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Basic Skills for Young Horses

Basic skills are all the things that a horse needs to know to handle life easily and be easy to handle!! It's all the non-glamorous stuff that doesn't get you a rosette but is a real pain if your horse can't do it...

It includes things like:-

✅ handling all over ✅ leading ✅ tying ✅ picking up feet ✅ trimming and shoeing prep ✅ needle prep ✅ clipper prep ✅ loading and travelling

These can all be taught in the first 1 or 2 years and will prepare them for a lot of the things they will come across even in their early years.

Young horses tend to spend a lot of time turned out in the fields 🐎 Whilst this is great for them mentally and physically I believe it’s also important that they learn to be calm and confident in a stable. Bringing them in for few days at a time with other calm horses around them is great experience for what’s to come.

Once they’ve done this a couple of times you could plan for them to come in when the farrier is around or when other horses are being clipped. This will help them get used all the strange noises and equipment without having anything done directly to them.

It’s also good for them to be in an environment where horses come and go so they can get used to other horses leaving and coming back. This will help avoid problems like separation anxiety.

Planned and carried out well you could spend the first 1 or 2 years working on these sorts of experiences building them up. So coming in for clipping day will naturally turn into having the clippers run all over their bodies. Standing while other horses get shod turns into being trimmed themselves as well. Coming in to have a snack on the trailer can turn into going for a little trip with a calm buddy and so on.

If you can introduce little tasks like this into your routine with your baby their skills can build up seamlessly and easily so nothing is a big deal.


Before trying any training technique it is important to rule out pain or discomfort. Saddle fit, teeth, back, hoof balance and lameness issues should all be checked by a qualified professional before applying any training.

If you have questions or need idea's to help with a specific problem feel free to get in touch with me on


Lyla has been helping riders and their horses in the UK, USA and Europe for over 15 years. She has prepared horses for crowds of over 6,000 people with no calmers or ear plugs for venues including Birmingham NEC, Aintree, Bury Farm EC and Hartpury.

Lyla specialises in horse psychology and behaviour problems with a specific interest in dressage and has worked with horses from grass roots to Grand Prix across the UK and Europe including international competitors and Olympians from Spain, the US, Canada and the UK.

See or email for more details.


All training techniques discussed are from experience only, it is impossible for to accurately advise on horse/rider combinations without seeing them live. Lyla Cansfield & Equine Mind & Body Training strongly advise anyone considering using any of the techniques discussed to get live help and can take no responsibility for the outcome of applying any of the techniques discussed with or without supervision. Riding is a high risk sport.


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