When to send my mini colt to a trainer? Round pen?

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Mar 16, 2022
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Hi All,

You guys have been such a guiding compass and comfort to me! I'm happy to report that everyone is settling in and happy and well-behaved right now (including my mare who was in heat and adjusting from being back from a trainer, but seems to be more relaxed now).

I'm hoping you guys can help me with a gut-check.. My newest mini, Kiwi, has been with me a few months and finished his vaccines, deworming, dentist, gelding etc. He and Cooper are friends now and Kiwi is very friendly with people including strangers. When he first arrived, he was a bit nippy/ nibbly and pushy (he'd kinda push into you if you were squatting and knock you over a little, in a friendly way looking for scratches, or try to take the lead rope and plow away, or if you'd ask him to step forward with his halter, he would be resistant/stubborn and wouldn't move forward). He reminds me of my mare, Cora. I've worked on backing him up, front and hind yields, flexing, picking up his feet and holding them, brushing + clipping, blanketing, baths, he's been great for the vet and shots. He knows how to turn onto a lounge circle both directions (but I've only do a few walk circles), trot when I start walking faster and stop when I stop when leading him. He's stopped nipping.

Cora spent 3 months at this trainer and came back very worldly, less reved-up, kinder, more grounded, better communication with me and a sense for boundaries. The trainer completed all my asks and had a very gentle, but firm/fair approach. I would like to send Kiwi to this trainer this November, but he does work fast (usually prefers horses come for a month or two and works them 5-7 days a week), always starts horses round penning and understanding pressure. I think that this is great for them, but I do wonder if I should wait til Kiwi is a bit older so his joints and body have more time to develop? He's 2 years old right now and I hope to have him the rest of his life so no big rush. I just wonder if it would be good to expose him to some training now and more later?

What are everyone's thoughts on when a mini and colt can round pen? When they can learn tricks (bow, lay down, Spanish walk, sit, liberty, etc), pulling a sled and long-lining, higher desensitization, riding and driving? I hope that the minis can do some animal therapy and eventually be safe for kids to learn on and enjoy. What are some critical things to do with them during this development time? What are some actions that should be avoided and could be scaring and may lead to a not confident horse and big setbacks later on?

Thanks for your time and thoughts!


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I would think he would be fine round penning. If you aren’t going to breed him, gelding may help you buy a bit of time if you feel you need to wait longer. You can definitely do groundwork and tricks. I wouldn’t do any riding or driving until he’s at least 3. But groundwork now will make it easier then.
There are pros and cons to round pen work. Check out some of the pros and cons.

I have a friend who is going through a Parelli program with a mentor. Her miniature horse went from a pasture ornament to a socialized boy performing all sorts of the fun things you mention. I'm not sure of the cost, but it might be something you could consider doing. It could perhaps equal a trainer cost and it would make such a good bond between you and your colt.
My personal opinion is that more time with a youngster is a good thing. Minis remain active well into their twenties so even if you started Kiwi more formally at 3 years, he has potentially 20+ years ahead, giving him another year to grow mentally and physically. (My oldest mini lived to be 34)
I start my horses at baby or as soon as I get them. No matter what age they can learn something. Standing still is the most important thing to all drivingbor manors training. I gelded my stud before sending him to a trainer for driving but I wish I would have gelded sooner as it takes time to get all the stud out. Sometimes they keep some thing they use to do, said my vet. I gelded in Jan sent him off in March. His attitude got better the father away from the gelding he got. He's super calm and sweet now.. still hangs it all out when my mare comes in heat.. but hopefully that too shall pass. 😌
If he were mine, particularly since you've already gelded him, I'd work with him on all of the activities you've already mentioned. He's two, so shorter sessions multiple times a day are better. You've already corrected some problematic behaviors and put a strong start on him. Sounds like he's adept at things some older (and bigger) horses haven't learned yet!😆

The only two things I'd wait on would be hitching to the cart and riding-until he's very matured physically AND mentally. Otherwise, continue on with tacking up, harnessing, long-lining/ground-driving, etc., etc.

Your gut may be hesitating because it knows you can do it but you're second-guessing yourself. Review what you posted and recognize how much you've accomplished on your own!! Check out some of Kelly and Mylittlepony's threads. They've kept us in the loop and shared progress. You'll also see how we support each other and celebrate successes together.

You can do it!!🤩💪💪

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