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Trainer Q&A - Ground Work (with/without Round Pen) - Training Two year old

Training Two year old

Mistytamara Asks:

I have a two year old Arabian which I wish to train using a surcingle. Although I have trained many horses before, all were of riding age. I have "never" used a surcingle before nor do I know how to use it. now that I have it, it would be nice to use it. Plus others say it is a great way to get her ready for riding. So .... how do I use it? Thank you for your time ... Tamara

Our Trainer Answers:

Hello Tamara,

The surcingle is a wonderful training tool, especially for young horses like your Arabian who is not old enough to ride. You can teach your filly to drive with this wonderful tool long before you can ride her. Driving does not only teach young horses to rein, but it also strengthens their back, neck, and hind quarters; which will help them a lot as they learn to collect. This strength is essential to hold collection. As the advance in driving, adjustment to the driving equipment can be made to teach them to collect while driving. The surcingle is also a safe way to teach young horse to accept a girth/cinch, without the risk of a 1st time cinch with a saddle.

Teaching them to wear this tool is usually very simple with a well handled youngster. The surcingle is placed over the back and cinched up the same as a saddle. Take your time tightening it up and don’t turn them loose until its snug, you don’t want it spinning or sliding back, that would be asking for a wreck. Like any other piece of our equipment it needs to fit properly.


*** By the time I introduce the surcingle a lot of ground work has been completed, including solid lunging skills, including all gates & whoa voice commands.


Once it is secure you can lunge them for a few days (if necessary) until they are comfortable wearing it. Then you can add one line at a time teaching them to go each direction with a single line switching out the line (from halter to through the surcingle rings). Once they are comfortable with the line on each side then you can ad the other line, one on both sides. I drive from the safety of the center a round pen to start, switching the lines over their back when I ask them to reverse (especially for youngsters). You can always work towards driving from the rear if your intent is to teach them to cart, but is not necessary for a saddle horse…


*** I always start them driving in a halter (using the side rings) before using a bit.


*** When choosing a ring on the surcingle I always chose the one that fits the horse’s natural headset first, as you progress you can adjust this to fit the desired headset for their specific discipline.


*** You may have to make some adjustments in your ground work if you have taught them to turn in and face when lunging them… This will cause problems when you drive them. Teach them to whoa on the rail & not turn in OR teach them to do both; turn in & turn out, using different cues.


If you have trained a lot then I am assuming you drive your horses before riding??? However, I know plenty of people who do not, I happen to find it essential.


I would love to hear how this works out for you and your horses Tamara. Please feel free to ask more questions if I have not addressed specific concerns.


Best Wishes!


Ps. If you would like pictures to help guide you please post again & I will set something up for you to help guide you. I hope to add some video's soon of basics like this.