Re: Breaking something in...?
I bred Luna myself, so was determined that when it came to backing her, and bringing her on, I wanted to do it all myself. I had ridden for some 15 years at this point, and although by no means an expert, I’d had a range of experience from working riding schools, trekking centres and a SJ and Race yard. I had also kept my own horse (Luna’s mum) on a small dealer/stud and had helped with their horses in return for reduced livery – therefore, I felt reasonably prepared. I am a dab hand at lunging and long-reining etc!
Luna was shown as a yearling, 2 yr old and 3 yr old before she was backed and from an early age I was strict with boundaries. She is a typical welshie and will try to use her weight to get her way, but by being firm and fair, we both knew were we both stood!
When she was 2 ½ - 3 she was long reined and led out both in the school and on the roads. In fact, I must have hiked bloody miles behind that brown bottom! She was introduced to a saddle as well at around this age, although it was really just a matter of putting it on her back now and then. She was very unconcerned by all this and when mucking out, I used to stand on the shavings bales when I took them in and lean over her. I also used to use a step when washing her for shows etc and did the same, so she was well used to me being above her, and used to taking a small amount of weight on her back.
I remember the day I sat on her for the first time like it was yesterday! It was the spring and a miserable day really. She will have been rising 4. I had long reined her down the road and when I got back, the yard ‘loud mouth’ said, “I don’t know why don’t just send her away than do it all yourself, all young horses act like rodeo horses!”. Well, that was like a red rag to a bull, so I walked her up to the mounting block, leaned over her for a minute, put my foot in the stirrup and got on! Luna just stood like a dream!!! Haha – wiped the smirk off the ‘loud mouths’ face!!! I walked her up and down the track to the farm twice, and even trotted the second one and Luna was an angel!!!
Now, I know this was not the wisest move, but I did know Luna inside out and knew I’d be sitting on her in the next couple of weeks. After this, I sat on her maybe once or twice a week, never for more than 15 minutes at a time until after the summer. I also kept on with the long-reining for the first few months. When riding her, for the first week, I stuck to the farm, and in the school. However, after that I hacked her out as I didn’t like the idea of young joints doing too much school work! I think it is all the long-reining and early hacking which has made her so brave as she never bats an eye at the largest of vehicles and has never napped in her life! She is a joy to hack!
As she got older, I increased her school work, and introduced jumping. Again, no real issues other than that she likes to go as fast as possible!
I know that my experience has been very straight forward. I have helped with others that are much more problematic and so I think that the decision to back your own horse is entirely personal and depends on the horse, the rider and the bond you have!