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Isle_Dustem

My First Colt, He Is 2 Now, What Else To Do With Him?

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Hello everyone!

It has been a long minute since I have been on here. Last year in April my boyfriend and I made a long trip up to Montana to pick up a yearling colt, but unfortunately when we go there the colt I was supposed to by had an injury that they didn't tell me about, and was nothing but short of what they told me about him. So basically.. we came home with a different colt, who is now called Casanova. He is very well bred and is extremely smart! I have done a lot of ground work with him over the next year and a half.. he was 11 months when we got him and he is now 2 years and 4 months old. He knows how to stand quietly, pick up his feed, load, lunge, knows voice commands, is not scared of anything, knows how to pony, has been hauled to some shows to see the sights and sounds and 3 out of the 4 shows, he handled it like a pro. The last one he was a bit silly, but he hadn't been out in a while and he was being silly.

He is currently saddle broke, has been taught to give to the halter, is super soft, we have introduced the bit on him and I am planning to put 30 days on him as a 2 year old then come back when he is 3.

Here are few pics of my boy..

The day we got him..

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As a yearling..

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Taking him for a walk around the neighborhood

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And recent..

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Mylove_zps46d0da6b.jpg

He has been coming along with a lot of things, like I said he is my first baby and there are some things I am running into now that he is older. Like when I go to saddle him.. he starts to get real pushy. Not enough to where he is setting back or trying to hurt me, he just swings his butt around and moves around a lot. I get after him but I'm think there could be a better way? Like should I take the saddle off, lunge him and and then try again? or what is a correct way to do it? He knows voice command and is extremely smart, I know he is just testing me. Then with introducing the bit (I am honestly thinking of starting him in a halter just because he is SO soft in the face.. but I think it's important for him to know what a bit is so its not such a shock later), like do I just leave it in his mouth and let him figure it out? He will tolerate it for a little bit but then he'll start fussing with it and trying to spit it out, then he'll start shaking his head wondering why it won't come out. lol Any thoughts or idea's would be great, and anything else I could do with him too! I'm sure there is much out there to know, I just need to learn! Thank yooou!

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It sounds like you've done a fine job getting a good foundation on this colt. I'd do a little more than just let him carry a bit in his mouth. Start long-lining him from the ground so he learns the bit has a purpose and is not just there to annoy him. Keeping his mind engaged looking for proper responses to the bit will be a lot more productive than just letting him 'get used to it' being there for no apparent reason.

As for the fidgeting while being saddled, that's a respect issue. It's hard not to overly protect and tippy-toe around babies when you first get them. Familiarity breeds contempt. And he's finding his chops as a coming adult, starting to exhibit normal herd hierarchy behavior by testing the relationship and apparently winning. It looks like you have a round pen or small paddock to work in. When he starts encroaching or pushing during saddling I'd energetically send him away immediately, even if he runs out from underneath the saddle, and keep him going at a lope or trot until he starts licking and chewing. Then let him come back into you and start saddling again. Repeat as necessary. Sooner or later he will understand the reprimand and find on his own it's much easier to quietly cooperate.

Anytime you introduce something new into his world have a plan to immediately put it to work and engage his mind. Horses learn by trial and error. Make the wrong response hard and the correct response easy by applying mental & physical pressure until he finds the correct response and then immediately release the pressure for at least 30 seconds so he can think about what he did to make the pressure go away. That's sufficient "reward" for the horse to make his own changes in behavior.

Keep up the good work! ~FH

Edited by FloridaHorseman

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Thank you so much for the advice!

As far as the bit goes, I understand what you are saying but as far as the lunging goes does that mean you want me to lace it through the bit, around his poll and attach on the other side? I have worked with him as far as giving to the bit on both sides, and you barely have to touch him before his nose is to his stirrup. I try not to over do it because he is so young.. I also have been planning on doing some ground driving with him to teach him some vertical flexion, and obviously the bit will play into that as well. I just have been lazy on getting around to it lol So can you elaborate on that for me a bit so I understand better? :)

And I have spoken to a couple of my friends and they have said the same thing with sending him off, I really do appreciate the info! But when you send him off, so basically if the saddle is not done all the way just let him go and if it falls off, it falls off? I would think that would scare him? Or does it matter? Or should I pull it off then send him?

Thank you sooo much!!

