Training a young horse every other day or every two days

Hi, After getting my horse back from breaking in i expérimented riding my young horse every other day or even letting rest for two days between every session that are quite short anyway. I was surprised that my horse works even better if i do not ride him frequently. I work AT a training barn where horses are ridden five days a week and people are telling me that my own horse will not physically and mentally mature and learn if i do not ride him more. What do you think?


I think it’s best if you do something with your young horse at least 5 days/week.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be riding, but it needs to be some kind of constructive training. And your training session doesn’t have to be long every day. A 20 minute ride or 15 minutes of ground work is still useful.


Even if hé s 3?

Yes. Frequent short training sessions are even more so the way to go with a young horse.

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I agree with @NoSuchPerson. Do something with your horse every day (if possible).

It depends on the individual horse, the individual trainer, and the individual training program. That being said… at 3, there is nothing wrong IMO with keeping it simple and easy.

Do what you think is best with your horse. I’ve had some that progressed much further with 2-3 good sessions, and I’ve had others that need to be in work full time. Both of my current horses seem to be the former right now - especially the young horse, who is still filling out and growing.

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I started my young horse this Spring and he did best with an every other day riding schedule( for the most part).

We did Sun, Tues, Thurs, Sat.

Or Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat. Whatever worked for my schedule that week.

He is at home so I groomed and messed with him sometimes on groundwork , on his off days too.

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How old IS hé?

Generally, you will make the fastest and best progress working with your horse every day.

But it would be very helpful to know exactly what you do in a “session”?

Because of course, that can vary greatly. Someone who goes and trail rides for 2 hours versus someone who does 10 minutes of round pen work, are two completely different “sessions”. So I think it would help us out to answer your question if you can be more specific on what you are doing.

Some young horses cannot mentally handle certain pressures. Some can. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do something with them that is tailered to their mental level.

However, if YOU personally do not enjoy working with your horse every day, and only want to ride 2 or 3 times a week because that’s what YOU like, well, have at it. Your horse. Your life.


The rule of thumb I’ve heard from a few different places is at age 3 ride them 3 days per week, age 4 is 4 days/week, and age 5 is 5 days per week. And keep the rides short, only 10-20 minutes of actual work, plus walking to warm up and cool out. Or if still very green broke walking is the work!

My horse turns 5 this year and I’ve erred on the side of less is more as she’s still developing physically. And I want to keep work fun and interesting so she looks forward to it!

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No, i wish i could ride all day long, i have several horses so i Can ride 5 days a week. And i handle each of them 5 days a week. I only Ask because ibtry not to physical and mentally burn out m’y horses

3 years old, ride three days per week
4 years old, ride four days per week
5 years old, five days per week
This is from Scott Hassler, an expert in developing young horses.

With a three year old, I’d do something on at least a few the the four days of “not riding”. Hand walks around the neighborhood, light groundwork, clicker training…things to build relationship.

That said, if your horse is standing in a stall most of the day, it’s not realistic to expect them to focus. Turnout is at the top of the list for a three year old, IMO.

Bear in mind that Carl Hester says his horses work four times per week.


I got my fjord when he was 3, he is soon to be 6. I’ve done something with him nearly every day since I’ve had him; grooming, groundwork, trail walking, ground driving, lunging, training rides, and longer easy trail rides. There were many days I’d just sit and hang out with him in his stall while he was eating before/after anything else we did. We also haul out and go see new places and things and started driving when I got a cart last year (he was broke to drive when I got him). When he was younger, we didn’t do a lot of back to back rides but had plenty of other ways to bond and learn what was expected as far as manners go.

This has worked really well for us. He is curious and eager to please which helps. It was especially obvious when he was younger, when he would start to lose focus during training rides and therefore easier to not overdo anything on that end. Many were just 15-20 min rides.

So long as you are paying attention to your horse, you are NOT going to physically or mentally burn them out.

For example, 10 minutes of ground work (yielding shoulders, hindquarters, etc) followed by 20-30 minutes of riding, asking for softness, body control, collection, etc etc is not going to be too hard on any horse. And then maybe tied up to 30 minutes after that is good for them too.

Would you take a 3 year old through a full height jumping course training every single day? Of course not. That would absolutely fry their brain and destroy their body. But you sure won’t hurt them by working with them a little bit each day.

