Hello, I’m new to the forum. Hope to be an active member for a long time to come.
I’ll keep it short.
I just bought a 2-year-old stallion, a mix between thoroughbred and Kabardin breed. I would like to give him the best training possible, but I don’t know how to approach the training itself. Which method should I use? I don’t want to use cruel training and submission and violent domination, but I’m not really keen on the new age tao/meditation with horse mumbo jumbo.
The people in the barn where I keep my horse and who care for him are nice people and I also purchased the horse from them. But, they don’t have any formal training, they just spend their entire lives next to horses and I think they don’t have enough knowledge or patience for training, so when a horse “misbehaves” they either scream at the horse or punish. They don’t really do any groundwork except lunging until the horse is tired and they just ride the horse a few times a week so the horse gets some exercise.
I really don’t want to follow this method-less way of dealing with my horse, I don’t want to scream and beat him, but right now the horse has SO MANY ISSUES: he is completely desensitized, doesn’t want to lunge unless I become VERY aggressive with him, tries to bite/nibble NON-STOP, has no respect for anyone, pay no attention, etc etc. I could go on.
I’m wondering what to do. I’m extremely frustrated because I feel lost and don’t know how to learn a detailed, solid, step-by-step method of training my horse and learning along.
I would greatly appreciate any tips or advice. Thank you
Short answer, sell him, you’re describing normal 2 year old behaviour. Years 2 to 6 can be long and hard as the horse grows up and learns to be a good citizen, it takes a lot of experience and often a lot of money to get to a point where you think you’ve finally got a nice horse, if ever, and even then it might turn out not to be the horse you were hoping it would be. You obviously appreciate you don’t yet have that experience so if you keep him its going to cost a lot to put him in a barn where you will have the input and support from a suitable trainer who can act as your mentor. You can’t learn the nuances and subtleties of horse training online or from books as so much of what you do depends on the horse and the moment. A much older all ready well trained horse is a much better option for those new to horse training as they all ready know what’s required and will tolerate the novice rider while they get up to speed.
First, get the colt gelded. You do not need a stallion unless you plan to breed, and you do not want to breed a cross bred horse. Your problems are only going to get worse if you continue with a stallion.
After that, two choices.
Locate a good qualified colt starter trainer in your area. Pay to have the horse trained by this person. You may need to keep the horse at the trainers barn for several months. Take lessons with the trainer. Keep the trainer on call after the horse comes home to you. Also I think you need to leave the barn you are at, unless your horse is absolutely isolated from the barn managers and you are doing all the handling. I think you need to move anyhow because you bought the horse from them, you are obviously very new to young horses and maybe horses altogether, and the barn manager is going to have authority over you just by the circumstances. Can you step in and say “stop doing that, I do it this way?” if you see the barn manager doing something you don’t like with your horse? Will the BM take instruction and direction from you and follow it in your absence? If not, get out now and go to a barn with better educated horse people. Your BM may be “nice people” socially but they are clearly idiots around horses.
Or sell the horse, maybe back to the owners, and walk away and go to another barn and buy a broke horse.
At the moment it is clear you have no idea what constitutes clear professional kind but firm horse training, as used by the better horse trainers around the world. That is fine, we all have to learn somewhere and sometime. But you need to find someone and somewhere to learn.
As a start you can look up good horsemanship trainers on line, and order some DVDs. Many folks on COTH like Warwick Schiller. I’ve gotten all my training IRL so have never needed a DVD program. This will give you an idea of the principles behind horse training, and get you over your preconception that it’s either chaotic violence or ineffective energy work or whatever. That’s the statement that tells me you don’t know much about horse training period, that and the fact you are willing to stay at the Idiot Barn and let them handle your young horse.
I don’t see any reason why this isn’t a real situation. Newbies and low end backyard breeders have unfortunately a natural affinity for each other, and all those 4 or 5 year old ungelded unbroke grade stallions for sale on Craigslist or going to auction come from this kind of situation. Long term COTH members tend to be more experienced horse owners/trainers, many advanced ammies or pros. But out in the larger backyard horse world, even on the other horse forum, this kind of situation certainly happens enough.
