Training an Older Horse – Where to Start

Typically, horse training starts at an early age. Most people believe that when a horse becomes older, training becomes too difficult. But if you ask me, that’s a myth! You shouldn’t believe it. A horse can be trained at any age. So let’s talk about training an older horse!

Whether it is a newborn horse or a mature horse, you can always do some kind of training – with a little effort, that is.

To help you with the training of a younger horse, I’ve written a detailed blog post. But some of the lessons in it are applicable at any age – so I would definitely recommend checking it out.

Anyhow, back to the topic of this blog post! If you want to know how you can train an older horse, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve trained a few older horses myself, and I’ve also done a fair amount of research. That said – if I’ve missed anything, you can definitely comment and let me know!

Why You Should Train an Older Horse


Most trainers prefer training younger horses. A young horse is like a blank page – you can make your mark, and have full control over what your horse learns. But older horses have some advantages. Because they have more experience, they may learn new skills more easily. I’ve also found that many older horses have a positive attitude towards new things.

Due to this attitude, they have the ability to stay calm during difficult situations. Not always, but most of the time. This can mean that they take less time in training as compared to younger horses.

Why you should train an older horse

Another advantage of having an older horse is that you can easily buy it on affordable price.

If you love horses but you do not have the budget for a younger horse, then I would suggest you buy an older horse. You’ll still be able to train him. All you have to do is put in some effort and time and you will be seeing the results in no time.

An older horse usually has a longer attention span as compared to a younger horse. You can train him in depth and he’s more likely to remember your lessons. This makes the training period shorter as compared to a training period for younger horses.

Training an Older Horse – Where to Start


So, the first question is where to start if you have an older horse and want to train him. If your horse is untrained, the first step to training him is to create a relationship between the two of you. In order to obey your commands, your horse needs to trust.

You can establish this relationship of trust by doing things like playing with your horse, touching and petting him, and talking to him. Horses are flight animals.

This means that they can get scared easily and once scared, they become defensive – you really want to avoid that. So go slowly. There are also many simple exercises that can help you to develop a good relationship with your horse. You can read about three of my favourites here.

Training an older horse

It is important that your horse knows you and understand that you are not a threat to him. Once he starts trusting you and being comfortable with you, then the training process will become so much easier.

Please keep in mind that you should not hurry while doing this. It is important to give your horse a little extra time as compared to a younger horse.

Introduce Your Horse to the Saddle


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After some time when you think your horse is ready, introduce him to the saddle. Just like the above step, do this process slowly. Don’t rush. Training them under the saddle is very important. Once you are done with these steps, then you can start training him for riding.

If you are afraid, you can also ask somebody more experienced to ride your horse at first. But this should not be a problem. Riding will be easy if your horse is comfortable with their saddle.

Try not to lose hope. If your horse is taking a long time to learn, that is perfectly okay. It all depends on the horse. Some horses take longer to be trained and some horses can be trained within a short period of time.

Conclusion

Training a horse is not an easy task at any age. You have to put a lot of effort into it to see the results. Therefore, I would say that training an older horse is also similar to training a younger horse. Though it may be a bit difficult, it is still possible – and it can be really rewarding.

The first step to training an older horse is to develop a relationship with him. It is a misconception that training an older horse is difficult. The reality is the exact opposite. Older horses are quick learners and therefore they can easily be trained.

Please comment below and share your experience with older horses! And let me know if you have any questions, of course.

Good luck and happy riding! 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Training an Older Horse – Where to Start”

  1. I bought a 15 year old Paso Fino gelding last July. Totally not treained. He ran with his mother for the first 3 years of his life then he was caught a brought to Minnesota.
    The people bought him for stud, but never used him and he was just gelded 6 years ago. They never did a thing with him. I got him in July, and gave him a few days to settle in and then started some ground work with him. He is doing good. Then my eyes went to heck after a couple of cataract surgeries, and I ended up with bad corneas and went blind in one eye and couldn’t see much out of the other. I’m 76. Training was put on hold, but I developed a wonderful relationship with the horse. He is a people lover, but doesn’t like a lot of touching. yet. He tried to bite when we first got him, and had a lot of food anxiety. He is so much better now.. I have been on him since March, bareback, as I don’t have a saddle yet. I don’t feel like putting metal in his mouth at his age, so have been using the “Bitless bridle”.
    He is getting used to being touched. He also stands for trimming. I get nickers in the morning. I’m in love!

    Reply
    • Hi Judy,

      This is a lovely story! I’m so sorry to hear about your eyes but that’s amazing that you’ve developed this bond with him. My gelding Rudy was also quite nippy and I find that just playing with his muzzle every time he comes to engage really helps – maybe try that out if you’re still having issues with

      Reply
  2. Very encouraging. Thank you Judy. I’m 67 and have a mare that is rising 9 years old. I’ve had her since she was a weanling and she’s been well handled. In fact I’ve done everything with her except actually ride her. Judy being older than me and having so much success with her older horse has truly given me inspiration. I have a great bond with the mare and she’s very gentle and loving. I’m going to ride her. I know I’ll be ok. Thank you 😊

    Reply

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