only known the breeder before you, so you are all he can turn to when he is in doubt, confused, insecure or just in need of some attention. You are the mentor, something a young horse really needs. It is a unique experience to witness your horse pick you over all others because he has so much trust in you. When this sweet muzzle touches your cheek, we promise you, your heart will melt.