How to handle a yearling horse

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Yearling horses are the equivalent of a preteen in a human: eager, and easily impressionable. This article will help you learn how to handle them.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Halter
  • Lead rope
  • Patience

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    Handling the yearling horse

  1. 1

    A yearling horse is one that is one year old - either close to or over - but less than two years old. They are out of the "baby" stage, but certainly nowhere near their adult stage either. Hormones are barely starting, and they are still very impressionable and easily influenced - for both good and bad. In a human, the yearling would be the "pre-teen" age. Gawky and uncertain, but still such a pleasure to be around and to teach. How you handle them will affect them the rest of their lives.

  2. 2

    Start slow. Most yearling horses will have at least had some handling and will be halter broken - knowing how to lead and tie. If not, you have a lot of work to do. Start by simply spending time with your young horse. Get her in an enclosed area, a stall or pen, and just spend quiet time getting to know her. Scratch her if you can. The best places are at the base of the neck, near the shoulder, and behind the withers. Talk softly to her. Halter her slowly and repeat all the good scratches. Take as much time as you need to make her your friend. Do NOT rush things.

  3. 3

    Once she has learnt to trust you, and that wonderful things like feed and scratchings come from you. You can begin by grooming her. Do not tie her at first. Instead, drape the lead rope loosely over your arm and start grooming. This will allow her to step around and not feel the pull on her head of being tied... yet she cannot escape you since she will be in an enclosed place. Soon she will learn to relax. Once you see her starting to lick her lips and chew, she is beginning to relax. This is excellent, and a sign you are doing well.

  4. 4

    When she has learnt to fully trust you with a halter and lead rope on her head, you can begin expanding her lessons. You do not want to start saddle training on a yearling... any more than you would want to slap a 50lb knapsack on a ten year old kid. But all the good manners she will display her whole life can be learnt now. Just as with a child, if you teach them to say "please" and "Thank you" as young children, they are more likely to follow this behaviour in adulthood - if you take the time to teach your equine youngster the manners of stopping and leading on command, trotting and backing, tying and picking up feet, bathing, etc. - this will all come back later in her life and make her (and your) job much easier.

  5. 5

    Remember a yearling only has a limited attention span. Keep your training to no more than 15-30 minutes. And always end on a good note. Yearling are sweet and although they can be naughty sometimes - mostly they are good kids that want to please you.

    How to handle a yearling horse

Tips and warnings

  • NEVER get impatient with a yearling. If you find this happening, walk away.
  • Never teach a young horse to "shake hands" - it is cute now... wait until they weigh 1100lbs.

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