Mounting our horses for the first time

The latest news from Sterrehof stud

The process of breaking in our horse (plus tips)

Schooling our horses correctly starts of course with a right way of breaking them in. Our stable rider Edward van den Bragt tells more about this process that begins with bringing the youngsters from the rearing stables to the sport stable. All these horses are already halter-broke from an early age. Edward: ‘This is an advantage when we start with basic grooming. After that the first step is to lunge them a bit. When all of this goes well we put the girth on in the lunging circle. The next step is then the saddle. When they are familiar with the saddle we let down the stirrups and do a lot work from the ground with the horse. We pull at the stirrups, make some noise and tap on and behind the saddle. So they can get used to all of this with the saddle on their back.’

Minimal aids

All the ground work mentioned above is at our place in the hands of Patricia Hop. Her expertise is important, confirms Edward: ‘If the ground training is done properly the actual breaking in is much easier. When Patricia says the horse is ready for it I will start hanging on the saddle. We do this two or three times and when they are relaxed I will mount them. All of this happens in the indoor arena and after two or three times we let them loose. Patricia makes sure they keep going because I want to give as minimal aids as possible. Before I mount them we already had the horses in the indoor arena a couple of times so they get familiar with the surroundings.’

Mental load

This whole process takes around three till four weeks. Edward: ‘After that we can really start to ride them. If we think it’s still too difficult for a horse we take some extra time. I have never experienced any real problem here with a horse. Up to now I never fell off when we broke them.’

All of this is done when our horses are three years old. After this experience they go back in the pasture for almost another year. Edward: ‘We choose for this because the physical and for sure the mental load is pretty big in a short period. We also do some free jumping with them as a selection tool and we think it’s no good to continue training them till their first show.’

3 tips

With the gained experience of breaking in dozens of our horses Edward is the right person to give some useful tips:

  1. ‘Always use a belt around the neck of the horse and hold on to it when the horse starts bucking. The best thing to use is a stirrup leather. Grab the belt only with the hand in which you hold the outer rein. With the inner rein free you can still put the head a bit up when the horse wants to lower it.’
  2. ‘When you mount the horse always put the tip of your boot at the girth. It prevents you to stick an already tensed horse in the belly when you get in the saddle.’
  3. ‘Make sure you do the ground work on both sides of the horse. You often see a horse accept everything at the left but getting tensed when things are done from the other side. That’s why we jump on the ground on both sides of the horse and we tap and hang on the saddle at the left and right side.’


Sterrehof Stud always offers talented showjumpers in several age categories. Please click the image for more details on that particular horse or refer to the overview. Please contact us for more information on the horses currently for sale at our stud.


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