From The Ground Up
All building projects require a good solid foundation; and training your young colt or filly is a series of building on each small lesson learned.
You began by handling him soon after birth and over time he’s come to realize that you are “safe” and not going to harm him. But there is usually, at the very least, a good two year span between birth and your first ride; while the young animal is allowed to mature and develop strong muscles.
By the end of its first year, your foal should be "halter-broken" and have learned to be led; walking, trotting, and stopping at your command. Once your foal has accepted a halter and has learned to walk docilely beside you, the time has come to get it accustomed to the feel of reins and bit pressure.
This type of ground work can best be accomplished with the young horse traveling around the circumference of a large circle at the end of a 30 foot longe line; with the trainer standing in the center, holding the other end of the line.
Longeing your young horse has many benefits for both it and you. Training at the end of a longe line teaches your colt or filly to pay attention to your hand and voice commands, as well as your body language. This, then teaches it to rely on you; and can help it remain calm in unusual or stressful situations. Longeing can also be a great aid in helping your young horse develop balance and rhythm; thus improving its various gaits.
Placing a blanket and saddle on your young horse while longing can lessen the terror of having something on its back, gradually accustoming it to the idea of actually being ridden.
If your horse spends most of its time stabled, or is especially high-strung, longing can also be a great way to get rid of some excess energy. You can then get down to serious work.
It is necessary for your horse to understand that longing is not play, but work; and can even be a good source of discipline, if your horse is recalictrant and refuses to co-operate at any point in its training.