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Starting Under Saddle

Our horse starting philosophy
Check out our philosophy page for insight into the way we interact with horses. Our philosophy guides our training.

We do not hop on and ride our horses until we are convinced they trust us enough to do so and that we are as safe as possible. We appreciate there is always an element of risk involved when hopping on a horse for the first time, our intention is to make this risk as low as possible before actually climbing aboard. Through desensitizing and sensitizing exercises on the ground we establish a relationship and communication system with the horse that transfers to their backs. 

When we start our own horses we have all the time in the world and train them accordingly. We have a solid groundwork foundation established well before we ever plan to ride them, so when the day comes for us to 'start them under saddle' the process is already in motion and the riding part is just a natural progression.

But because as a potential client of Versatile Equines you are wishing to be riding your horse as soon as possible, there are certain time frames that need to be established. The bare minimum we feel a horse needs to have before being ridden is that; we can touch the horse all over, flex their head and neck side to side and have them comfortable with the tools we use (saddle, bridle, halter, lead, brushes, stick and string etc). If we cannot touch the horse we dread to think what would happen if we put our leg on, if the horse cannot flex their head we have no control of their direction and speed and if the horse is fearful of our tools they will not be in a relaxed state of mind for productive work.

How long will it take?
The amount of time required to start your horse under saddle would depend on the temperament of the horse, what their prior education is and what you want them to be doing by the time they come back to you.

Depending on the horse the first few days will be spent purely on the ground, getting to know the horse, introducing our tools and way of training. The essential ground work involves flexing the horses head left and right, backing the horse up, moving its hindquarters and moving its forequarters. These are essential as we need to be able to control the horses forward, back, left and right movement.

Qualities we like to have in our newly started equines
After the first 2 weeks under saddle we would be expecting our horses to be flexing their heads left and right (laterally), moving their hindquarters off our leg, backing up off light rein pressure and body language, moving through walk, trot and canter paces and doing so in a soft, responsive way- not necessarily perfect, but beginning to show they understand the concept of responding to a riders aid. This result can alter drastically from horse to horse, but from our experience once the horse is comfortable with a rider on their backs, the above steps occur naturally and easily. 

On the ground the horse should be showing respect for its handlers space and moving their feet with little resistance. We value the 'pole of knowledge' and our horses spend hours tied up together with all sorts of activities going on around them. The pole of knowledge teaches them patience, manners and respect.

From Left: Pole of knowledge, desensitizing to our tools, building a relationship

Unfortunately we currently do not have the facilities to cope with horses that are completely un-handled.

Rough price estimates
$200 per week including GST. This is for at least 5 days work per week.
The price includes grazing.
If hay or additional feeding is required this will be on top of the $200.

Please appreciate these prices are just a guide as we pride ourselves in personally tailoring our services to each individual equine and owner.