Are all 2 year old horses jerks?

“Dear Stacy, Are all 2 year olds jerks? My young boy is 2 1/2 and he’s just a brat. He’s so smart and will be great one day but he really has our number and doesn’t hesitate to pin his ears and even threaten to kick us from time to time. He’s also a nibbler…aka…acts like he wants to bite. We haven’t done too much with him because its takes such commitment to make sure we don’t let him win. I don’t know if he needs a new owner or time to mature. Help.”-Apryl B.

two year oldThe things that you are describing are not things that tend to go away simply with age. While wine may ‘mature’ when left alone in barrels horses mature with training.  Imagine a six year old child that acts disrespectful or even threatening, leaving them alone until they are fourteen is not likely to improve the situation. The same is true with horses…only they are much bigger.

Horses come with a variety of temperaments and some are more difficult or challenging than others. These horses do require more of a commitment just to keep them respectful which seems to be what you are describing.  You did not mention if he was a stallion or a gelding but if he hasn’t been gelded yet I would highly recommend doing so.

No, they are not all jerks. If you go back and look at Jac in this episode he was two and a half and well behaved, but if you go back and look at Episode 3 he was a handful. He matured because of the training. If you have the time to invest as well as the desire then he still might be a good fit. If, however, you don’t have the time to commit or find that he is more than you can handle you should probably look at other options.

12 Comments

  1. Lelia Bradley on December 22, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Maybe you need to put him in the hands of a real trainer. It sounds like you are not the right fit for his training needs!!!

  2. Tiffany C. on December 22, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Great question and response! My mare’s 3-year-old year was a dream. Her 4-year-old year has been challenging. She tests and asks a lot of questions lately. At what point do you consider them “teenagers?” Is this just a phase? I feel like I am consistent, but there is always room to improve. Is there a pattern to maturity for horses?

  3. Kim Ayers on December 21, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    Thankfully I have had the opposite experience. I am blessed to have all of my girls on horses that we have bred and raised. As 2yr olds we always said they were born broke. I think it all comes down to an understanding of each other. Like begets like so they say. Raised with love and understanding, you can usually coax that out of your equine friends. Granted, 2 is usually that age where a colt learns that he is a stud, so he might make a mighty nice gelding! I think the secret to Stacy’s success is that she understands each horse as an individual, and always listens to what they have to say.

  4. Bev on December 21, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    If the owner has the skills sets, knowledge,and experience to train a 2 year old that would be great. If not, the horse needs to go to a trainer or a new home soon, before someone gets hurt.

  5. jodie on December 21, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    I have a now 4 yr old mare which ive had since 16 months, she bit then and continues to bite now, will also pin her ears, she is trained, very respectful under saddle and with ground work, but daily she will test me, and daily i have to send her back and get her to move her feet. Waiting for that day when she just decides to stop, but my trainer said that she may never. Its a pain, cause when she is turned out for a rest, she gets far worse

  6. Carolyn Cook on December 21, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    We have a coming two year old Warmblood Tennessee Walker filly (bad fencing at a boarding facility to thank for that weird cross) and we have handled her since birth; while she has developed more attitude over time she is very trusting and willing to learn new things all the time. She’s already 14.2 hh tall so we know that any bad behaviors she has now need to be dealt with before she gets to be full grown and cause serious damage. Over the past year and nine months we’ve halter broke her, trained to stand for farriering and grooming, started pulling a drag in harness, crossed under and over tarps, tacked up with light riding gear, jumped over a small cavaletti at liberty, ponied and worked with other horses around, loaded in and out of trailers, and has been started with bitting. As a coming two year old she has exhibited a lot more spunk and tests our patience a lot more, but she’s still respectful and understands that some behaviors are not worth repeating. She has been safely led and lunged by a young girl with supervision and never showed any sign of aggressive or dangerous behavior. There are so many things you can teach a horse without having to get on their back that prepares them for riding later on in life; I personally find it sets them up for success more so than jumping on them as one or two year olds and making them run until they give up. I’m very much an advocate for teaching young horses to drive before riding as it does give you a reason to work with them as young horses and develop their minds and work ethic while they build up the physical strength to carry a rider. If you can afford to take the time and not rush things it makes for a better relationship with your horse in the long run.

  7. Lizi on December 21, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    No, they are not. My 2 year old is usually a really good boy, but I was playing with him since birth. As a yearling I saddled him with a pony saddle, it never bothered him at all. Then I started bridling him it wasn’t his favorite but it didn’t bother him too much. I can ride him bareback or with a saddle, and sometimes bridleless. He was just started in March. He’s not always a good boy but he does try for the most part. He’s lazy lol. 🙂

  8. Cher Golden Lago on December 21, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Very good advice for us all. Thank you, Stacey.

  9. mike dalench on December 21, 2014 at 8:40 am

    you just have to put in the time. i have worked with alot of horses and the one that is the same is be consistent and that is what yo have to do. you are the leader. they have to respected you. so do your groundwork and you will start seeing changes maby note rite away but they can be small and saddle
    and like stacy said if you dont have the time find someone who can help you. good luck

  10. firnhyde on December 21, 2014 at 2:54 am

    I have heard it said that two-year-olds are in a bit of a “tantrum zone” as they are going through much the same changes as human teenagers. Some trainers I’ve read have even recommended avoiding training new things between the ages of 18 and 36 months. Personally, I had one two-year-old who was a real pain and did improve over time, but the one I’ve trained (in my eyes) most correctly showed no change during this period, and he was going through the backing process and learning a lot of new things at this time.
    Thanks for your thoughts, Stacy.

  11. Rosie on December 21, 2014 at 1:39 am

    They are babies, and like children will constantly be testing their environment. Stacy, I like the way you referenced the fact that young horses continually ‘ask questions’ and it is the consistency of the reply that helps them to get the right answer and ‘behave’. And like children, they all have very individual personalities, so some will be more of a handful than others in the training process.

  12. Mathilde on December 21, 2014 at 1:23 am

    I’d be doing lots of ground work with him. He tries to kick out or be dominant, make him move in a circle around you.

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