6 things riders may experience while backing a young horse

  • Now that the 2020 competition season is pretty much over for some of us — to be honest, it feels like it didn’t really begin — it’s that time of year where many riders turn their attention to the next generation of new faces.

    Every legendary horse started out as nothing more than young, raw potential and these super stars all went through their own period of early education.

    While backing a young horse is definitely not for the inexperienced, here are six things you might experience if you’re about to start your own…

    1. You will have misplaced your body protector

    As well as the obvious approved riding hat, a body protector is a wise choice when you start working with an unbroken steed. It’s possible you might not have worn it since last winter, so you’ll need to dig it out and dust it off. Just check the ‘lockdown pounds’ haven’t stopped it from fitting correctly…

    2. You’ll realise which people you really trust with your life

    There are a few individuals who you would trust to pick up a parcel from the post office or look after your purse, but there are very select number who you would trust to hold a young horse while you mount it for the first time. They need to be calm and reliable — in summary, you’ll suddenly realise who your “ride or dies” are.

    3. Your life might flash before your eyes

    Everything can be going swimmingly and then bang, a spook out results in the youngster trying his hand at pulling some shapes. If you’ve done the groundwork, hopefully there won’t be too many touch and go moments when you see the ground approaching you fast. Usually, everything ends up all right (either you hold on or you get up and get back on).

    4. You’ll be bored of long-reining

    It’s a catch 22; you may be bored, but you’ll also get super fit in the process. And long-reining is such a great way of reducating the young horse from the ground that it’s always worth it.

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    5. You might wish you’d left the horse out in the field to ‘mature’

    In the intial stages, it can feel like the end result of a beautifully backed horse ready to hit the circuit is a lifetime away. Those frustrating moments where you feel like you’re not making any progress might make you wish you’d left your horse out at grass for another season to grow up. Time out can be good to let a horse mature mentally and physically, but some setbacks are all part of the process so take it slow and persevere.

    6. You’ll get super-excited

    Every stage, no matter how small, feels like a huge win and backing a young horse is one of the most rewarding parts of being an equestrian. Who knows, you could be sat on a future champion and you just don’t know it yet…

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