Edited by Dash For Desire

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When you send him away do it immediately and don't worry about the saddle. If it falls off it falls off. If it slips around underneath his belly, same thing. Let him go and it's just something else he'll have to learn to deal with. He'll eventually stop and look to you for help. Then just step in quietly, strip the cinch loose and let the saddle fall away. If he takes off again, that's fine. Keep sending him away until he calms down and does some licking and chewing. Then you can stop driving him away and see if he comes in to you or stands facing you. Either is acceptable.Then you can collect him and start again.

No. Do not longe him on a bit. I was referring to driving him from the ground on long lines. You can use two longe lines for the reins and a surcingle or a saddle with the stirrups hobbled together. Here's a link to a video I did with my Arab gelding in his early training using the long lines and a saddle. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eA6r8QUPPds

Hope this helps. ~FH

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maybe i'm seeing the pictures at a bad angle, but it looks to me like he has a swayback and working on a thorax that's inverted?? if you can encourage him to travel with his head long and low, that back will come up and the neck will relax.

lateral work on the double lunge will help a lot as well.

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Florida Horseman, did you get him very used to ropes around his butt and hind legs before starting that? He seems very skittish about those ropes.

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Florida Horseman, did you get him very used to ropes around his butt and hind legs before starting that? He seems very skittish about those ropes.

That's a very good observation, Rose. But to answer your question, actually no. I did not desensitize him first. There's some history behind this particular horse. The Cliff's Notes version is here: http://www.forums.arabianbreeders.net/topic/49335-halter-abuse/page__st__120

(Scroll down to post #122)

Also, over the years I've found getting horses started on a bit with long lining goes easier BEFORE desensitizing to ropes and hobbles. They're much easier to move out, get impulsion and have them seek relief from all the new pressures by listening to my hands and new verbal commands. Long lining some horses that are already comfortable with ropes often requires the use of a longe whip. And the LAST thing this particular horse needed to see was a whip. Also, desensitization to the lines begins concurrently with the long lining sessions. After I have installed reliable responses to my hands, voice commands and the bit is when I do the rope and hobble sacking exercises. Of course, I always do long lining in a round pen or small paddock area, so it's impossible for the horse to break loose or bolt off and drag me around a pasture or get into a tug-O'-war I cannot win. It's part of my overall training concept of always setting up conditions where the trainer and the horse can both win.

For those who do not have the convenience of a round pen or small paddock to long line in I would certainly advise rope and hobble desensitization first. ~FH

Edited by FloridaHorseman

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Thank you for the information!

I do have a few questions on that video.. as I have never seen anything like that before lol When the horse is square and you are "bumping" the horse, I am guessing you are teaching the horse to back up. What about your leg cues when you are on their back? Just curious!

And I had a thought of another thing I am wondering how to deal with. My colt loads amazing in the straight loads, he is great, jumps right in and no problems. There have been times when I hauled with my gelding, and I pull out my gelding first and while I was putting him away, my colt reared up in the trailer and caught his front legs in the manger. The first time, I freaked out and ran to him and pulled him out right away and then loaded him back up.. just to make sure he would load back up, and he was fine. The second time, he did it and I didn't fret I just kinda let him realize he was going to have to wait for me to save him because that was his own fault.. and he should have been patient, and eventually I got him free, pulled him out and threw him back in there just to make sure again, he wasn't afraid and he was fine. What is a good way to make sure he doesn't do this in the future?

Edited by Dash For Desire

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Thanks for clarifying that,, FL I see your point. I, myself, probably could not do it that way, though, and my hat's off to you.

I taught my Rosie to ground drive after desensitizing to ropes. She caught on very fast. I have not done the long lining like you did here, though. But Rosie does not have the issues your horse did.

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Thank you for the information!

I do have a few questions on that video.. as I have never seen anything like that before lol When the horse is square and you are "bumping" the horse, I am guessing you are teaching the horse to back up. What about your leg cues when you are on their back? Just curious!

And I had a thought of another thing I am wondering how to deal with. My colt loads amazing in the straight loads, he is great, jumps right in and no problems. There have been times when I hauled with my gelding, and I pull out my gelding first and while I was putting him away, my colt reared up in the trailer and caught his front legs in the manger. The first time, I freaked out and ran to him and pulled him out right away and then loaded him back up.. just to make sure he would load back up, and he was fine. The second time, he did it and I didn't fret I just kinda let him realize he was going to have to wait for me to save him because that was his own fault.. and he should have been patient, and eventually I got him free, pulled him out and threw him back in there just to make sure again, he wasn't afraid and he was fine. What is a good way to make sure he doesn't do this in the future?

