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2 year old learning about snaffle

I’m trying to do some homework to get my 2 year old ready when she goes off for training next year. I have a headstall and mild snaffle bit that Im introducing her to. Does anyone try to ground drive their 2 year old with a snaffle and does it help much with getting a headstart for the trainer? My girl sure has come a long way since she was untouched as a weanling. She is now a little shadow and tries to hard to do every thing right. I’m 65 and this is my 8th weanling but it’s been a while since I have worked with one. I’m having so much fun.


I do - you can start by just using a lightweight surcingle to run the lines through. And if they are strong enough to wear a regular saddle, then you just run the driving lines through the stirrups. You have knocked off two major training steps - getting accustomed to the saddle, and basic direct reining. They should learn the basic turn left, turn right, walk forward, whoa, and back and can do it without any issues.

I tend to ground drive mine more out in the open, and in straight lines more than circles in a round pen - the round pen can become a crutch where they don’t have to listen carefully, but if you’re out in the middle of an open area and just want them to walk forward, or make a nice slow turn in a certain direction, they have to really think about what you’re asking and essentially learn to follow their nose, which you are guiding and directing, instead of a corral panel curve. Large circles work better for trotting and loping, but I still do that out in the open once they get used to moving at faster speeds under saddle.

I also ground drive mine all over the neighborhood - past trash cans, mailboxes, barking dogs - whatever you can find to that might scare them under saddle, use it to scare them while you’re still on the ground so you have more control and can better teach them to be brave with new and scary objects. Plus, you’re much less likely to get hurt if they spook while you’re on the ground instead of in the saddle.


You have to teach her what the bit means before you can ground drive with lines attached to it. If there’s any question, you can put the bit in, but use a halter over it to attach the lines to. Don’t try to steer and potentially rein in an anxious moment with a bit she doesn’t understand, snaffle or not

If a trainer is fixated on a headset, find another trainer. Head position is a function of what’s going on behind the rider. Any good trainer will understand that. They’ll either pick up where you left off, fix what you mess up, or teach everything from scratch, depending on what they find


Headstart, not headset! :wink:

Yes, it helps the trainer. But, don’t expect the trainer to start where you left off. They will want to do a work through of all the skills to make sure you didn’t miss anything, or attach a different response to a common cue.


Ground driving is an excellent way for them to learn how to turn and stop before you get on. The best thing is to put the bridle and bit ( no reins) on over the rope halter and while teaching her to ground drive just hook to the halter and get her driving well. I also never run the lines through the stirrups.

Once she is going and turning and stopping off the halter then drive off the bit. That is just how I do it. Then you aren’t in their mouth as they get the basics and they can concentrate easier on moving forward.

I really prefer halter over bridle, because bridle over halter makes things fit weirdly from the bridle perspective.


I actually meant to include a note about teaching her to give to the bit before putting her in driving lines, and failed to do so. But yes, no point in driving if they don’t understand how to give to pressure. That’s the first step, with both halter and bridle. Verbal cues are a biggie in my book too - Walk! Trot! Whoa! Back! all need to be responded to immediately before driving, so the bit pressure can be translated from the verbal cues.


That is why a rope halter works best ( at least for me) as there is so much less bulk.

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Ask your trainer what they want.

Honestly, some trainers would prefer not to have to UNDO bad habits that an owner has taught them and prefer a clean slate. If you, inadvertantly, teach your horse to brace to that snaffle and not understand how to be soft to pressure, you just made your trainer’s job harder. So it really boils down to your experience and your knowledge.


I completely agree, even though I ground drive all the colts I start. (it really helps the stingy ones)

The cowhorse trainers I’ve sent colts off to prefer little handling, the less the better.
The trainer I have my futurity colt with likes them untouched, ran loose off the trailer delivered to his facility.
So with that said, I’d ask before getting carried away thinking you’re doing your horse and trainer a favor.