Some Questions about Saddle Breaking Minis...

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Erickson Miniature Horses

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How would you go about saddle braking a miniature horse? I assume you would have to train them to lunge and ground drive with the saddle on, but how could you get them used to having weight on their back since you can't get into the saddle yourself?

How much weight could a 31" miniature carry? How much could a 34" carry? What could be the effects from a miniature carry too much weight?

Could you send them to a large horse trainer? Could a large horse trainer, who doesn't have any experience with miniatures, correctly saddle brake a miniature? How much would you expect to pay a trainer to saddle brake your mini? Would you pay less, because it's a mini, or more because it's a mini?

How long does it take to saddle brake a miniature horse, from green to letting a child ride it? How much could you accomplish in just 3 months?
 

Rocklone Miniature Horses

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At 31" I wouldn't really bother. They would be able to carry a maybe 1-18month old who won't have much riding experience and will just lead around. A 34" could carry about 3 maybe smaller 4 /5 year old but again not going to be doing much independently. I've never broken any of mine to saddle by my mare has walked around with a kid on her back no issues at all. I think many minis are so used to people leaning over them and without thinking about it leaning on their backs when grooming and stuff that putting someone on their back isn't usually an issue.
 

JMS Miniatures

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I wouldn't spend the money on getting one professionally trained to ride, that's JMO. I would just introduce the horse to the saddle pad and saddle by throwing it on the horses back several times til the horse is calm and relaxed about it and if you can let the horse wear it for an extended period of time. Another thing you can also do to prepare the horse to a girth is taking the lead rope around his girth and tightening the rope and perhaps just a harness saddle for him to get used to the pressure. Smack the saddle around to make noise, flap the fenders. If you can get this horse trained to drive then training one for a saddle should be a piece of cake.
 

Marsha Cassada

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There is something about being on the back that my miniatures do not like. They work in harness, are handled all over, but putting something/someone on their backs and they react.

The best way I've found is to enlist a child who has riding experience. Halter leads with an adult on each side. Be prepared. The horse will either tolerate it and be fine, or he won't. Best not try it with your timid little 2 year old.

I used to have a saddle for my 32" gelding. Ended up selling it. A child small enough to use it couldn't reach the stirrups.

I occasionally put an 8 year old 50 pound child on mine to lead around. But wouldn't want to add the weight of a saddle to that.

You need to get into the B sized horses if you want to bother with a saddle.

Heck, I always rode bareback when I was a kid. Either didn't have a saddle or was too shrimpy to get it up on the horse and tighten the girth. I think it teaches balance to ride bareback.

With a 31" horse, you are looking at novelty, look-at-me-on-the-cute-horsey.
 

Miniv

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I agree about size...... A 31" horse is too small to saddle and have a child on top of that. You need a MINIMUM of a 34" mini....taller is better.

And the bone of the mini is also important....You don't want a very refined one for this. And what also a must is the horse's disposition!

We have had several minis between 34 to 38" who were wonderful and we taught them ourselves about lead lining bareback at first, and

then put a little saddle on them and THEN the child on top. It was all very gradual and in a round pen at first with two adults in attendance.
 

AngC

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I don't know about appropriate weight that your horse is able to carry. ...seems to me like I've read 20% of body weight (going on memory here, and I'm probably senile.)

Baby is 31-inch tall; when she was fatter, she weighed around 270 lb. I bought her the cutest little pack saddle. The saddle and rigging weigh about 5-7 lbs. I haven't put any weight on her yet, but at the time of purchase, I recollect that 50 lbs would be the absolute maximum.

Training Baby to wear the pack saddle has been a breeze, but we already had her trust. (...or rather had her accustomed to odd human activities.) For example, I put their hay in a bin and take it in the stalls; if someone stands their dumb-butt right in front of the door, then I used to plop the bin on whoever's back was blocking my way. That was rather funny, so then I'd walk them around with the bin on the back. When I got the pack saddle, I zip-tied all the straps and put pack saddle on Baby's back for short periods of time. Once she was accustomed to that, I did halter her (mostly due to my nervousness) and started putting the cinches on her; then the tail thingie and breast thingie. Now I can put the whole mess on her, without a halter. Right now, I'm working on putting empty bags on the pack saddle; which is kinda' funny because they're huge.
 

Max's Mom

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Some of the weight carrying limits depend upon the build, not just the height or weight of the horse. Obviously, one who has a solid build will handle more weight than a lightly built horse of the same height. And of course, each child is different. There's a 9 year old boy who rides Max from time to time, but he only weighs 45 pounds! I've always been careful to go by the child's true weight (not a guess about the weight) rather than having an age limit. In general, if the horse is healthy, he or she should be able to handle 20-25% of his/her body weight, including the saddle.

