In the last blog post I introduced you to Alex and her lovely three year old filly, Kalipso. Within days of starting Kali under saddle, Alex was out riding safely on the trail. If your baby has a good start they can be safely and successfully introduced to the wonders of the world early on.
Last week I watched Kali wander past a bed frame on the side of the road, sheltered by a giant umbrella, and filled with pumpkins and squash as a roadside display.
She didn’t even take a sideways glance at it!
In Kali’s case she had been lead, ponied and driven out on the trail at different stages of life, even as a foal. It’s not necessary to do all of those things, but I’m sure that in Kali’s case it has an impact on her quiet attitude. If you take your young horse out early on in their training they leave the farm more confidently and it doesn’t occur to them to get barn sour. They just accept trails as a regular part of their interactions with you.
It’s fundamental that when you start your horse you spend the time with them on the ground so that they have complete faith and trust in you as a leader. Kali has a significant background in liberty training as well as work on the line. She also has an excellent relationship with Alex so she feels comfortable and safe out in the world. She doesn’t challenge Alex’s leadership out on the trail, because Alex has set a clear example early on in all of their training.
We’ve also taken the time to teach Kali the signals under saddle and she readily responds to going forward, slowing down, and even leg yielding over sideways. At first Kali was a bit of a slug under saddle but our first priority was to encourage Kali to step out boldly without Alex having to constantly nag her. Nagging results in either a balky horse that resents the rider or just a horse that is arduous to ride.
It was easy to teach Kali the basics under saddle because she understood the techniques on the ground in training first. Time out on the trail keeps her under saddle work interesting. Ring work can be taxing and monotonous for a young horse. Keep your sessions short and fun!
The trail is a better place to work on conditioning. In Kali’s case she is only three years old so she has light sessions in the ring combined with light sessions out on the trail and will soon have the remainder of the winter off. In these photos she has her bridle on, but is being ridden off of her halter. She has been trained to respond to both from the ground.
I like my green horses to see lots of new things early on and to accept them as part of life. I ride past bikes, real estate signs and cars. As long as the foundation in your training and your own skills is strong, you can feel safe and have fun out in the wilderness within the first month of riding.