In equestrian art, there is no one true method, as each horse is individual.
The legendary sturdiness of Canadian Horses makes them capable of easily metabolizing the smallest amount of food, but it also makes them more likely, when overweight, to develop worrying health issues, like metabolic syndrome and laminitis. It’s therefore important to keep your Canadian Horse active and to follow a training program to keep it in good shape, which will also help promote the breed by enhancing its undeniable qualities.
As debonair as it may sometimes seem, the Canadian Horse has a sensitive temperament that does not suffer brutality. It has an excellent memory and will remember both good and bad experiences for years to come. A highly intelligent animal, it will easily outwit an inexperienced horseperson.
Considering all this, it is important for it to be trained by an experienced handler who will know how to be firm, consistent, fair, patient and attentive.
A solid foundation build on mutual trust and respect will lead to unwavering loyalty for the rest of your partnership.
From birth to breaking-in
Here are some ideas of activities you can do with your foal, from birth to breaking-in.
The most important thing is to build confidence. Avoid abrupt movements and traumatizing experiences. Be wary of reactive dogs, motor vehicles, startling noises (firecrackers, gun shots), etc. If you give the foal time to discover new things at its own pace, its curiosity will take over and its trust in you will grow.
- Providing pleasant sensations (rubbing and grooming for example)
- Teaching it how to maintain a “bubble”
- Teaching it how to have respectful and delicate contacts (no nibbling)
- Progressively getting it used to being handled (you should be able to touch any part of the foal’s body)
- Teaching it to let you pick up its feet
- Getting it used to having a halter put on and taken off
- Progressively teaching it to respond to aids (voice, traction on the lead, lower its head)
- Walking it on a lead next to its mother in a safe and familiar location.
- Learning to respect distances at all times (i.e., at feeding time)
- Progressively increasing the time spent on a lead
- Going for walks with a lead, allowing it to discover new areas and new objects (garbage bins, vehicles, signs, etc.)
- Leading it through an obstacle course (puddles, tree trunks to step over, wooden bridge, tarp on the ground, etc.)
- Increasing its responsiveness to aids (moving the hips, mobilizing the shoulders, controlling the head, walking backwards, stopping, etc.)
- Discovering new sensations (tether between the legs, rug on the back, blanket, bug spray, etc.)
- Going in and out of the trailer, first trips (going to a friend’s, going to conformation competitions, etc.)
- Acquiring independence (solo walks with a lead)
- First walks with calm and confident adults (a rider holds the foal by the lead)
- Slowly starting liberty training in a ring (keep the sessions short, a few days apart, and the movements not too fast to keep its joints healthy. Limit any galloping)
- Teaching it to go around the circle, half-turns, transitions, and voice commands (walk, trot, canter, stop, come, etc.)
- Getting it used to tack (bridle with soft bit, light English saddle or synthetic western, breast band harness, etc.)
- Going around an arena with a longe line
- Learning to use long reins
- Getting it used to mounting or harnessing, teaching positioning and patience
- Starting break-in for saddle or harness (getting it used to the rider’s weight, first steps, leg yield, upward and downward transitions, etc.)