Ohio Icelandic Horses, 3 1/2 months old being handled by an  Advanced Beginner

Question: I have two Icelandic foals, both were just weaned within the  last few days. One is a colt 15 weeks old the other a filly 17 weeks old.

 I would like to know what type of training I should be doing with them
 and at what age to start them to saddle.

From Panelist Lukka

The icelandic horse is not started under saddle untill 4 years old, and then
only asked for light work untill it's getting 6 years old.  But then you can
also often ride them untill they're 25 years old or older.
It is important not to work youngsters very hard, and the young weanlings you
have do only need the basic training to be easy to handle.  They need to learn
to be haltered, to be led, to trailer-load, to have their feet trimmed, to
tolerate fly spray and baths and other such basic things.  Otherwise, they just
need space and time to be allowed to be youngsters and have fun.  It's good
that they are two together, so they can play together.


From Panelist Laura
Remember that these two horses are babies and keep their "work" sessions 
short.  Just work for a few minutes each day.  You can increase the time you 
work with them when they are older.  You should probably work on such things 
as leading, stopping, picking up their feet, grooming, leading over small 
obstacles (poles, plywood, tarps, etc), and get them used to getting in the 
trailer, fly spray, clippers and blankets.

You should wait until they are at least 2 or 3 years old before starting 
under saddle.  When they are ready to start depends on their physical & 
mental maturity.  I feel it is better to start your horses later rather than 
earlier.  You will have your horse for many years and an extra year or two 
delay at the beginning of their lives is a small price to pay for a sound, 
happy horse for the rest of their lives.   Waiting until your babies are 4 or 
5 is not unreasonable if they are "late bloomers."


From Panelist Christine

I wonder why you weaned your foals so young? Unless the mares are in poor condition most breeders with Icelandics leave the foals with their mothers until they are 6 months at the earliest, but usually 8-9 months old.
As a breed that matures more slowly the foals thrive on being with their mothers a bit longer, not only physically, but most importantly emotionally. 
It is ideal for the young horses to grow up in a herd to learn respect from the other horses. A lot of room is needed to allow them to develop their muscles and lungs and learn about coordination by playing, running and climbing hills.

As Lukka said they won't be ready to be started lightly under saddle until they are 4 years old and then ready to work more the following year. It is a long wait, but you will then have a useful riding horse well into his twenties or even 30's.
Good luck

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