05 April 2011

Starting Colts - What That Means...

Compa's first ride was everything I thought it would be. He was calm, accepting and curious about what I wanted. He was dependable and quiet, which kept me safe.

An uneducated horse (usually a colt) = uneducated in the ways of humans. Sometimes we fail to remember that horses are completely educated in the ways of being horses. That means they express themselves in a manner that is uncomfortable for us, but certainly not uncomfortable for them. In fact, stopping their ways and mannerisms is uncomfortable for them. It's not natural for them to carry a dead cow strapped tightly around their ribs and it's not natural for them to accept a human on their back. If it was natural for them, then anyone could walk up to a colt, get on and have a safe ride. If it was natural for them to carry humans, then why do so many of them buck like crazy to get that first rider off? They have to be taught that saddles and riders controlling them from above are ok. That we will not hurt them. Remember! From their point of view no horse would try to control them from directly above them.

Starting colts takes time. It requires an understanding of their perspective. In Compa's case, I needed to teach him mentally and emotionally first. That means he had to learn to connect with me mentally. When I had an idea, he had to figure out what that idea was. The idea might be "come here". Maybe my idea was "go that way at a trot for 10 circles". Maybe my idea was "follow me no matter what happens".  Then he learned to connect with me emotionally. He had to learn to trust me so much that no matter what happened around him, I would protect him. He learned to completely rely on me. And that process kept me safe during our first ride.

Lastly, when starting colts, it is detrimental to the horse and the rider to exhibit worry, anxiety or fear. Those emotions will cause a colt to be worried, anxious and fearful. If the handler takes the time to start the colt correctly, there is no reason to have those emotions. Getting on the first time should feel like getting on a school master - the horse is prepared and ready for anything the handler has to offer...

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