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Posted on Sep 10, 2021 in Articles

Breaking and Backing of Horses – A note to all…..

Breaking and Backing of Horses – A note to all…..

Main Image courtesy of Schive Equestrian

I think people need to realise a few things about this service that some professional equestrians provide and learn a few hard truths!

Over the last few weeks I’ve seen and read many posts discussing backing and Breaking in of horses and the services offered and required!

The post that hit the nail on the head for me was by Schive Equestrian who no longer provide the service for a very justifiable reason…

The reason being was because at £200/week it no longer made financial sense, or any kind of sense to put my body and livelihood at such risk.. I’ve had a few hospital visits over the years from backing horses and I’m always hearing about other professionals who are becoming seriously injured through horses they’ve had in for backing.

They then usually require months off of work, are suffering from injuries that will have life long effects and have no way of covering their bills. All other professions classed as dangerous (oil rig workers, gas engineers) are rewarded greatly financially for it. Why is it different in the equine world?

I know of others who offer this service at a much cheaper rate than myself.. I just struggle to understand how this is even possible or worth their time? Look at it this way.. It would cost approx £120/week to simply have a horse on full livery.

For only an extra £80/week this is whats included in a backing livery:

2 professionals (backing a horse is a 2 person job).

Time to groom before each session

Time to wash off/brush off after each session.

Time spent catching and turning out (if the horse has issues around being caught/led, this will require extra time outside of the groundwork/ridden sessions).

Time spent teaching a horse to tie up quietly.

Time spent desensitising to equipment that will be used.

Time spent teaching ground rules and basic aids from the ground (stopping, backing up, forequarter&hindquarter yields).

Teaching horse to lunge and respond to voice cues. Teach to stand patiently and park next to mounting block.

Teach to be okay with height and sound above him (may need another horse and rider for this).

Teach to accept the bit and then respond to different cues from the hand to the bit.

Long line Teach to be okay with the saddle.

Teach to be okay with getting on and off both sides.

Installing brakes and the understanding to move forwards from the leg in walk, trot and then canter.

Teaching horse to steer.

Hacking out Possibly pop a few jumps.

The peace of mind you have knowing your horse is not going to put you in hospital as soon as you lower yourself into the saddle!

To get all of the above achieved (within the time frame of 4-6 weeks) in a correct, safe and ethical way, at least 2 hours would need to be spent working through the above with the horse 5X per week. £200/week = just over £28/day.

Just to compare, it would cost around £20/day to simply have your dog stay at a kennels! Think of all of the extra time, expertise and resources that are required to back a horse. Not to mention the danger aspect I spoke of earlier… Yet for this price I still had people attempt to bargain me down/not hear from them again once I’d revealed my price.

Now I couldn’t agree more, with the above! The services provided are greatly underpaid! Nor should we forget the cost of insurance required to provide this service as well!!

The next thing that needs to be said on this matter is …….

STOP PUTTING A TIME FRAME ON THIS SERVICE!!

A horse or pony when done correctly will not throw up any issues if time and patience is taken with the steps and process of correct breaking and in my opinion it is one of the most important steps in a equines life. This period of a horses training is vital and can set the horses path for the rest of its life. If this part is done badly the horse through no fault of its own can become dangerous to both itself and other humans. If done correctly the horse has a better chance throughout its entire life.

Think it over peeps!!

STOP TRYING TO CUT CORNERS AND SAVE MONEY!

When buying a young horse this breaking / backing service cost should be factored in!!

There is a reason young horses are slightly cheaper to purchase (sometimes not always ) ,buying a young horse is certainly not a cheap option and most certainly isn’t for novice or inexperienced riders because let me be clear , once the horse or pony is broken it will need a competent rider for sometime to continue the horses education if you can not provide this for the young horse then you should factor in a professional to come and school your horse until the horse is suitable for your ability.

A breaking service is not to take an unbacked horse and in a short time frame provide you with a bombproof schoolmaster, that’s like sending a child to school for a few weeks or months and expecting them to come out with a degree level of education!!

STOP TRYING TO DO EVERYTHING YOURSELVES THEN SENDING IT TO PROFESSIONALS TO SIT ON!! WE ARE NOT AND I REPEAT NOT CRASH TEST DUMMIES!!!

I have been breaking horses for years and have a fantastic reputation for this service but I am now being approached more and more by people who say they’ve done the ground work and the horse ‘just needs sitting on’.

Let me be real clear on this!!! If the horse just needs sitting on and your groundwork is all done then crack on and sit on the horse yourself!!! Why should we as professionals ‘sit’ on your horse and risk losing our life or being paralysed for only a few hundred pound?? Would you do it for that amount of money ??? Im guessing not seen as you’re sending it just to be sat on!!

The reason we are professionals providing this service is because we have a high standard in groundwork and we know that once the horses have reached that standard then the sitting on isn’t quite as dangerous or won’t be quite as unpredictable! . The amount of horses where people tell me the groundwork is done then when I go to check this and find out it certainly is no where near trained correctly on the ground the whole process then takes longer because now the incorrect work has to be undone and the correct work put back in!! Now I request my horses that I take in are either untouched or general handling only is done and to those who have sent horses to guys who are not great at this job or have tried themselves find themselves in a whole new price bracket as now I am problem solving as well as breaking!!

CAN SOMEONE COME TO MY YARD TO BREAK MY HORSES IN

Sick of seeing posts asking people to go out to individuals yards to break, In my opinion this is extremely dangerous!! , most professionals will only break in if horses are sent into them, this is because first of all the horses need daily work if not twice daily for some of them depending on their ability to learn and temperament. This would be rather costly to go out to someones yard. Not to mention we like to monitor what the horses is fed , how much turnout the horse gets etc and we like the horses to build a bond with us and get into a routine so the horse can learn.

When breaking, horses tack and bits needs to be changed quickly and accordingly so if the said owner doesn’t have this equipment then the whole process can get stalled, NO professional can carry a whole tack room round in their car daily to just have stuff on hand

lastly in my opinion its ,excuse my language ,but it’s a bloody dangerous job as it is and having this service done from a mobile breaker is even more risky and then the legal questions come up if there is an incident regarding insurance and liability. I think its really unfair to ask professional breakers to do this.

Unfortunately there is people out there who do not provide a great service and I have had horses come in who have been badly broken in coming to me to be sorted so please do your research and most professionals will be able to provide references. however the good ones will charge accordingly!

The question you need to ask yourselves is this , should I pay properly once or should i go cheap and it end up costing more as then you pay twice (once to be broken and once to fixed) or even worse someone gets injured – how will you feel when your child or friend gets on your horse and gets seriously injured ??? I mean would you rather spend money on match match outfits and other fashion accessories or pay to have a safe horse?

We all have a responsibility when it comes to the young horse , make sure you give your young horses the best chance in life!

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