Should I Buy a Youngster?

Question :

I am currently looking at buying a 7 months old Fresian Colt. He is just to cute for words. But I have read some of the other Backing Training questions and answers and are now not so sure anymore! Is it better to buy your horse young, or is it better to buy a horse that has already been backed?


How fantastic! You are so lucky to be starting off on an incredible journey with your new horse and I really wish you the very best of luck! Backing a youngster can be very challenging, and the more one reads up on the subject, the more confusing it can all get and the more scary it can be! There is no right or wrong way of getting a horse - whether it is a youngster that needs to be backed, or an older horse that has already been backed but still needs schooling or even a horse that has been under saddle for a while. What is important is that you recognise your strengths and weaknesses. That is the ONLY place people ever go wrong! We often keep going and keep going until things fall to pieces badly and somehow we still won't accept that we need help! In the end, it is unfortunately the poor horse that suffers.
Get a youngster by all means, but know exactly how you want to proceed with his training and what you want to achieve. I would call in the help of a professional without question - there is no shame in that! You can still take ownership of the entire training process, but with an experienced eye over your shoulder making sure that you are heading in the right direction. You need to sit down and write down exactly what you are planning to do with your horse in the next few years and what your goals are for him as an adult. (A five year plan, if you will.) Ask your expert to help you with this. Then decide what it is you need to do to achieve those goals. Also, if you don't agree with your chosen trainers methods or goals, get a second opinion. Don't just accept everything at face value.
Educate yourself - read up, ask questions and go watch as many people working with young horses as you can. Know when to step back and leave it to the experts!
When it comes to the actual backing, get help - it is not a difficult process, however if things do go wrong it is often very difficult to repair and sometimes one just does not have the experience to know exactly what to do in the moment.
Fresians are superb horses to work with and they are wonderful to train, however their keeness to learn means that they pick up nasty habits as eagerly as they do the good ones!

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