What Should a Yearling Know?
By the time a horse is a year old, he is already getting pretty big. It is difficult to train him if he does not already have solid foundations. He should already know how to lead, stand for being groomed, and behave for the vet and farrier.
The next stage is to teach your horse how to tie. It is important to wait until he is at least a year old before tying, as it takes time for the spine to mature enough to cope with the stress of a possible accident. Youngsters also tend to be more prone to silliness and are more likely to have problems with breaking away.
It is easiest to start with teaching your horse to crosstie. If you have worked with him at standing still for grooming, he will already know that he should stand quietly as you brush him. Stand him in the aisle, where you have the crossties set up, and groom him while holding the lead rope. Keep him standing in place, as though he were tied.
Once he is comfortable with this, add the crossties. Keep a lead rope attached to him, and hold it as you groom. If he steps out of line, gently ask him to return to where he was standing. If he does pull back on the ties, be sure to correct with the lead rope before he overstresses the crossties. As he gets used to the idea, throw the lead over your horse’s neck so that it is still close at hand, but you are not actively holding him. Finally, you can remove the lead, and he should stand quietly in the crossties.
You can continue your training in hand with your yearling. You can take him for walks around the farm, and work with him in the ring. Many shows have classes for showmanship or for conformation on the line. Take the time to teach your horse to trot in hand, and to stand up for the judge.
Line shows are a great way to prepare your baby for his future as a performance horse. He will get a chance to see what horse shows are all about in a low-stress environment. Go out for the experience, and not for the prizes. You can even go out to shows without actually going in the ring, just walking around the show grounds and letting your youngster experience the show grounds.
Other fun things to try include walking your horse over poles, teaching him to free longe and teaching him to free jump. Make sure that you keep things low impact, and don’t overdo it. Yearlings do not have a lot of patience and will easily get burned out.
Whatever your do, remember, yearlings are not mature enough to be ridden. Don’t even think about getting on his back, even if he looks big and strong. Serious damage can be done to a yearling if he is ridden. It is worth taking the time to wait until he is mature enough to hold your weight without injury.