Think of it this way --> If you can help them develop a good work ethic at a young age, wow, you are going to set them up for success the rest of their life. As long as they TRY to find the correct answer of what you are asking, there you go. It could be something as simple as asking them to stop (from a walk) just from sitting deep in your seat and never having to pick up the reins. You’re not hurting their body physically. That’s sure not an overstimulation mentally. But it’s a very simple easy thing you can work on perfecting, that’s going to carry through forever.

Two years ago, I went to a riding clinic (happened to be a barrel racing clinic) and there was a gorgeous 3-year-old horse there (he had just turned 3) that the owner had just picked up from the trainer after being there for 90 days. Holy smokes that horse was BROKE. Rode just as good or better than the aged horses that were there. But you could tell that horse had an extremely experienced horseman on their back for 90 days that made exponential progress. Soft in the bridle. Carried itself collected, rounded, and correct. Did any maneuvar owner asked and picked up leads easily. And horse was relaxed and happy. She’s got a wonderful foundation that’s going to excel no matter which way the owner takes her.

Human toddlers thrive on routine. So do horse toddlers. Give them that same work routine every day and they’re going to love it. I don’t know why people are so scared to start teaching their horses from a young age. You don’t have to work them into the ground to do it. Keep it easy, light, and enjoyable for the horse and you can still teach them loads.


They are so much better with a little time off. 3 years old 3 days per week. The routine for riding is the same but they get back sore as they build up stamina that they need those recovery days from carrying weight.


He was 3 1/2 when we started. My rides were probably 35 minutes walking and some very brief trot sets thrown in here and there.

We worked mostly on turning, stopping, moving off my leg, figure eights etc… very light work. I am never in a hurry.

You make faster progress with daily work, but a good-minded youngster doesn’t “need” daily work. The super smart, willing ones are just a nice after a month off as they are after seven rides in a row.

Now, if your horse stands in a stall 12+ hours a day, it is hard to make certain types of progress due to a lack of physical conditioning. But if they’re out in a big, hilly, pasture, then that’s less of an issue.

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I am going to make some assumptions based on a couple things.
1, OP posted in the western forum, therefor most likely a QH or QH cross with 90 days before sent home from the trainer.
2, Horse wasn’t started until 3.5 years old so not on track for futurities or derbies or pressed for a show career.

Assuming the above along with the OP saying the horse rode better with a couple days in between. I say go with what feels the best. Some horses need more time to marinate than others. There is nothing wrong with giving those days off to young horse as long as he does well and willing when you bring him back in.

I have started a pile of futurity prospects, and yes, they get rode 5 days a week, but it really is at the discretion of the colt starter on what to do those days. Some days I could get some serious training in, some days it just might be getting out of the stall for some exercise and a light review because they needed time to process. It was better to do so rather than pick a fight because I pushed too hard. Mind you, these where short sessions, I usually rode my colts about 20 minutes. Moral of the story, you can turn him out for 2 days or you do something light with him. But if he’s progressing every ride with a couple days off in between, there is nothing wrong with that.

On the other side starting ranch colts, after a certain point I would purposely figure out where the threshold was on how many days off I could give them in between riding. After I started developing the work ethic and they fell into it, I started to feel teach them to be responsible for themselves after having time off. If a young horse was good, give him a day off. When he came back in and he was good, I’d give him two days off. Say he didn’t handle two days off well. Go back to one day off, etc.

We like our horses to think and learn to be responsible for themselves, if you have a colt that wants to be that way, I say use it to your advantage.

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Young horses, horses that are learning their jobs do best in a slow and steady environment. That means better to have 20-30min lessons 5 days a week than a couple large lessons with days off in between.
I know my first day back to work after the weekend is the Monday Blues.
And I would question if your horse is not feeling sore somewhere or is otherwise not taking to the training program if he rides better after time off.
My horses starting at 2 are worked in some capacity 6 days per week. It might be groundwork, roundpen, hot Walker, riding etc but they get mental stimulation and are learning 6 days a week.


Yes, i am taking about riding with days off in between, i handle him 5 days a week and i Saw that my horse does better with a day off in between. Thé day off being not riding but doeing other stuff liké ground work, long Line etc