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Green Horse Rules to Live By

Ten tips for owning or riding a green horse.

By Cindy Hale | March 2008 HI Exclusive

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Tips on working with your green horse When working with a green horse, regardless of the type, you’re going to have some highs and lows. To help you keep your wits and your optimism about you, here are 10 rules to remember:

1. Building a bond with your horse through groundwork exercises has its benefits, but eventually you have to get on and ride. The work you do on the ground is not a substitute for the work you’re going to do under saddle.

2. Rarely is a training problem solved with a stronger bit or a trendy gadget.

3. When in doubt, longe. Or encourage your horse to kick up his heels in a large turnout paddock. A green horse that’s fresh and frisky can’t focus on his work.

4. Be patient. Don’t skip ahead to a more difficult request before you’ve laid the foundation. For example, you can’t expect your green horse to pick up his leads if you haven’t first taught him to move laterally in response to your leg aids.

5. Don’t accept bad jumping, sloppy leg yields, rushed transitions or crooked halts. Every time you ride your green horse, you’re teaching or reinforcing something. While you don’t want to bore your horse, you should repeat a schooling exercise until your horse — and you — get it right.

6. Keep an eye on your horse’s legs and joints. The stress of training on a green horse can produce swelling, soreness and stiffness that can become a serious unsoundness issue if left unattended. Giving a green horse time to heal and recuperate can save you vet bills and heartache.

7. While you work with your green horse, find opportunities to ride an experienced horse. Consider taking lessons on a school horse. Riding a finished mount will give you a feel for what you’re aiming for with your own horse.

8. If you find yourself getting so frustrated that you end up yanking on your horse’s mouth, kicking, spurring or whipping his sides, then it’s time to dismount and step away from the greenie. You and your horse are not communicating, and it’s time to seek professional advice.

9. You can train your green horse at home, but when it comes time to show, don’t forget to train your green horse to compete. Your horse will have to learn all about the horse show routine: the chaos of the warm-up ring, the distraction of unfamiliar horses, the water truck, the loudspeaker, et cetera.

10. Regardless of how carefully you chose your green prospect and how meticulous you were in his training, be prepared to accept that your green horse may never develop into your dream horse. Ultimately, you may have to modify your goals or find your horse a new home so that he can enjoy a career better suited to his talents.

Further Reading
Baby Green Blues
How to keep your green horse calm and focused

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Reader Comments

Kaitlin    Raleigh, NC

4/19/2015 9:41:55 AM

I am currently helping someone train their green horse, and this article was extremely helpful, especially because the process can be trying at times!

Liz    Davenport, IA

9/24/2013 5:50:41 PM

I relize this blog and the comments on it are old but as a trainer myself I absolutly had to rebutt some of the comments made.
first and foremost there is no one method that is a perfect fit for every horse rider or situation. I encourage all riders to get some training in every discipline the more you know the easier you can tackle problems you will face.
second lunging a horse no matter if hes a pro, green, or never been touched a day in his life is never a waste of time! If you feel this way about it then chances are you are doing it incorrectly and should consider seeking a professional. Every method has its own merit what some fail to relize though is that parelli's method simply stems from understanding the body language of horses. If you take the time to study only the language then you can turn any exercise into a way to build trust and respect.
For more Info try googling Monte Roberts. He is one of the pioneers of natural horsemanship.
I have trained and workd with more horses then I can count many diffrent breeds disciplins and levels of experience. With each one lunging is the very first thing I do. As weanlings my babys are taught to lunge. It is a helpful tool to teach respect, leads, trust, transitions, gate and so much more.
The most common mistake I see is the thought " lunging a horse helps them burn energy."
If youv got a fatty sure itl quiet them down. your goal should always be above that.
whille lunging you tap into the natural herd instinct. you drive away your horse you dictate when to switch directions how fast he can go. the cues you want to see in your horse are ear in paying attention to you, chewing, lower head, slowing speed. If at the end of your lunge your horse willingly comes to you and fallows you around then you have become your horses herd leader. there is more to it how you position your body and drive away ect. again if you struggle with this find a trainer or look up and read Monte Roberts books. If I told you exactly how to do all this Id have to start my own blog. bottom line LUNGING IS NOT A WASTE OF TIME!!
lastly, to those of you who take the notion of your horse and you being "friends" directly to the heart. please remember trust and respect are a nessessity there are plenty of ways to acheive this but if you get a horse who is naughter then expected or just has some issues tools that alot of the natural horsemanship crowed sees as inhuman such as chains, whips crops spurs ect are sometimes nessissary. An out of hand horse can easily hurt or kill a person these tools can help untill you can manage better training. A correctly used chain is alot nicer then a poorly used rope halter. get the training you need to help your horse the best you can. Thanks and I hope this helps you atleast a little

Hailey    ma, MA

9/21/2012 12:02:43 PM

can someone explain 'Parelli'?

Mike    Columbia, TN

9/21/2012 11:09:18 AM

Interesting! I hope that everyone has a great and safe weekend!

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