Because of the small weight limits, you probably wouldn't need to have a "professional" trainer, as most likely the children will be led rather than riding independently. As some have said, start with putting things on the horse's back, just to get them used to it. If the horse is relaxed about that, put on the saddle, then eventually the girth. IF the horse seems completely fine and relaxed being saddled and lead around with the saddle, eventually you can try carefully putting a child on, BUT I would have you or the person most familiar with the horse leading, and two people on the side of the child, able to steady the child and take her off safely should the need arise. I think you'll find out pretty quickly if the horses are relaxed about pony rides or not. I would never, ever give a pony ride if the horse seems to be anxious or spooky in any way.

Good luck and enjoy!
 

paintponylvr

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What others have said re: weight. I don't think I've ever started one under saddle that was that small, since ours are generally larger. I think the smallest we have was about 32" as a 3 yr old and our granddaughters "looked" too big when sitting on her in their winter overclothes. They weren't too big by weight. This was just "futzing" around in the pasture - no true halter, no saddle etc...



I would think part of the problem would be a saddle fitting them at that size - think most of the 10-12" seat saddles would be too long to fit a mini that is only 31" in height. Don't know about one of the mini saddles (8" seats) as they weren't out when our children were small and when I tucked one of our grand daughters into one - it didn't seem quite right so I decided we'd wait and just use a 10" seat saddle later...

As to training - because of the every day handling and the riding our children did (our youngest <the one holding the mare above> started sitting on ponies when she was not quite 2 yrs old and by the age of 4 was riding 2 small shetland (dam matured at 36", daughters matured at 37") mares and by the age of 5 was our "pony jock" - often riding and showing our 2 & 3 yr old ponies on the 15th to 30th ride in public and/or at shows!

This pic - Sierra is 22 months old and the pony stallion (AJ) matured to 45 1/4" tall (not sure how tall he is in this pic. Skye is 5 yr old, AJ<pony> is 3 yr old). The saddle is 12" seat. 2nd pic is same pony (mature) and same daughter - 5+ years later. Same saddle & pad, too! Getting some advanced lessons.

 

paintponylvr

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Here is the same saddle (12" seat) and pad on a much smaller pony mare (matured to 36") with our middle daughter riding her in first pic and younger daughter riding her in next 2 pics (with a 10" seat saddle). Yes, Sierra is wearing a dress and carrying a stick (piece of hose, actually)... Our children started out learning how to do two hands on reins and also carry a crop almost right from the start.



Yes, we did a lot of ground work - I introduced a bridle (had teeth checked) and saddle pad, then surcingle then saddle. Led - teaching voice commands, lounged and then ground drove. Checked to see where a "little's" feet would be when in the saddle (if they couldn't reach the stirrups, I checked to see where their feet would be on the ponies sides). Then I worked w/ my hand(s) - to teach the pony to move forwards off of pressure w/ 2 legs and sideways off of pressure w/ one leg. Later, the children were able to work with the ponies - getting them to move off of their legs/leg pressure.



and the pair at a show 11 days later ... they clean up nice!

 
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paintponylvr

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To learn balance - our daughters spent a lot of time just sitting on the ponies backs while they were tied and eating at their buckets. I don't have pics of that...

Here is a pic of Sierra taking her nap - often found this way during the year I still had her home and she went out to feed with me every day while the older two were in school. The ponies were 8 miles from our house, so after the older two on the bus, Sierra and I went out to the pony pasture.



Just to teach children balance, I often had them sit on ponies while they were tied during their feeding. Starting with a saddle and graduating to bareback. The ponies shift around while eating (some paw as well) and the children learn that it is ok and that nothing bad is going to happen and they aren't going to fall off. I teach them, while the pony is tied, to mount/dismount from both sides (saddle) and to mount from a bucket and slide off from either side (and from butt) while bareback. These are confidence builders for the children!!

Here is a pic of Sierra riding Patty's 97 daughter (matured @ 36" tall) english



and 2 pics of another girl riding her western... Note the saddle and pad!! (I still own both this saddle and pad - the grand daughters will be riding in them).



Also, one other thing. The inch heights I'm giving you are "true" horse measurements taken at the withers. NOT mini measurements at the last hair of the mane. So these "ponies" (the silver dapple ones) are all 1 - 2 " shorter by mini measurements and all COULD have been registered as minis. The black and white stallion is the sire of Shado and Stuffy - both out of Patty.
 

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