Now the journey has begun. You have a baby that has learned to accept the bit, go forward while being driven, accept strange things touching their sides and rump, learning small amounts of voice commands and accepting a saddle on their backs not to mention that annoying girth that really does not feel all that great. The next step is to get on their back. Probably most horses, if they accept human beings as their friend, will be fairly open to allowing you to climb aboard. For the few that really do not think that it is a good idea, your expertise will be necessary to help them to understand that this will be a part of their life and if they object a little, that is fine, but do not get carried away.
Again, make sure your stall has a considerable amount of bedding in it. Take your filly or colt into the stall with halter and shank attached.Put your horse facing the same way as every other day. Put on the bridle except now you will have reins attached to the bit. Put your saddle onto the horse and tighten a little, walk your baby around the stall once or twice. This is where you definitely need a good horseman at the head of your horse. After a few turns, tighten your girth up more and maybe one more turn. Stand your horse in the usual spot, horse holder on the left side in between the horse’s head and the rider who is standing facing the saddle on the horse’s back. Have the rider gather the reins; the horse holder is going to give the rider a lift up over the horse’s back but only gently laying across the saddle. This is called bellying them. If the horse is ok, while the horse holder is still holding onto the rider’s left leg with his or her right hand, they need to keep a good hold onto the baby’s head and ask the horse to go forward moving around in the stall. If the horse misbehaves, the rider can slide off and you can walk the horse around the stall one or two times and try again. Some babies will get a hump in their back which means they are getting ready to start bucking, so move the baby several turns one way, then several turns the opposite way if the rider feels comfortable with you letting go of their leg. Now have the rider slide off, pat the horse and talk to the horse directly and maybe get back up one or two more times depending on how your horse is reacting. When you feel that you have accomplished your lesson for the day, untack and give your horse big words of approval and you are done. Turn your baby back out or give them a nice flake of hay. Remember to keep it short, sweet and to the point. Make sure that you have their attention at every step. This way your input will make an impact as long as you do not make the lessons too long and boring. Small amounts of learning each day will have big rewards in the end result. Knowing the difference makes the difference.
The next day follow the same procedure and if your horse seems unaffected by all of this, let the rider come back down and go back up slowly but this time sit on the horses back. Take a few spins around the stall, both ways. If your horse is very quiet, and does not have a hump in their back, if the rider feels confident, take the shank off and let the horse holder leave the stall and close the door. Now it is up to the rider to keep the baby going forward and help them to understand that rider up means going forward. Now the driving that you did will come into play. Do some easy figure eights in the stall. About five minutes of that is plenty. So, if the horse decides to cut a buck, there is not very far to go and the rider can stay in control. Ok, five minutes are up, horse holder back in the stall, snap on shank, take the tack off, big pat and maybe even a hug and perhaps some excited words for the student.
Repeat this the next day, if the horse is responsive, have the horse holder lead the baby out of the stall with the rider on, just be careful and go slow. Depending on whether you have a shed row which I think is the best for young horses or a paddock, the first day you should keep the horse holder at the horse’s head. The next day if the rider feels comfortable, then turn the baby loose after a few turns around the shed or in the paddock. This is when having more than one horse being broken is greatly to your advantage. There will be a leader and the others will follow as a general rule. Well, I have gotten you to the paddock with rider on your horse’s back. I will be back shortly to continue with the next step in breaking and educating your horse.