How To Start a Three-Year-Old

In this article you will find tips and information about the basic training for a three-year old horse.

It is very important that the young horse learns to behave calmly and gently in his relationship with people. He should also develop proper manners and learn to respect behavioral rules set by us, humans.

He needs to learn to deal with our ‘human world’, so he needs to wear a halter, to let itself be touched by a human, and to get used to ‘strange’ things such as fly sprays, cars, umbrellas, ropes, lines and other ‘human’ things.

This is a process of ‘desensitization’ or ‘habituation‘.

And we can use basic groundwork, bodywork, stress & obstacle training, and trailer training to teach a horse to cooperate with us in our ‘human’ world.

Wearing a halter and cavesson

The youngster should first learn to wear a halter, to be led by the halter and to stand while tied to the halter. With the technique of ‘pressure and release‘ in combination with ‘positive reinforcement‘ you can teach a horse to be led.

Through leading the horse by its halter, you can demonstrate your guidance and leadership in a friendly way.

Click HERE for 13 Ways to Establish and Confirm your Guidance & Leadership >>

Later on the young horse also need to learn to be guided by applying the rope to the ring on the nose of the cavesson, because that is one of the main tools we use in Straightness Training:

Being touched

The horse must learn to let itself be touched everywhere. This is important in case of emergencies when a veterinary must examine the horse. Also, the horse should learn to lift its feet gently and to stand still patiently during grooming.

In horse training we often use ropes, lines, reins and whips. So the horse needs to get used to the touch of it, so it doesn’t panic once the end of a rope touches one of his legs accidentally.


Also the whip might look strange to the horse in the beginning, so you need to let the horse know that it’s just an extension of your arm and energy.

Also here you can use the process of  ‘desensitization’ or ‘habituation‘. Once the horses experiences the whip as an extension of you and your body he can start to  learn cues by using the proces of ‘conditioning‘ and once he understands the cues he will start to meet your request.

Of course the horse should feel comfortable with you using the whip. So you should never use the whip to correct or ‘punish’ a horse, and here you can read more about this:

Article: It’s always the human behind the tool >>


The young horse must learn to feel comfortable with grooming and he. It is recommended to get your horse used to the washing area, anti-fly spray and other things you need to take care of the horse.

Getting used to ‘strange’ things out of the human world

It is recommended to get your horse used to numerous ‘scary’ things such as umbrella’s, wheelbarrows, machines, traffic and other things. This will help avoid stress and dangerous situations when you take your horse into traffic, to competitions or other places.

Getting sure-footed

You can teach a horse to place its feet properly by making him step over cavallettis, over boards, tarps or through a puddle of water. This helps improve coordination and awareness of its legs and will make him sure-footed.


It is also important to take time to teach your horse to go into a trailer and stay in calmly.

Saddle pad, girth, saddle and stirrups

When the horse is about three years old, it will be trained to accept the saddle pad and saddle on his back, the girth under his belly, and the stirrups hanging next to his body.

Click HERE for more information about How To Get The Horse Used To The Saddle >>

Accepting the rider

When the horse is about three years old, it will be trained to accept the rider on his back.

Click HERE for more information about How To Get The Horse Used To The Rider >>

Straightness Training

So in order to be able to start Straightness Training, the horse first needs to learn the basic things as described above.

You will start with Groundwork:

Click HERE for the basic exercises in  Groundwork  >> 

Then you will continue with the logical system of progressive exercises as outlined in this video:

My ST Mastery Program will help you to guide your horse all the way to the higher levels, so he can reach his full potential, not only physically seen, but also in mind and spirit!

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