Craig Schmersal reining horses

How I Start My 2-Year-Old Horses

Hi All! 

I hope you had a wonderful holiday. I enjoyed mine with lots of family and friends. For me, it’s a great time of year to reflect on the past and set goals for the future. As many of you are starting 2-year-olds, I thought I would touch on a few things I do with mine.

Obviously we have a lot invested in these babies. We have either bred them or purchased them — it has taken two years of waiting to get to the point of finally being able to ride them. The first thing I want to stress is to take your time! You have waited this long, so don’t throw everything at them at once.


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Getting the babies trained! #Futurity2020 #barebackrides #schmersalreininghorses

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My program starts with the round pen in a halter. We spend a lot of time sacking them out and teaching them to stand still. We get on and off of them from both sides bareback. We hobble them to teach them to hold still and not panic if they were ever in a situation where they got tangled up in something. These are lifelong lessons that stay with these horses for forever.

When we move to the saddle, we put our first rides on them in the halter. When they are comfortable and steering, we move to the hackamore. The snaffle comes later. Each horse handles things differently. We may be on one within a week, others will take longer. My point is to not get in a hurry. These are some of the most important days you will spend with your horses. They are first impressions, and most horses do not forget them.

I have had clients tell me, “Well, I will just start them at home and bring them when they are ready.” I am not personally a fan of that. I have a program — from start to finish — that produces kind, happy, safe, broke horses. Some of the worst ones I have had spent too much time with a well-meaning owner.

I strongly recommend you spend the money to have a very experienced program start your horses. It is no different than sending your child to the very best preschool. The result will pay off in the end!