Yes. That was a session intended to teach preliminary turning (yielding to side pressure) and backing up solely by cues from the snaffle. Bumping him back from the ground is basically the same as from the saddle. But let me first explain "bumping" with a snaffle. The first thing I do is "set the bit". That's putting tension first on one rein and then the other, followed by "bumping" with equal pressure simultaneously on both reins.

Setting the bit has a psychological effect on the horse. The concept is the same as if the horse has his nose against a brick wall. But in this case the brick wall is in his mouth. He can't go forward through it so all he can try to do is turn sideways or back up to get away from the pressure (you saw him try the sideways evasion in the video). He's searching for the right thing to do and I make sure not to "reward" the sideways evasion but immediately pitch him slack in the reins (reward) when he leans or steps backward. When the reward is consistent with the correct response 100% of the time the horse will start choosing that response to that cue before resorting to other tactics. Here is where the "bumping" action becomes important. If you just set the bit with steady or hard pressure and don't telegraph where the release from pressure is by bumping, the horse will explore one more direction of evasion. UP! And with enough energy it can become UP and OVER! That's bad for everybody.

Things do change a little bit in the saddle. Now you're adding the teaching of leg aids. For starters you teach asking for forward movement and impulsion by squeezing his barrel, getting him to squirt forward from between your legs. More pressure is a request for more impulsion or even the urgency for a canter departure. But how do you stop the horse? Three specific cues in rapid succession; 1: Stop riding. Sit back on your rear pockets. 2: The verbal "whoa" command. 3: Then set the bit followed by pull-relax, stronger pull-relax, really strong pull-relax until the horse stops. You may need more than three pulls to get a stop when first starting out. But each successive pull-relax should be stronger until you get a complete stop. Many riders make the mistake of just one big constant pull to rein a horse to a stop. That's a good way to encourage a horse to get annoyed with the bit, seize it and take your hands completely away from you. He needs to follow the path of pressure-release to know he'll get to the reward of full release of pressure when he complies.

When you have the horse stopping on a reliable basis you can start backing him up the same way you taught while ground driving on long lines. Set the bit and bump-bump-bump. Since you've now also taught the leg aids for impulsion, squeezing your legs will get you just that... but in the other direction. You have the "brick wall" in his mouth but are asking him to move with your legs. Since he cannot go forward through the bit he backs up, faster and faster with more leg pressure. BUT.... this is where your hands and bump-bump-bump become most important. The horse expects the release/relax reward for compliance, even if they're just little reductions in pressure. If you use steady unrelenting pressure to back him up too long or too far he'll most likely just stall out and stop backing. Or the worst case scenario, take his own direction to avoid or escape the pressure. UP and OVER! If at any time you feel the horse getting light in the front end while backing up IMMEDIATELY pitch him slack reins. Riders get hurt or killed when they start to sense a rear coming and hang onto the reins like handlebars on a bicycle to stay in the saddle. That just makes things worse. If you feel like you're going to lose your seat to a rearing event grab the saddle horn... or do an emergency dismount. But go to a slack rein IMMEDIATELY. Do not try to hang on with a death grip on the reins.

As for the colt rearing in the trailer... that's a bad, bad situation. Without seeing the event or how the inside of the trailer is configured I'd suggest spending lots of time with the colt just standing quietly at his tie station. Also unload him first. It sounds like he gets panicky when his trailer buddy leaves first. And consider putting some boards across his side of the manger to make it high enough he can't get his feet up there but not high enough he has no room for his head. I personally know (knew) three excellent horsemen who were killed by their horses. One was trampled in a stall and the other two died from being crushed by their panicking horses inside trailers.

Be careful and do not work alone in that trailer. ~FH

Edited by FloridaHorseman

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* waves "HI" back to JG*

I realize I went off the reservation explaining the stop. It was not part of your question about adding leg aids from the saddle. I didn't mean to infer you don't already know how to do that. But others who may read this post might not. And I need to add some more to it.

(from previous post) " ...how do you stop the horse? Three specific cues in rapid succession; 1: Stop riding. Sit back on your rear pockets. 2: The verbal "whoa" command. 3: Then set the bit followed by pull-relax, stronger pull-relax, really strong pull-relax until the horse stops. You may need more than three pulls to get a stop when first starting out. But each successive pull-relax should be stronger until you get a complete stop. Many riders make the mistake of just one big constant pull to rein a horse to a stop. That's a good way to encourage a horse to get annoyed with the bit, seize it and take your hands completely away from you. He needs to follow the path of pressure-release to know he'll get to the reward of full release of pressure when he complies... ~FH

I mentioned the cues can come in rapid succession. But the horse really needs to know and respond to the individual cues before you can expect good results. Once each cue has been solidly installed on the horse you can use them as closely together as you can and the horse will recognize them. But it takes lots and lots of repetition (practice) for the horse (and rider) to develop the athleticism of muscle memory so the responses become automatic.

