I am in the process of breaking in a 3-year-old filly. She is very sweet and well mannered, and I can hop on her and ride her around bareback with a halter all the time. I am currently in the process of teaching her how to allow a saddle to be placed on her back. It took awhile, but she will now let that happen.
I am, however, concerned how well she will take to blankets, bits, and girths. Can you please tell me how I should approach these stages?
It sounds as though you are making good progress in your training. However, I am not sure if by blanket you mean saddle blanket or body blanket. I am sure I would be safe to assume you mean body blanket. This phase is too far away to even consider now. It you live where the weather is very cold, I can see your concern. Horses adapt to weather conditions very nicely. The main consideration here is proper shelter from the winter wind and proper ‘warm me up’ food and good clean water.
Introduction is the most important phase of training. It begins their mind set to accepting that which is being introduced. It set the stage for easy training continuation and allows both of you to reach each phase with a happier and more gratifying attitude.
Since you have started with the saddle, then you should continue with all aspects of the saddle and girthing up. Be prepared for a possible bumpy start. Place the girth on snug, but not tight. As she becomes accustom to the feel of it and settles down, tighten it up more each time until you have the full pull. Then it’s just a matter of unsaddling and saddling with proper girth usage.
As for the bit, first pick a bit that will aid in developing the jaw ‘bar’ and acclimate her to the pull of it to his pole. A light-weight side-to-side pull snaffle rig is best. This rig should stay on your horse for at least 7-10 days, 24 hours a day. She needs to eat, drink, sleep and graze with it on. During those days (preferably after the third to forth day) begin longeing her with the bit on. Remember, she will be sore a little so do this phase with light, caring hands and for short periods only. We don’t want her to develop a ‘hard mouth’.
Take your time, don’t rush any phase. Sometime we rush the training then later wonder why our horse acts the way he does. We blame them and not ourselves for their behaviors. Plan your training to be constant, consistent and solid. Always have a contingency plan. Be gentle but firm, caring but domineering, patient but consistent. Good Luck!
Training Content Director