This book presents a complete system for training your
horse during his formative years, which will give him the proper foundation for
whatever he will be used for in the years to come. Training lessons are
presented in a progressive manner, and are specifically tailored to the
requirements of the young horse.
The author does not believe in imprint training, preferring to let the foal
imprint on its own species in the hours after birth. She is a proponent of
early learning however, and recommends introducing the foal to the halter
and to restraint at around
two days of age (I think about 8-12 hours old is better). Her methods are
gentle, quiet and firm while introducing the youngster to his first
restraint with an arm across his chest and behind his buttocks.
I particularly appreciated the table of comparison of approximate human equivalents
to the different ages of young horses. For example, a 2 year old is the
physical equivalent of a human adolescent (15-year-old) but the emotional
equivalent of a human 8-year-old, prone to emotional outburts. She
recommends training sessions 3 times weekly varying from 15 minutes for a
foal, 30 minutes for a weanling, working up to 60 minutes for a two year
Training principles are clearly presented and spelled out in advance.
It is useful for someone who is
well-experienced with riding or driving but has never trained before to
know, for example, that in training we must accept and praise approximations
or attempts at the desired action and then gradually refine and hone the
behaviour. The first time you request an action it well seldom be presented
perfectly, so we must reward the effort. Further,
we must not move too fast toward the goal, or the horse may miss components
of the lesson.
There is a section on training for hobbles and scotch-hobbles and
my advice is to skip this section,
unless you have direct access to a trusted and experienced trainer
who has first hand experience with hobble training and can help you
teach your horse. In the opinion of this reviewer, this is not an activity that novices can learn from
a book, there is too much potential for things to go wrong.
Specific activities and lessons are laid out for the suckling foal,
weanling, yearling, long yearling (18-month-old), and two year old.
For a Fjord horse I would follow the program outlined in the book
but stretch it out over
three years instead of two, to allow for the slower development and
maturation (more than made up for by enhanced longevity).
This book contains a very good section on stress in the young
horse, as well as one on puberty, including gelding and aftercare, and fillies and
the estrous cycle. A chapter on evaluating the potential of your youngstock
is very useful, as is the section on recordkeeping and journals.
also a section on management of youngsters including working with the
veterinarian, the farrier and the trainer, veterinary care and health
management, nutrition, exercise.
If a person were to ask me for a recommendation for one book to follow in
raising and training a young horse this book would be a strong contender.