Starting Under Saddle

“A good start isn’t something…

It’s everything.”

David prepares the horse mentally and emotionally so his first saddling and riding experiences are completely positive.

The four important steps identified by Pat Parelli for starting horses are:

Step 1. Accept the human.

Here is where it all begins.  The horse learns to trust and accept the human – totally, unconditionally, and without force.  A special language of communication is developed between horse and human using Pat Parelli’s system of the Seven Games.

Step 2.  Accept the saddle.                                                         

Saddling, cinching, and girthing are important steps and must result without fear in the horse.  We introduce the saddle in a way that the horse learns to accept it and wear it without fear.  Natural preparation helps the horse to stand willingly and confidently without being tied.

Step 3. Accept the rider.                                                                

After the first two steps are complete, riding the horse is a natural progression.  We do not use tricks, ties or hobbles because the horse is prepared and totally accepting.  First he will learn to carry the rider as a passenger and then to accept the rider’s guidance.

Step 4 . Accept the bit.                                                                  

To start a horse naturally and not ruin his confidence, we begin with a soft rope hackamore.  He learns how to follow the feel of the reins and perform every maneuver without confusion or resistance.

The bit is only introduced once the horse is prepared and ready to accept more refined and sensitive communication.

What would you like your horse to know?

Ground Skills:

  • Easy to catch
  • Ties safely
  • Stands quietly for trimming, shoeing, clipping & bathing
  • Leads respectfully
  • Yields from pressure
  • Follows directions
  • Backs-up/comes forward
  • Circles at walk & trot
  • Moves sideways
  • Goes into small spaces
  • Trailer loads easily
  • Negotiates obstacles


  • Stands quietly for saddling
  • Lowers head for bridling
  • Soft lateral flexion
  • Smooth turns
  • Backs easily
  • Accepts Direct, Indirect, & Supporting reins
  • Confident on the trail
  • Walks, trots, & canters willingly
  • Stops easily
  • Crosses water

David evaluates the horse to identify its horseanality, innate characteristics and learned behaviour.

The integration of the owner into this process is very important so they can continue to develop the partnership with their horse.

David offers Starting Under Saddle for horses at his property at Condamine, QLD.  Here he takes horses for a minimum of three weeks 15hours per week.  After the first week he will contact the owner with an assessment of their horse and its progress.  At the completion of the three weeks a handover is included, which consists of 2-3hours with David, you and your horse.  This is to integrate the owner with their horse so that they can continue with their horse’s development when they return home.

  • Fee per week, per horse – $990 for Horse Education
  • Fee per day, per horse – $25 for feed & Agistment

Please note that David recommends his 2 day course Starting a Relationship with students that have had their horse started with David, which usually follows immediately, this course is designed to set you up for success once you return home.