The youngsters are handled in a similar way as older horses that come in for training. We emphasize building respect and trust between horse and trainer. When that is accomplished the actual schooling can begin. Basic ground manners are emphasized and the following list shows what is commonly done at each age:
One year olds: Those horses first and foremost need to learn to trust the human being and respect. Then teaching them several simple, but necessary behaviors such as being caught, being lead and wearing a halter becomes easy. The important aspect gained through this process is that when the horse actually and really trusts the handler, then it will allow him to anything such as picking up feet, lead it into a trailer, and other common handling behaviors even though it has not specifically practiced them before.
Two year olds: Besides reviewing what was learned before, new things such as carrying a bridle and saddle are practiced. We emphasize working with the brain of the horse and not the muscles, i.e. the horse is learning, but not physically trained. The horse is too young for that at this age.
Three year olds: Of course we start with some review like before, and then we do more advanced bridle work. We expect the horse to be able to be lead in the bridle, and carry a saddle. If the horse is big and well developed, then we get on and teach the horse to be ridden to the left and to the right. This is done in a big box, and it is important that the rider is light, flexible and well balanced. If the horse is small compared to age, and lacking muscles then it is not advised to get on at this point.
The main difference between this handling and regular young horse training is the physical aspect. At this young age, the horse is ready for some learning, but not for physical training. For that it needs more muscle, bone and tendon growth and development before that is advisable.
Horses that have gone through this process are very well prepared for the actual starting process when it begins. They are usually ready to be ridden, and of course the important part, nothing should be of big surprise since the owner now knows what to expect from his/her horse. The probability of having raised a low quality horse for several years with appropriate cost, thinking it would be a high quality horse, is very low. This can save a lot of money and disappointments.