My sweet but opinionated mare was in fact bought at local auction by my coach years ago as a 2 year old, because she was running people over and was unmanageable at that age. People get in over their heads with young horses all the time.
The number one thing a newbie needs is to find a good mentor, and that means paying for the mentorship which will come in the form of lessons, training on the horse, and hopefully a good dose of horse sense communicated along the way. Find a good mentor, pay for the training and lessons, and then help out and shadow them as much as possible to let it all sink in.
And yes, with a two year old, get him halter broke and gelded, then put him on pasture for a couple of years. A two year old doesn’t need to longe. Bad on the joints, and they don’t have the focus to work that long or hard.
Forget the stallion part, you don’t appear to have the skills and lack any support to teach you so you can then teach the horse. Any young horse.
Somebody has to be the teacher here. Without a qualified teacher, you are not going to make any progress learning these skills let alone teaching them to the horse.
Add the stallion part back in, you get an increased possibility testosterone will kick in and create an unwilling student who is ready to say no and talk back even without being distracted by the girls. And yes he’s old enough.
You need to move him to a barn where you can get some real help which probably means he needs to be gelded to move in. And the responsible thing for a horseman to do is geld him anyway.
If you can’t do that, it’s probably a dead end for both of you and you need to find him an appropriate home where he’ll have a better chance at a long and safe life. The lower end auctions are full of horses just like him that never got a proper education so nobody wants them when they have to be sold for financial reasons ir because nobody can safely work with them.
Think about it carefully. Not trying to be mean here but the horses suffer for our bad decisions. Really think you need to surround yourself with better grade horse folks. These people don’t know enough to teach you anything. Even without paying for lessons, you can learn a great deal by watching good horsemen, most importantly that you need better help.
Hello, thank you very much for your detailed input. You’re absolutely right, I don’t have any horse training experience. I’ve been riding since 7 until 16, but never had to do any training. Recently I had a chance to come back to riding and bought my horse.
There are several issues that preclude me from following many of the very good advices you had. First off, I’m not in the US, I’m in Eastern Europe with extremely limited support base for barns, trainers, etc. I can’t just move the horse to another barn with a better trainer, as there are none in the vicinity
I’m going to seek out a trainer anyway and perhaps I will find one, but I highly doubt I can find one soon. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, pretty much everything broke down and people are scrambling right now to build everything from scratch.
So, my only option (apart form just selling the horse) is to get as much information as possible. I really don’t want to sell him, he might end up in the wrong hands and with broken legs sooner or later due to mountain racing that is popular here. Besides, I really like him.
So, I might get him gelded soon. (When is the best time?) and try to educate myself, while also seeking out a trainer locally. I like Warwick’s videos and I signed up for them.
As for the cost, I’m fine with that. It costs next to nothing to maintain a horse here and even pay someone to mentor me (if I can find someone).
First rule of standard animal husbandry with horses is to geld male colts, preferably before or during their two year old year.
That is when being entire, not castrated, start affecting temperament in a way that can make them difficult to handle and a danger to handlers and other horses by the rise and dominance of male hormones.
In the hands of experienced horse handlers, professionals, stallions appear very much like any other well trained horse when handled by trainers that know how to be proactive in teaching the kinds of manners a stallion will need.
For everyone else that doesn’t need a stallion for breeding, gelding is the proper management for male horses.
With a gelding, you still have to train properly, but gelded male horses takes one important training concern out of the way, the drive to fight and dominate other horses, on occasion by displacement aggression humans also, that can be inherent to stallions.
There are horse cultures where keeping male horses stallions is the local tradition.
If that is so where you are, well, then you should be able to find someone to help right there.
Then you are not the only one with that situation on hand, a stallion to handle and the pitfalls and liability of such in today’s human world.
Many competition colts are kept stallions until it becomes obvious that they won’t be talented enough to be used as stallions, so are gelded then.
That may happen at any later age, but they are generally managed by trainers, not the general public.
Most other colts are gelded at one year old and definitely by the start of their second year.
