The term "broke" refers to a horse that is considered safe to ride and has all his basic manners. A broke horse should be fairly well trained and responsive to the rider. This is a horse that a rider with some experience should be able to get on and ride relatively easily and safely, depending on the horse's temperament and personality. Breaking a horse is the practice of training him to be ridden. This process is also referred to as saddle breaking. It involves teaching the young horse to accept a saddle, a bridle and the weight of the rider on his back. It also involves teaching a young horse how to to steer, stop and respond to cues on command when they are given using the reins, leg and seat.
A horse that is labeled unbroken or not broke has not been ridden before and is not considered to be rideable. These horses are often either too young to break or horses that no one ever got around to training. An adult horse that is not broke has relatively little value and is considered undesirable by most horse owners. An unbroken horse is never a good horse for a beginner or novice rider.
A horse that is described as being green broke is only partially trained and may or may not be safe to ride. Green broke horses need experienced riders and may have bad habits or simply not understand what they are supposed to do when under saddle. The definition of green broke is somewhat subjective depending on the person who is labeling the horse. Some people define a green horse as any horse that has not completely finished upper level show training while others define a green horse as one that does not buck or fight you when you sit on them. It is best to deal with green broke horses cautiously. Go slowly when working with and riding a green horse so that you will know what areas of his training have been completed and which still need work.
When To Break A Horse
Most breeds of horses are broken to ride when they are between two and three years old. It is important to wait until this age because the joints need to develop enough to support the weight of the rider. Horses that are broken too early can wind up having joint problems and soundness issues as they age. Prior to being trained to accept the saddle and rider, the young horse needs to be taught to accept a halter and should lead, stand tied and allow himself to be groomed and touched all over.
A horse that was never trained properly or that learned bad habits during the breaking process may be very dangerous. Dangerous behaviors such as bolting, bucking or rearing can be a reason that some horses are considered unbroken even if they do have some saddle training. Horses that have been partially trained and developed dangerous vices should only be dealt with by an experienced horse trainer. In some cases, the risks involved with trying to break a horse of dangerous behaviors are considered too great or insurmountable by the person responsible for training the horse and the horse is never fully broken.
- Horse and Rider Club: A Glossary of Horse Terms
- Equibase: Glossary of Racing Terms
- Chestnut Farms: The Seven Elements of a Broke Horse
- Horse Show Central: Is The Horse Broke or Trained?
- Rainbow Ag: Green Broke
- Great Brook Veterinary Clinic: Wellness Topics
- Earlham College: Dangerous Horse Behavior Policy
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.