Unbacked 8yr old


New Member
Aug 5, 2021
iv been offered a project horse, an 8yr old Irish draught mare. Unbroken and apparently never been tried to back. Has apparently been driven though. Is it worth taking on? Very nice looking horse and im pretty confident in my experience but is it going to be a nightmare to back and work with

chunky monkey

Well-Known Member
May 2, 2007
If you feel you have enough experience and can maybe get some help if things start going awry.
But regardless of it being broken to drive go back to the beginning and restart it, cementing in the groundwork. Some bits you will fly through. If it does have good temperament and the ground work was put in as it was being broken to drive backing it should be easier.


Super Moderator
Staff member
Jan 6, 2006
I would want to know why she's unbacked at that age, and if they genuinely have never tried why that is. Totally unbacked is bad enough, but a failed backing - as you seem to realise yourself - is far worse.

What is your feel about her from the ground? I grew up around the breed and owned one for years and more than many breeds I'd say you want to gel with one, particularly if it's a bright one - if you have a serious brain to go with the power and athleticism of a good ID then you need it working on your side!

Another factor to consider is is she registered? If backing her doesn't go well then a well bred RID mare would have breeding prospects.

Physically her age isn't a problem, it's the mental side of things that would concern me. That said if she's been driven she's used to taking instruction and working with people so it may be less of an issue. Even more than normal though I would say make sure each stage is very firmly established before going any further.


Well-Known Member
Dec 20, 2004
Suffolk, UK
I wouldn't be too worried if you have the experience and she's been a driving horse and they just chose never to ride her, once driven they're normally pretty easy to back but you still need to start from scratch as if she's never been touched (to fill in any gaps) and pay extra attention to desensitizing to sights as she may not have seen a lot if always been worked in blinkers.


Jane&Sid these days!
Apr 30, 2010
Surrey Hills
What an offer, wow!

Driving horses can sometimes have been trained in a way that's not helpful for ridden work, as @chunky monkey says it would be best to go back to square 1. But an ID (is she registered?) is a wonderful horse. They mostly have excellent temperaments, though one or two of them are more sensitive than others, as some people on here know from personal experience!

If you want to see how you click with her, tack her up and do some long reining. See how she responds to you and whether she is soft to yield. You'll get a feel for her, I'm sure.

I adore IDs and would love to see a picture if and when you can post one.
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