Using the stop as an example; when first starting training the stop cues of stop riding, verbal "whoa!" and setting the bit might take two or three seconds to accomplish because you have to think about getting them in the correct order. The more you practice the smoother and closer together they will come. That's when you and your horse become lighter and lighter. It's important the cues come in succession and not all at the same time. Reading individual sentences in this post is easy and understandable. But what would happen if each sentence was superimposed on top of each other? You might be able to pick out some words but for the most part it would be an unintelligible jumble. That's what it feels like to the horse if multiple cues, even the ones he knows, all come at the same time. But if you link them together in succession, even very rapid succession, the horse can understand and respond as fast as you can deliver them once he knows what they are. That is how champion reiners and cutters can make their work look so effortless. The cues are so well installed and so quickly and subtlety delivered they are almost imperceptible to the average eye.

A good and proper stop is one of the few maneuvers that actually involves multiple cues to complete a single event. And with practice the horse can learn to anticipate and accomplish an impressive stop with one single cue; sitting back on your pockets. He will learn that act always means a verbal "whoa!" and setting the bit cue are about to follow, just like he'll eventually learn to listen and obey the "whoa!" command without setting the bit after a while. But each cue must always mean the same thing ALL OF THE TIME.

And there's one more element to a good clean stop, specifically from a lope or canter. Time your request to the horses' gait. Good experienced horsemen always instinctively know where their horse's feet are. It's a daunting challenge for many and takes lots of quality time in the saddle to learn. But it's fairly easy for the purpose of timing a stop command. When you feel the cantle rising up to hit you in the butt it means both hind feet are in the air and coming forward. THAT'S the time to sit back on your pockets, "whoa!" and set the bit. It gives the horse enough time to respond by planting those hind feet as they finish coming forward and hit the ground. He gets the majority of his weight and impulsion shifted to the hind quarters so he doesn't take all that energy on his front legs and send you forward into the pommel. Stopping on the fore instead of the hind quarters is very uncomfortable and unstable for both you and the horse. His front legs are delicate and not meant to take that kind of repeated abuse. Stopping from the walk/trot is not that critical. But lope/canter.... properly time your stop cues.

One more sidebar about the saddle coming up to slap you in the butt; that's also the perfect time to ask for a flying lead change. The horse will change in the back when he hits the ground and then change in the front with the next stride. If you're having problems with cross-firing on lead changes, check your request timing.

OK. Back on the reservation now. :grin: ~FH

Edited to add- I worked and video'd a different horse on long lines today. This one was already desensitized to ropes and lines. You can see the different reaction. http://youtu.be/0b8DhR6Yx3g

Edited by FloridaHorseman

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I work a horse on a lunge line or on long lines with a surcingle before saddling. Then saddling time becomes a place for the horse to catch it's breath and relax. I'll let it relax for a time with the saddle partially cinched up, then work it on lunge or long lines again. I'll stop, tighten up the cinch a bit more, work it, tighten up again. By the third time the saddle should be perfectly cinched and the horse will be warmed up and relaxed.

The one nice thing about a surcingle is that it teaches the horse that a slowly tighten band around it's belly won't kill it. A saddle places weight and a band on it's belly at the same time. Some sensitive horses can get sensory overload from a saddle being on them for the first time and will panic.

As for the manger leaping, you said that you were putting your other horse away. So your colt was left alone in a dark cave where he was trapped while his two leaders left him tied up, helpless and vulnerable to attack from HORSE EATING MONSTERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I would suggest that you do some work with the colt on lines to take off the edge and get him ready to rest inside the trailer. Then take turns loading & unloading both horses and tying them to the outside of the trailer to spend even more time being tied. That way your colt can look out of the trailer and see you or the other horse when he's inside. Place some hay in the manger so they can relax and eat when their inside too.

At one time, I had my straight load two horse trailer backed into one of my pasture gates and only fed the two horses in the manger. The minute they saw me heading for the trailer, they raced up the ramp to get in. Instead of a scary dark box, the trailer became a good place to hang out.

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