Yes, they are children. They are horse children. They had a mother and a father and we estimate that horses develop about four years to our one year of life. So, this means that starting the breaking process of a two year old is about the same as dealing with an eight year old child. Now that you have that information, don’t forget it and base your actions towards your horse always keeping this in mind. People have a tendency to feel that because a horse is big and strong, that they are mature. NOT. Some young horses will try to play games with you and out smart you on a minute to minute basis. Young horses are quick to temper or quick to respond in a negative way. If your young horse has been handled from birth and has grown to be a very quiet individual, things can change the minute you try to get on their back. Long ago, I had a young two year old Appendix horse. Every day of his life he walked up and down the same path starting when he was at his mothers’ side. Well, now that I was on his back, you would have thought that he had never seen that road before. Jumping, spooking and snorting at every little thing possible. This is not to say that your sweet, quiet colt or filly will not be accepting of you on their back. I am just saying that you can never be one hundred percent sure.
Different breeds of horses usually have horseman that follow different procedures for breaking their young. Draft horses are not even considered for breaking until about three or four years of age, because of their size and slow development. The thoroughbred racing industry starts to break their horses at 18 months of age. This is because of them being so high strung and difficult to break. After about two or three months of breaking, they should be turned out for a few months and allowed to grow. Usually quarter horses are broken at 2 years. So you would know what the procedure is for your breed of horse and I would suggest that you follow their lead. Of course it does not matter what breed it is, if they have been handled from birth, your job is going to be much easier and probably the learning process will take less time. Remember that what you are about to do with your horse is something new to him or her at each step. Make sure that your young horse understands each step before you move onto the next. Trust is a big player in the process of breaking a horse. If they trust you on the ground, then they will probably trust you to get on their backs. Teaching them how to go forward and then helping them to wrap their brains around that concept is a major milestone. Once they really understand that, then the rest should come easily and quickly. Also, if you can break horses with at least two or more at a time, this will speed up the learning process. Lets say you are breaking four babies together. Out of those four, one of them is going to pick up this concept much quicker than the other three and they will more than likely follow his or her lead.
Keeping your lessons short, sweet and to the point is key. Remember, we are dealing with eight year old minds. Their attention span is probably within a ten to fifteen minute period. You will be surprised at the amount they can learn in those few minutes but you must do this on an almost daily basis. Once you lose their attention, and you continue to push, you will take the risk of taking out instead of putting in. Each and every day should be about positive input. If you make this a pleasant experience with your patience and understanding, then there should be no reason that they will object to experience this for yet another day and a day after that. Actually, if they think it is fun, well then, lets have at it. Yahoo! This is just a prelude into the art of breaking a horse properly. I cannot explain it to you in just one article. So the next part of this journey is soon to come.