Building A Young Horse Training Plan [From Day #1]

This is the first of many posts where I’m going to outline Rudy’s training journey with me! In this post, I’m going to talk about his first two days at his new stable and how I decided what I was going to work on first with him. 

At the end I’ll talk about the “young horse training plan” I put together for Rudy and some important notes when building training plans that I’ve learnt for young horses from Rudy.

how do you train a young horse

Rudy’s Training Journey: 

I brought Rudy home on Saturday in mid-January, 2021. He’s my first young horse; a 4-year-old gelding who has only been under saddle a few months so he’s quite green. 

Rudys First Day Home
Rudy’s First Day At Home!

He was pretty awesome and calm his first day at his new home. The owner of the barn where I’m boarding him at and I were waiting for him outside the stables. Fortunately, I was able to arrange a flat fee transportation of Rudy for a very reasonable 500$ from his previous home over 3 hours away. 

I was SO excited when the trailer pulled in.

I had asked Rudy’s previous trainer (she had worked with him for the 2 months prior to my purchase) to bring some food with her so he had a couple days worth of feed to tie him over and slowly make the adjustment incase the brands that we got him weren’t exactly the same. Also this way the trainer was able to show us exactly how much he was getting. 

Getting A Young Horse Settled in A New Place

Rudy was SO curious about everything in this new place. The trainer lead him out of the trailer directly into his new stall. He was going to be sharing a stall for the first month with the stallion at the barn (while the stallion was outside during the day, Rudy would be kept in the stall and vice versa). 

The point behind this was so that he could get used to the barn, his new environment and me without getting to overwhelmed with all the other horses. While he was outside, he was kept in a seperate paddock for this very same reason. 

On the Saturday he arrived, I just took Rudy for a walk around the indoor arena. He was a little bit spooked by the mirrors, the different sounds of the wind and on alert when another horse came into the arena. After our quick walk (not longer than 5 minutes or so) I put him in his stall. I hung out with him for a while, gave him some carrots and then headed out. I had a lot to buy and I really wanted to give him some time to acclimatize to his new surroundings. 

Figuring Out What To Work On  

When putting together my young horse training plan for Rudy, I needed to see what was important to work on for him in the beginning. So, I came back the next day (Sunday) hoping to do a little bit of work with him.

I took Rudy out to the arena to work on some in hand work. I did manage to get the bridle on him; however, it was not easy. It took about 4 good tries and some struggling up and down the aisle of the stables to get it on. The trainer had told me that she had never had any issues tacking Rudy up so I was thinking to myself at the time that it was just me. 

Regardless, I put it on my list of what to start working on. I was hoping that it would turn out to be a quick fix though. A matter of Rudy getting used to me and feeling more settled and relaxed in his new environement.

While leading Rudy on the ground, he was quite forwards. 

I had to be mindful not to start playing tug-of-war with him. Instead, I thought about the way I used my aids. 

When moving forwards, I would always start leading him with a kiss (my voice cue to walk forwards) followed immediately afterwards by me walking. If he didn’t follow, I would apply steady pressure to the reins and if he didn’t move forwards, I would then follow that up a wave from my lunge whip. 

When stopping (this is what Rudy had issues with), I would first use a voice command of “woah” in a low voice. Then I would stop immediately afterwards. If he didn’t stop with me and his attention was all over the place, I would give him a few quick tugs on the reins to remind him that I was there. 

One thing I was NOT EXPECTING at all was Rudy’s love of rolling. 

Rudy happily rolling in the arena. He especially loves to rub his head in the sand as shown in this picture!
Rudy happily rolling in the arena. He especially loves to rub his head in the sand as shown in this picture!
Rudy rolling during free-roaming time in the arena.
Rudy rolling during free-roaming time in the arena.

He had no issue plopping down right next to me while I was doing in hand work and rolling. He did that at least 3-4 times that day! I was not prepared mentally at all for that so I didn’t stop him. It was only after I went home and reflected on it that I realized I needed to ensure I didn’t allow rolling during our “working time”. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean I was never going to let Rudy roll. In fact, I made a point of leaving time in upcoming training session plans to allow him to roam free and roll. 

Towards the end, Rudy’s head was tossing and he was reacting to bit contact.  

While doing the work in hand, there’s always some take and soften of the inside rein while asking the horse to stretch over the topline. Initially Rudy didn’t seem to mind this so much but by the end of the 20-minute session, he was tossing his head and reacting to the pressure quite a bit. You can read my post on How to Calm an Anxious Horse or directly check out Will Faeber’s explanation at Art2Ride.com (he’s an expert on it!) for information on work in hand. 

How I Build My Young Horse Training Plan

In order to put together Rudy’s training plan, I decided I was going to work with him 4-5 days per week. I knew that we would need to spend at least 15 minites initially on tacking up because I could tell he wasn’t accustomed to tack yet. At this point, I didn’t have a saddle yet so I was just thinking about training for bridling and working on ground work. 

Futhermore, I could tell Rudy needed work simply leading around. This was also a good opportunity to get him walking around the indoor arena and the area outside the stables and familiarizing him with his new home. 

I wanted to start teaching him to stretch and from the first day, I could tell he had no past experience with work in hand so the main focus of each day would be on that. 

Rudy and I doing work in hand.
Rudy and I doing work in hand.

Lastly, I could tell he was jumpy in the arena and that he loved to roll. So at the end of each session, I wanted to give him time to explore and roll and maybe do some connection/liberty training with him depending on how the day went.

Rudy’s Initial Training Plan [ For Week #1] 

1 hour/day for 4-5 Days/Week 

Daily Plan: 

  1. 20 minutes: Grooming & Bridling 
  2. 20 minutes: Work in Hand 
  3. 10 minutes: Free-Roam in the Arena/Rolling/Liberty 
  4. 10 minutes: Leading & Exploring 

Important Notes About Horse Training Plans 

My training plan for Rudy is likely to change every single week. It’s not ever going to be the same. The idea behind this post is to illustrate the fact that I’m building my training plan for Rudy for the week based on issues that I’m seeing pop up in his training. 

That being said, if Rudy takes the bit on the first try on Day 1 and I can bridle him in 1 minute than I won’t work more on that. But let’s say he was horrible to lead to the arena and pulling all over the place. I would spend maybe 20 minutes working on leading as opposed to 10. 

The important thing I think is to be flexible. If you’re too rigid with your expectations, it can lead to a lot of frustration. Trust me, I’ve been there! 

Keep reading on for Week # 1 -> How Do You Teach A Horse To Accept A Bridle?

Other Posts About Rudy’s Training Journey You Might Enjoy: 

Happy riding,

Martina

Building A Young Horse Training Plan [From Day #1] 7

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Building A Young Horse Training Plan [From Day #1]

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