Starting a 2 Year Old Horse Under Saddle

When starting a two year old horse under saddle there are several important factors that must be considered. First among them is physical development.

Has your two-year old reached maturity as indicated by an x-ray of their knees to check whether their growth plates have closed? This is essential as two-year olds are vulnerable to injury.

Physical Development

Young horses must be physically prepared to carry riders before starting them under saddle. Otherwise, their bones may have not developed correctly and could become lame or broken, while soft tissues like ligaments and tendons could be injured by carrying additional weight from a rider.

Trainers can assist their horses’ development by gradually ramping up the work done under saddle. While this process may require patience and careful evaluation of physical conditions of horses being trained, trainers can have confidence that training sessions occur at the right time and pace.

Trainers should ensure the horse is physically prepared before considering temperament issues. Horses with relaxed personalities tend to respond better under rider pressure and be less afraid of experiencing new sensations such as wearing a saddle on their back.

At an early age, horses must become acquainted with bridles and saddles to avoid shock when put onto their back for the first time. Their trainer should spend time introducing different environments for them to explore while becoming used to carrying riders – this will help build confidence while also preparing them for more complex exercises in future. Providing them with this exposure early can speed their progress under saddle while creating strong bonds between riders and horses alike.

Mental Development

Equestrians often believe that two year-old horses are too immature physically or psychologically for starting them under saddle and carrying riders, due to racing experience or because many have never received proper training from an instructor who understands that horses can be started earlier with great results. Unfortunately this misconception is perpetuated by racing events, yet many do not have access to trained experts who understand that horses can still thrive at this early age if started early enough.

Not many people realize it, but horses can experience strong emotional responses to any type of handling or stressors and must build their trust in humans for proper physical development and may react violently under saddle. This may explain why young horses tend to buck or resist hard.

To assist with this, it is wise to gradually train young horses, giving them ample time to establish trust with you as their handler. Horses cannot learn new things if they’re constantly anxious; ensure that your plan and schedule allow for any detours or delays that might arise during this journey from groundwork to being started under saddle – ensuring they are ready can save a great deal of time and trouble in the long run!

Behavioral Development

At two years old, many may feel it premature to introduce horses into a saddle environment; therefore it would be prudent to wait at least until four or five years old before beginning training. When starting horses at this age, we must still exercise extreme care with how we approach training; using desensitization exercises and positive reinforcement will be key in developing our horses as individuals while understanding how they perceive their environment as well as learning how to identify behaviors which indicate excessive emotional reactivity which could compromise learning.

Horses are prey animals and their instinctive fight or flight survival behavior forms the core of their response in any situation. With one of the most sensitive noses of any domesticated animal, even minor stimuli such as trash blowing across a trail or sudden noise may elicit this natural instinctive response and cause them to buck, rear and kick out of fear. Without desensitizing our horses beforehand to such situations and giving them time to adjust to them before introducing a rider under saddle we may soon discover they become afraid and start reacting this way out of fearful anticipation of what will come their presence can triggers this very natural response and cause them to react this way due to being forced upon them under saddle!

Understanding how reinforcement, punishment (subtraction or removal of something), clear boundaries and consequences work together will allow us to avoid unwanted behavioral responses in our horses. Once this foundation has been laid we can build long-term riding partnerships together.


At two years old, many experts consider horses to be ready for light training under saddle. Most trainers will approach this work with short sessions that aren’t too strenuous on either their body or mind – often lunging with long reins before riding in small circles to desensitize them to bridles and bits before beginning regular rides in small circles.

No need to introduce cantering and jumping exercises as this will place undue strain on a young horse’s immature back and hindquarters, or ground driving as this may result in serious ribcage injuries for them.

As soon as your young horse has been trained to walk on a lead rope and in small circles with you riding in the center, a good time has come for him/her to learn how to be led around by using a lead rope and lead rope exercise. This will enable them to develop balance and follow instructions which is an integral component of being an excellent riding horse.

Finding a trainer you get along with and who shares similar philosophies on horsemanship is essential. To find your ideal instructor, watch them work before making your choice; make sure they practice what they preach! Furthermore, speaking to other trainers might also give some insights as to who would best start their horses.

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