FIRST STEPS IN TRAINING YOUR COLT
- Trust. Your colt must trust you. Go out and play with him, pet and groom him, get him used to you. Reward him with a treat when he comes up to you.
- Halter. When he is used to you then you can halter him. Put the halter on and off a few times. Let him smell it, see it and learn that it won't hurt him.
- Tie him up. When you have the halter on, tie him up. Tie him short so he can't hang himself up in the lead. Let him pull back and get used to the idea of being tied. Leave him standing tied for half an hour - it won't hurt him. Keep a close eye on him while he is tied.
- Leading. When he understands the idea of being tied you can begin leading him around. Give a gentle tug - never a sharp jerk - and get him moving forward. When he steps forward give him slack as his reward but keep moving forward. If he refuses to step forward then use a rope looped behind his butt and pull gently until he steps forward then immediately let up on the butt rope. You could also lead him to the side until he takes a step.
- Pet and groom your colt. Make sure you touch your colt all over. Play with his ears and muzzle, rub him over his rump and down the legs, stand on both sides of him. Walk towards him from different directions. Your goal here is to get the colt used to people coming at him from every direction and touching him everywhere.
- Pick up the colt's feet. Start working with his feet. Pick up his feet. Be careful he doesn't kick or bite you and don't let him put his foot down until you release it.
- Teach you colt some manners. Now's the time to set the rules. Biting, pushing and kicking are not allowed. A smack and a sharp word will let him know you won't tolerate any of that. They catch on fast.
- When you have him tied start with the blanket. Let your colt see, smell and feel the blanket then put it on his back. Flop it across his neck and over his rump. Get him used to the feel of it.
- When you have him comfortable with the blanket then start throwing it. Toss it at him gently and be prepared for the colt to jump. He will see the blanket coming in his peripheral vision and it will startle him. Be patient and talk your horse. Get him used to the blanket hitting him in the feet, around the head and over his back and rump.
- Wave your hat or jacket around, play with a rope. Get your colt used to activity going on around him.
These steps may seem like small insignificant things but they are what make the horse. Do a good job teaching your colt the basics and you will have a sound horse to ride.
WHAT YOUR COLT HAS LEARNED
- To stand tied.
- To be led.
- To be handled.
- To have something on his back.
- Not to startle when something comes at him.
The last three steps are very important. You don't want to ride a horse that will go wild at the sight of bags flapping in the fence or birds flying out from under him. A startled jump - if that - and a quick recovery is what you're looking for.
Patience is a virtue and every animal learns at a different rate but keep at it. Gain the trust of your colt and he will be eager to please you.
Remember your colt is little and like a child he doesn't always want to go to school. He will argue with the teacher, play tricks and forget everything right before the test. Sometimes you will be able to work long and hard and other days you'll have to break early for recess. Be patient - some of what you are teaching him will stick!