Education. From the time we are born (humans) we are getting an education. Our parents teach us all kinds of things. Then we go off to school and learn some more. By the time we're done with school, we have learned how to drive a car. Those of us kids who fall in love with horses begin learning any and everything we can about them and most can recite every bone in a horses body by the time they are 16.
Then there are those late bloomers, people who start later in life with horses. They learn as much as they "want" to, and after a couple of years they think they're close to experts. They have their horses in scantly made corrals lined with mixed boards, poles and chain link fence. Or I'll give some the benefit of the doubt and say they have them in nice green pastures. I'm certainly not knocking them by any means. They mean well, and do the best they can for their horses, until they start breeding them.
Now the new baby or babies are here. By six months old, these folks have got a halter on them, leading them around, saddling them. By one year a child has hopped up on them and is being lead around the yard. By two years old, they're "broke" to ride.
(Insert me banging my head against the wall here.) I don't believe there is anything out there that disturbs me more than to see countless ads on craigslist or in Facebook groups like this: "Two year old mare, broke to ride, doesn't spook, buck, rear etc."
If I had even just a penny for every one of these ads I've seen, I'd be uber rich. The fact is, these babies might be gentle, and don't have vices (yet) and I'm sure your kid had a great time being lead around the yard, but that colt isn't "broke". Green, perhaps, started under saddle, maybe, but not broke.
If you're considering going into the training business, do yourself and others a favor: get educated. Find a reputable trainer and learn all you can from that person and then find another one and learn all you can from that one. Read books, research online, do your homework on this subject.
There are many problems with the backyard trainers. First & foremost, don't start "riding" a filly or colt until they are at least three to four years old. You're not likely to be starting thoroughbred horses for racing or quarter horses for futurities. Give the babies a break and wait until their bodies are better able to handle it. Bones, muscles, tendons etc are still fusing and growing. I have no doubt many will disagree with me, but I have seen first hand what can happen from riding a colt too early and it's not pretty.
There is a difference in starting under saddle and riding. You can take a colt and teach it all kinds of things from the ground without ever putting a foot in a stirrup. You risk compromising the overall health and well being of the horse by riding it too young and for what reason? To get more money because it's "Broke to ride". What problems are you passing along to someone else who might not know any better, but think they're getting a great deal & will have this horse to ride for many years?
Bottom line, just don't do it. Wait to ride them until they are at least 3-4. A horse, no matter if it's a stud or filly isn't mature until they are 6, period. Starting them later gives them a much better chance of finding their own balance, building the muscles they need to support a riders weight and it gives their legs a chance to become strong and healthy.
If you don't really know what you're doing, get together with someone who does, and educate yourself before putting someone else's life at risk. Now I'm not saying that all backyard trainers are bad. There are some out there that do know what they are doing. If you're considering buying a horse from a backyard trainer, do your research on the person. The one thing that will save you a lot of headache in the long run is common sense. Even if you're just starting out with horses, remember: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
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