Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I've Got a Secret............... Now What? part 2

Part 1

I decided I wasn't going to take the colt back to Richard's until he knew how to lead properly. I couldn't see wasting Richard's time, and my trailer space hauling a horse that was a monster just getting to and from the arena. I might just as well spend my time and energy teaching him his place at home.

This endeavor wasn't going to be easy. The colt had a way of throwing his head to the outside bowing his long snakey neck as he shoved his shoulder into me striking in the process. Then he'd swing his butt around trying to catch me with that hind foot. The young horse really didn't think much of being told where he could go and what he could do.

That wasn't his only issue. The colt really didn't think much of being caught even in his stall. He'd throw that head to the outside and whirl his butt into me the minute I stepped into the stall. Everything this colt did was defensive. Convincing him his new life wasn't really that bad wasn't going to be easy. But I knew it was going to be worth it so I kept working.

Mostly he'd been living outside, only coming in at night to be fed. Then the door was opened ( just like I'd seen when we'd gone to look at him) and he was allowed to run out into the pasture. If he did wear a halter it was only briefly to be clipped, trimmed or bathed.

Those things didn't happen often. He'd had clippers run over his face and ears the first week his was born. Then every now and then he was clipped up again. The bathing happened when the big name trainer came to see him and when Richard and I looked at him for that buyer. How they did those things without teaching him to respect their space and lead is beyond me. From his manners when he got here, it's clear this colt had no idea anyone but him was in charge of his feet. He intended to move those things only when and where he wanted. In other words, this colt really believed that HE was in charge of everything.

Considering this colt was pretty sure he was God's gift to the world, attitude was a big part of the issue. I happen to love horses with attitude but I also know you have to get them under control quickly or that attitude can get you hurt. This colt was a handful............a dangerous handful. Getting the colt to be obedient without harming that attitude was going to be a challenge.

I might have thought twice about my decision except I knew this colt's siblings and what kind of horses they'd grown into. I was going to have to get a handle on things quickly but do it in a manner that made sense to the horse. It was obvious he was very sensitive. Strong arm tactics would easily ruin a colt like this. Yet I had to make sure he was safe for Lindsay and Dave to work around too. I decided the best place to start was working on his manners in the stall, leading could come later.

It was clear from the start that subtle was the way to go with this colt in the stall. Any large movement would result in him climbing the walls. Just opening the door was enough to cause his eyes to bulge, his head to rise straight up and his butt to whirl. Talking in a low soothing voice and convincing him he had no reason to be defensive was the way I would go.

I started off stepping just inside the door and closing it behind me cutting off his only real escape. Then I just planted my feet and clucked softly. I didn't quit clucking until the colt finally looked at me to see what the heck I wanted. When his head began to turn my direction the clucking stopped and I spoke in a low, slow voice, "Gooooood." Then I'd just stand and let him think.

The minute he'd start to turn away, I'd repeat this process. I didn't move towards him at all even though I really like to touch my horses to reward them. For now the sound of my voice and the lack of "pressure" from the cluck would have to be it. The last thing this colt wanted was to be touched by me. You'd have thought I was trying to touch a wild mustang. Little baby steps were exactly what this colt needed.

It took a week before I could actually touch the horse without him trying to run from me. I still had to trap him to put a halter on but he wasn't climbing the walls any longer. I'd get my arms around his neck as he was up against the wall to "capture" him. Trying to put the halter on he'd throw his head the opposite direction with his nose up in the air. It's a good thing I have long arms because that's what it took to get the halter in place.

To be continued..........

Stall Work

Dare is getting closer to foaling. live webcam

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  1. good thing you did not want to show him as soon as you got him home!

  2. Oh the adventures of the untamed... I have several, but sounds like you've got a handle on his particular brand of reasoning. :)

    Had an adventure with my own young stallion today, he decided he was the 'man' and went to visit the girls... He chose the wrong herd to visit (the in foal mares) and ended up with a nice chunk of skin hanging from his lower jaw.... He'll be fine, but he's now sporting some nice pink (stitches) accesories on his jaw. :) The question is... Did he learn anything?

  3. Man that colt is a little mr! I'm loving this series! I can't wait to see how he turns out when he's older. Once you get done with him, he's going to be on fire :)

  4. This post serves as a reminder to me of how far Poco and I have come. I admire your decision to commit to your colt. Many people would have labeled him ruined and walked away.

    I can't wait to hear more!

  5. I'm really glad you are telling us your process of re-training this boy.

    Thanks for all updates on Dare. I can't use the webcam link with my Mac.

  6. good grief! sometimes they can be such a handful, but with your experience, It sounds like he'll get there!

  7. What a little stinker!
    It was good that you could "read" him to see that quiet persistance is what you need to maintain that ego of his and get somewhere too. I like the horses with some personality too. But, it is helpful to know you are not gonna die trying to handle them!

  8. I'm glad there are people like you out there to tame colts like him, but my word it sounds dangerous! I'd be afraid to get in the stall with him.

    I hope you value yourself as much as you value horses -- you're irreplaceable!