Every equestrian buys their first horse at some point; it’s a rite of passage. If you’re looking into it, you’ve probably had significant experience with riding at your local school or stable, and have a few ideas of what sort of animal you want to own. Like many animal owners, you probably want a younger horse, in order to forge a lifelong bond; but while you look through the yearling section of your local ‘horses for sale’ classifieds, it’s important to consider what you’re capable of as a trainer, and what you want in a new horse.
Getting a totally untrained new horse is not like getting an untrained puppy; horses are much larger than humans, and there’s a genuine potential for injury. If you’re not an experienced trainer already, you’ll want to make sure that your new horse has some very basic skills and has gotten used to humans. Horse trainers differ on when a newly born foal should be handled by humans, but all agree that it’s important to familiarize the infant horse with human touch and voice.
Young horses cannot be ridden until they’re several years old, but some aspects of their education should start as early as possible. During their first year of life, foals are trained to accept a halter on their head and to let humans guide them in a walk or a trot. Foals should also be comfortable with basic grooming etiquette; they need to be calm for veterinarians, hoof care, and getting brushed and washed. These basic skills are vital to fostering a long, happy relationship between human and horse.
If you buy a very young horse, you should always make sure that it is trained to the appropriate level. If a yearling horse (one to two years old) hasn’t been trained, then it won’t accept a blanket on its back and will bolt at most loud noises. Horses will naturally fear flapping objects like blankets unless they’re specifically taught not to worry about them; getting a harness around its belly or mouth will be nearly impossible. If you want to do a little training, there’s still plenty to teach your new horse, however, it’s best to leave the basics up to the professional trainers. If you’ve found a potential new horse on a site like liverystable.net, it’s a good idea to ask the seller about this before you commit.