Gentle breaking a horse for riding
Gentle breaking any horse
Horse breaking choices
There are two ways to deal with a horse, one works well the other causes more problems than it is worth. Being gentle, handling colts often, then gentle breaking them works best. They build a trust with the person who handles them which will last a lifetime.
The other is forcing the horse to your will. This does not work well as every animal including the human animal will rebel when they are forced. Horses can be forced to obey they will however end up resenting you and act up way more often.
Gentling and gentle breaking takes time, it can be done with just the horse and the eventual individual rider however this takes more time than is necessary. Is best done with more than one person with already trained horses very close.
Like with human children “monkey see monkey do” comes into play. When a horse sees someone doing something to one horse, without that horse showing fear, they will want the same done to them, especially if treats are given. This is when you should be training the horse to accept a halter.
When you are spending time with the horse daily and as young as possible the horse should see you putting halters on other horses. Spend time brushing and petting the colts head. Give treats often at this point. Use varied treats to find out which one the colt likes best. Make sure you have this available when you are halter training. In my life, there was never a time the colt took a halter the first time it was tried. Have patience; even so do not let it go on too long.
Once you have the colt comfortable wearing the halter, it is time to start leading. This is when to become serious with the two-horse system. Use a trained horse and the colt you are training. The first time go to the other end of the lead rope and hold up a treat. Do this with both horses. The trained horse should then start moving up to receive its treat. More often than not, the horse you are training will follow suit. If not, move a little closer. Do make sure the colt has to move to receive the treat. in a short while the colt will lead well.
As soon as the colt reaches full head size, bridle training should begin. Use the least restrictive bit possible. You should never have to use a restrictive bit. This should be done the same way only with a treat that the colt can handle with a bit it its mouth. Leading and the colt learning to do direction movement should be done before you ever put a saddle on. Once it is bit trained the same style of bit should always be used.
Every time in my life while gentle breaking there were always other horses right there, the first step is to lean on all the horses while brushing them, then just anytime. Find small things (an old coat works well) to put on their back, making sure to put it on the horse already trained first, then give treats to both horses. When they tolerate the small thing well, move on to the saddle blanket. The horse should now accept this with no problem, if they balk go back to the smaller thing again for a while.
Once they take the saddle blanket it’s time to start adding some of your weight to their back. This can be done by working from a stool, brushing the horse while leaning over them is a good way to do this. Just make sure you can move away from the horses back quickly. Once you can do this without the horse balking it’s time to start putting things around them, from the back around the belly. This gets them used to the idea of a cinch. In my experience his generally takes the longest. Brushing the horse the several times as you try this is a great idea.
Once this can be done comfortably it's time for the saddle. The best way is for the horse to see other horses being saddled as often as possible at this point in time. Riding other horses close by should also be done at this time.
Horse with saddle
Ready to ride
When time to start riding began we always worked with three horses two of which should already be well broke. We sandwiched the new horse between them and tightened up once the rider was mounted. This can be dangerous if any fear is shown and not recommended for a beginner.
In my experience the horse will now move as the others do without bucking or otherwise acting up. As the other horses turn right or left move the reins in the appropriate direction and if you want the horse to follow toe commands use them at this time also. Following these suggestions will give you a horse who trusts you and is more obedient. Horses like people are capable of love and in reality because you have remained gentle the horse has a relationship close to love with you. Breaking a horse gently for riding will have forged a relationship between you and the horse which will last a lifetime.
Photo courtesy of Oregon.gov