Being geldings makes them suitable for the general public to own and handle without the concerns and liability a stallion is.
Your veterinarian should be able to tell you how to go about gelding your colt.
You may have to consider if to try to manage the ownership and care and training of a horse by someone that doesn’t know about horse management and training is really in the best interest of the horse?
The rescue mentality, he is better with me than in other’s hands?
That also needs to be given a second thought.
Good intentions are not enough to do right for a horse without some knowledge of what is really best for the horse.
Good on you to be trying to learn more so you can do the best you may in your situation.
Most areas in Eastern Europe have recovered from Soviet oversight in the 30 years since it’s collapse but some of those areas were pretty remote, poor and badly governed to start with, Perhaps its time to consider moving closer to a more modernized area? Not for the horse, for you. You are still young and can find a better life elsewhere.
If where you is still in shambles after 30 years ? Maybe it’s something you need to think about.
But get the horse gelded ASAP. It’s not major surgery. Done right at the farm, takes 15 minutes, aftercare is walking and hosing for about a week plus some antibiotics, NBD, It will make him more trainable and easier to move to another barn or sell should the need arise.
Ah, that explains the half Kabardan (which I had to Google, and found out comes from the Caspian area).
Even if there is not a lot of organized equestrian activity in your area, you may be able to find a good horseman to help you, maybe even someone older who is no longer officially in business.
I grew up in Canada in the 1960s/70s, and in my suburb, teens raced around on their horses pretty much untaught, and there were no adult horsemen who weren’t ignorant and rough on horses (and the man that ran the so-called “show barn” went to jail in the 1980s because he had been extorting sex from teenage girls for 20 years). And this was a middle class suburb (with pockets of relative poverty and pockets of wealth). So I understand being in a place with no intelligent horse help.
I read a lot of books and learned how to train from them.
In your situation, OP, videos are great! You may not learn to do everything from them, but they will give you a standard for how to handle horses and help you evaluate the horsemen that you do see. Basically you want calm, you want consistent, you want discipline but you want kindness too.
Hi again, I’m extremely grateful for such detailed and thoughtful comments. While I can appreciate that there are countries with better infrastructure or better GDP or more stable economies in general, I still love my country and have work and family here. So, it’s neither easy nor necessary for me to move right now
I’m not a quitter and I’m going to do learn as much as I can and train this horse with or without a trainer. I know he needs lots of patience and knowledge (of course), which I’m going to seek out.
The strange thing is he is like a different horse altogether when I ride him: he is quiet but agile, responds quite well, etc etc. But on the ground he is restless, head shy, stubborn, etc.
A fun trivia from his life: when he was one month old he was attacked by wolves. He survived the attack but has multiple scars all over the neck, body and one huge scar covering half of his hind left leg. What I observed is that without any training he is not afraid of dogs, or anything that jumps out at him. He couldn’t care less for garbage bags and the usual scary stuff.
You need a mentor. Obviously a professional trainer would be ideal, but any accomplished horseman will do. If you know people who have horses, find one whose manner you want to emulate- good partnerships, well-behaved horses, etc. You can learn so much even from observation.
I would also encourage you to consider the language you choose to use when describing him. Adjectives like stubborn, disrespectful, and the like imply that this horse is trying to misbehave- which isn’t what is actually happening. He is young, confused, and doesn’t know what you want of him. Try instead to consider these issues as a lack of understanding on his part, not misbehavior, and find ways to help him understand what you want.
Hi, a book that probably saved me a lot of grief when I bought my first weanling Arabian colt, ungelded of course though I gelded him at the proper age and the results of gelding him were simply wonderful. The book “Schooling for Young Riders” by John Richard Young is a professional horseman’s adventures with a 2 yr. old ungelded pony colt. Even experienced horsemen get horses that do not care about cooperating with them. His colt was a handful, but ended up as a riding horse, mainly ridden by a daughter of his.
They eventually gelded the colt because in groups other riders just did not control their mares in heat around the young stud. I am very glad that you are going to geld your horse. Stud colts are not necessarily fun to train, but when gelded everything can be so much easier to teach.