Will it be the end of the world?

If I was going to do anything with 3yo it would be Intro dressage tests


thats a good idea. i have been looking into show dates for the local dressage schooling shows. even if he isn’t ready to do an actual test in the ring we can go and walk around and look at stuff. Either way i plan on doing fun stuff with him and he will be ready for whatever when he’s ready. He’s not a sale horse, i’m keeping him to be my next horse since my mare is “aging out”. So there is no rush. Mostly I just need some sort of “goal” or “timetable” for myself because sometimes it’s too easy for me to blow off riding saying “oh this needs to be done” or that needs to be fixed or i need to go pick up this or that and before i Know it the day is gone and i Haven’t ridden or worked with anybody. So i just need a kick in the butt to get me going again after being off for so long with my foot.

You might need a goal and a “kick up the butt” but I can almost guarantee that your horse is quite happy eating and having a snooze at home.


LOL Willesdon No doubt!!
unfortunately he has a to work a few short minutes each day away from his snoozing lol

You could get some inspiration from the mustang and OTTB challenges, some of the scary things they taught those horses to deal with were amazing! One was an OTTB who stepped on a giant tarp and then they pulled it all the way over him!

Clicker training is another option. You don’t have to do tricks if you don’t want. Do targets and then teach things like moving away from you on command.


Well, if he would have been off the track he would have done a lot more than a baby cross rail class. I think you are better exposing horses to things early.

I don’t see the harm taking a baby to a show but I remember 3 and 4 yr old hunter classes at 3 feet. What ever you decide I am sure you will keep it fun and low stress for you both.

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I think if you are planning to show, it is better to wait until he can do the things. Maybe not the flying changes, or even cantering into the lines, but I can’t see the point of encouraging a horse to step over jumps/walk jumps. I think it is important that he knows how to use his legs so you reduce the risk of him knocking/scraping over them, or vastly over jumping and scaring himself. The only experience that is valuable for a young horse is good experience.


I’m perfectly fine with a 3yo stepping over or walking over cross rails or ground poles. Provided of course the class entered has small enough fences to do so and he’s been set up for success. As a older adult ammy I’d be thrilled with any 3yo that quietly stepped over small cross rails without sending them flying. Careful enough to leave them up, quiet enough to understand he doesn’t need to clear the standards. Perfect for me.

He’s done A LOT more already as a OTTB, a couple shows with WT dressage tests and X rail classes isn’t going to hurt him provided he’s ready mentally.

If he needs hard riding daily and 30 minutes of lunging plus 30 minutes of warm up before he jumps then no, he’s not ready.


this. h will learn a lot more about his body and his balance with weight out on th trail.


When one of my young horses was 2 - 3 I used to pony her all over on trails. Really teaches them where their feet are and how to negotiate terrain changes.


Honestly, that is a lot for a 2.5 yr old. Most horses aren’t broke until their 3 year old year and then turned out for the winter and brought back in at the start of the spring to begin their 4 year old year.

I have a 3 year old, and go by the idea of the age = to number of days he is " worked". He is three, was broke this past summer, so he works three days a week. My sessions are less than 20 (10 of which are at a walk) minutes, walk/ trot/ canter each way a few circles and call it a day and hack. If I had him when he was 2.5 it would be even less- no days ridden and ground work or maybe lunging for a very short time. when my horse turns four he will be worked 4 days a week. I don’t have the diagram off hand, but horses (tbs/ warmbloods) don’t stop growing until they are close to 7-8 which means their joints and bones are still growing and haven’t closed yet. It is not good to rush during this time- and there is no need. It won’t benefit them mentally or physically to start jumping as a 2.5-3 year old, or go out and do a dressage test. If you want to aim for something look up the Future Event Horse ( FEH) guidelines and see what they are asking a 2 or 3 year old to do.

