dog & horse books: breeding, training, showing, judging, performance
Choosing a Discipline for Your Young Horse
What can she do best?
Most people start with the horse, and then train for the discipline of their choice, but often it pays to look at it from the other way around. Analyze your colt or filly and select the discipline for which he or she is best suited. According to popular author Laurie Truskauskas-Knott, you can invest all the time, money and training you wish into a colt and yet, because of physical or mental limitations, he may not be able to excel at a particular discipline. Among other tips in her book Training the Two Year Old Colt, she advises:
After training a colt for thirty to sixty days, ask yourself the following questions:
· Does he have a good mind and is he willing to learn? A colt with perfect conformation that will not accept training will never utilize his true potential. If you plan to train for a more demanding discipline, it is important for the horse to have a good mind and a high level of trainability. A trainable colt will accept the training process without fighting it excessively and he will remember what he was previously taught. Many colts continue to learn for days, and then hit a week or a month where they seem to stay at the same level. This may related to age or they may need more time to mature mentally. Others are unable to progress past a certain stage of training. With this type of colt, train as far as you can and then see what he is best suited for (in another discipline) and find him a home doing that.
Is your colt willing to learn?
What does his conformation make him best suited for? Every horse usually fits at least one discipline. His conformation not only tells you if he is suited to the type of work that you are asking of him, it will also tell you if he is able to hold up to the demands placed on him by that discipline. A horse that is not suited to a certain discipline will become sore and resentful.
What is his athletic ability? Your young prospect must have the natural ability to perform the demands placed on him by the chosen discipline. Training can only overcome so much. A colt that is light on his feet will more readily be able to perform more demanding maneuvers such as reining, dressage, or jumping.
Assess your horse’s athletic ability and movement.
How does he move?A long-strided, flat-kneed colt looks the part of a hunter under saddle or jump fences. However, a hunter or jumper must also have power in his hind legs to propel his body over fences. A prospective reiner that cannot reach under himself with his hind legs will not be able to elevate his shoulders enough to slide to a spectacular show-stopping stop, nor will he be able to change leads correctly and effortlessly.
Keeping all of this information in mind as you ride your colt will allow you to make a proper choice of discipline. You may find that after six months or a year your colt is better suited for one activity than another. Always be open to change. Let your horse tell you what he is best suited for. If you do not have the knowledge or background to decipher your colt’s inclinations, ask for professional help. This can save you time, money and effort down the road.