Handling a young horse

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When handling young horses, it is important to always keep safety in mind. When evaluating a youngstock for sale you will need to know how to safely handle the horse. A young horse’s handling will affect its training later on; here are some tips to get you handling young horses like a pro. Use Proper Equipment With Young Horses Before you handle a young horse make sure that the horse is outfitted with a properly fitting halter and a soft cotton or nylon lead rope. Always wear gloves which can protect your hands, and wear boots designed for work around horses. If you know you will be doing a training session with young horses, it might be wise to wear a riding helmet to protect your head just in case.
When Handling Young Horses, Timing Is Everything Young horses will respond best to your handling if you understand when to release pressure. Young horses are often very sensitive to pressure, and many of them are still learning to give to it. When handling a young horse, understand that you should release the pressure you’re putting on a horse the instant it starts to give to you. Doing so will teach the horse that the behavior they are providing is a positive one, and through repetition they can learn just what is expected of them. You can also make handling easier on a horse by carefully choosing when you decide to handle the horse. It is not wise to handle a youngster during already chaotic or stressful times, such as just before feeding or turning out. Wait until the horse is settled, relaxed, and comfortable before you choose to handle a young horse. Keep Sessions Short and Frequent In addition to carefully selecting when you handle a young horse, remember to keep any training or handling sessions short. Youngsters naturally have short attention spans, and a long handling session may demand too much of a young horse. Set the horse up for success by handling him in short sessions on a frequent basis – at least daily.
Always Pay Attention with Young Horses When handling young horses, it is vital to always stay on your toes and be focused on the horse. Young horses can react quickly and dramatically to stimuli that older trained and conditioned horses might not even acknowledge. Constantly watch a youngster for clues in his body language about where his focus is and where and how he might possibly move next. Similarly, always keep yourself in a safe position in relation to the young horse. Never let yourself get directly ahead of or behind a young horse, and stay out of his kicking range. Always remember that a horse can easily leap upward and sideways; if you see his attention wandering then be sure that you refocus him so that he pays attention to you. Stay aware of your surroundings and try to handle a young horse in open areas so that you cannot be pinned in corners or against walls. Always be careful and patient when handling young horses.
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