For example, the go for gold goresbridge event horse sale just happened. The 3 year olds ( mind you they are 3 turning 4 next year) were jumped in a jump chute, not under saddle. And prior to the sale, most were long lined through xc questions of banks, water, ditches, etc- non of the young horses were asked to do much of anything under saddle. So if your horse is 2.5, and already under saddle, I would give him the winter off from being ridden. I would not be working him on lunge or long lining more than 2 days a week, and if I needed to do stuff the other few days, just grooming, bathing, ground manners, trailering - learning to load / unload. That is the stuff that will benefit way more than rushing the horse to do things under saddle.


You would do better by backing him, then turning him away for a few months, then bring him back and take him trail riding until he’s 4. Ground driving is very useful; you can get turning, stopping, backing up etc. and all your voice commands down before mounting.


hes not an OTTB, hes a homebred. However, i have already most if not all of the groundwork already suggested and am running out of ideas LOL. He grounddrives, ponies, steps over stuff, we’ve done tarps, plastic bags, silly string in the stall, etc etc etc. But yeah exactly what you have described is kind of what my intention is.

TxnGa, there is no “hard riding” in his future at all for the net couple of years at least. He’s not under saddle yet, although he has had it on several times in the stall and it’s been a non event. I have not sat on him yet due to my foot and ankle injury having me mostly out of commission since april.
He’s been turned out all summer because it’s hot as hell here, this is the area where we ride in the winter LOL.

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I’d take him first to a WT dressage test with full intentions of scratching if he loses his mind and just handwalking/lunging him. Or even a show where you can show him in hand, but those are harder to find than Intro dressage tests. Sure, you’d lose an entry, but it’s worth it to get him on the show ground. I had one that had months of riding at home and trail riding and lessons that lost its shit and spent 8 hours trying to climb out of a stall and was barely handle able on the ground and another that I ended up cantering in a warm up ring w 20 other horses when he was just 30 days under saddle.

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To put it in perspective, he is an unraced thoroughbred. Thoroughbreds have been bred to develop earlier I think than warmbloods (physically and one might argue mentally). There are also advantages to some work when young. He is not a china doll. I am sure you will use good judgement with him. There is also something to be said for getting horses out there doing human based/desired activities early before they get too big and strong and physically mature in my mind. Good luck with him!

The UL 3-day eventer I boarded with years ago would even take an extra baby or two along for the ride whenever he took horses to winter schooling shows. While he occasionally took one down into the warm up, mostly he just wanted them to get used to the atmosphere: seeing the strange horses and people from the trailer, getting used to the idea of buddies leaving and returning to the trailer area, maybe hand walking around the show grounds.

I’ve noticed that a lot of shows don’t allow you to bring along extra horses anymore. ( For all I know, he may have been entering and scratching them in order to do it, even back then. ) Fortunately, we have enough inexpensive schooling shows around us that it’s pretty reasonable to enter and scratch. I’m even in the habit of saying the same thing to my human child if her night-before-the-show nerves are threatening to get the best of her, “Let’s just go. Can always scratch if it’s just not working.”

we have already been going to little schooling shows and hanging out and walking around in the rings in the morning and evening etc.
I’m with Omare, I like to try to get the brain right so when the body is ready they dont act like a total fruit cake .
I took a bunch of my rails and made sort of a maze in my riding area and took him through that today in hand and walked him over a few cross rails i set up.
I’m running out of things to ask him to walk over under and through lol. But I plan to keep working and playing with him at his pace and see what happens.

This is why I don’t buy horses before age 4. LOL. OP, like you (- the foot) I love to play with my babies, teach them things and go do stuff.

I know from my past breaking babies and regularly galloping 2 yr olds at the track, the babies can mentally handle a LOT. Their bodies, esp the bigger ones, sometimes need a shade more time. No judgement on the riders/owners but like a 16.3 two year old would send me running. OCD’s in the hind end suck, but are able to be remedied.

For your case, I would have no problem going to shows, doing hack classes, pole classes etc. The cross rails issue for me would lead to having a set of knee rads first. If that joint is still open… not going to jump. I know that makes me a wuss in some folks eyes, but working where I work, I have seen the rads of the ones pressed to jump early on. They may be sound now, but the longevity of their useful leg years might be lessened a bit.



It sounds like maybe you’re the one who is bored & not him? :blush: