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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov. 29, 2011
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    63

    Default Colt Starting

    I'm posting this on this forum since the subject horse is a race horse prospect:

    Okay, I've started several colts with the help of a really good versatile trainer for most of them. But never a TB racing prospect. My neighbor needs a 2 y/o started so I took him on. I do not have access to the trainer I have worked with as he is preparing for a Mustang Challenge.

    From day one I knew this TB was going to be different, even though I have an OTTB from the same stable next door. We actually share training facilities. He is athletic, and can be very explosive. I learned early on that I had to be much more subtle with my cues. To shorten this post I will get to the point without every detail of what I have done with him so far. It should be easy to fill in the details.

    After several days of ground work I prepared him to tack up and he accepted the saddle, a western saddle no less. Moved off well with it and never offered to buck or rear, and we did this for a few sessions. He was good with me laying over his back both saddled and not, as well as sitting on him both saddled and not., and we continued this as above. He accepted the reins and even "flexes" to both sides, steps hind feet over disengaging HQ's w/o a rider on his back. He will flex while standing still and rider mounted. However, when asked to move at all with a rider he explodes forward until the rider gets off of him. I don't want to rush him or him to hurt himself. He has mastered ground work and is compliant in everything I can come up with to ask him to do except to move under control with a rider. Anyone have advice on where to go from here?



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov. 1, 2010
    Location
    VA
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    1,800

    Default

    Ground drive him until you can control his movement.

    Stop flexing him.

    That is what I would do--oh and a whole lot more that is way too much to put on a forum.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar. 8, 2004
    Location
    Baltimore, MD
    Posts
    21,277

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by LookmaNohands View Post
    Ground drive him until you can control his movement.

    Stop flexing him.

    That is what I would do--oh and a whole lot more that is way too much to put on a forum.
    I agree with the ground driving. I never had one buck a single time with a rider on when I was breaking babies. We didn't go to the next step until the current step was old hat. Did you have someone lead him at the walk while a rider bellied him?


    2 members found this post helpful.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct. 5, 1999
    Location
    A place called vertigo
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    Default

    I'd make sure he is comfortable WTC while tacked up both directions before putting a rider on. If you don't have a round pen, you'll have to lunge him. I'd also desensitize him to a plastic bag and maybe do some other things like walk over a tarp. I'd have him tacked and tied for at least 30 minutes prior to a training session, and another 30 minutes afterwards, if it's not too hot.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov. 29, 2011
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    63

    Default

    When I flex him I release immediately when he gets soft. That is the only reason I do that. I want to have some rein control when we do ride him. At this point as soon as I touch the rein he gives and I release.

    I have him WTC both directions while tacked up. Sent him over bridges, tarps, etc...

    I have not tried to ground drive him.

    I have walked him with rider bellied on him. We have done up to 5 laps both directions in a 150x100 arena this way. We have done that for several days and he is fine with it, head down and relaxed.

    Last night we progressed to circling him while leading with the rider sitting on him. He seemed fine. Handed the lead line to the rider and kept walking. As soon as he realized I did not have the lead line he ran to the round pen panel and the rider dismounted. We got greedy and ask for too much IMO.

    I just found out, from the rider who was on him last night, that he recently ran through a rail fence and then a wire fence during a thunder storm. Would have been nice to know that little tidbit before I started him LOl. To me that means the horse does not have much self preservation in mind when he is scared if he is running through fences. Could be a whole different animal no pun intended.

    Thanks to all who have offered advice, and keep it coming.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug. 25, 2005
    Location
    Northeast
    Posts
    12,223

    Default

    I would look into longeing with distinct voice commands for several weeks. He needs to understand that walk on means to move his feet, and tht TROT! means just that. And that all important WHOA! command that you can incomporate with a light feel on the reins, if you get him past halt when you are finally in the saddle.. Flexing not necessary or productive of anything.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov. 1, 2010
    Location
    VA
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    1,800

    Default

    Silly to get on a horse when you don't have control! I put the controls on there first. Stop, go, turn. Ground driving. Out in the open not in a pen or even a fenced in area. You have someone lead them first until you are sure. Then I have the person walk with them but not be attached. I do this in a side pull.

    I back them out in the open. In the side pull. Nothing fenced in. Know why I do that? So I am careful not to leave any steps out at all. Same procedure--someone leads them. Stop, go turn, same aids and voice commands as ground driving. I go baby step, after baby step. No worries then, they never get worried at all. Once I am sure they are responsive, I put someone else on a quiet older horse and the youngster follows along. Oh, and they are not tired from going around a round pen. I don't have one. I don't need one. Never have.

    Works great.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov. 29, 2011
    Posts
    63

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by LookmaNohands View Post
    Silly to get on a horse when you don't have control! I put the controls on there first. Stop, go, turn. Ground driving. Out in the open not in a pen or even a fenced in area. You have someone lead them first until you are sure. Then I have the person walk with them but not be attached. I do this in a side pull.

    I back them out in the open. In the side pull. Nothing fenced in. Know why I do that? So I am careful not to leave any steps out at all. Same procedure--someone leads them. Stop, go turn, same aids and voice commands as ground driving. I go baby step, after baby step. No worries then, they never get worried at all. Once I am sure they are responsive, I put someone else on a quiet older horse and the youngster follows along. Oh, and they are not tired from going around a round pen. I don't have one. I don't need one. Never have.

    Works great.
    Ahhh yes, the ever present "I don't make mistakes..." trainer. I realize I open myself up to this when asking questions LOL.

    I was sure I mentioned that I had control of him while on the ground? What is "silly" to me is thinking you will for certain have control when you mount for the first time on a colt simply because you have control on the ground. Sometimes they fool you, even when you take baby steps. I am glad you have never had that happen, and hope you never do because with your confidence that you can handle them in an open field a train wreck will certainly ensue.

    Now back to the matter at hand:

    I have started ground driving him. I sure am glad I taught him to give to the pressure, (gaining control ) with the lead line. With that experience he was a snap to learn the ground driving. We have gone straight, in circles, figure 8's, stopping and backing.

    We have mounted a rider while I walk beside him. The rider is now taking the controls of steering and stopping. So things are going well.

    LookmaNohands,

    One last response to your post. A round pen and/or enclosed arena can be a great tool if used correctly. Many of the greatest trainers and colt starters in the world use them. We have three of them. We also have a 1/2 mile track. We have open fields, wooded areas with trails, and our property boarders both national and state forest land that offers hundreds of miles of trails. So we do get them out of the enclosed areas and into the real world ASAP. However, this colt is not ready for that yet. If you get a chance sometime you might want to go see a quality trainer using a round pen. You may decide it would be a good tool to add to your repertoire.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct. 8, 2002
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    10,453

    Default

    Honestly it sounds to me like you've done a lot of prep work- have you tried ponying with a rider?

    I think ground driving is a great idea, but from what I've gleaned reading your posts, he's at the point where he needs to learn it's ok to move forward while carrying weight. He also sounds a bit more prone to being reactionary than some other horses, so a lead horse may help give him an example and help him stop and think.
    "smile a lot can let us ride happy,it is good thing"

    My CANTER blog.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct. 5, 1999
    Location
    A place called vertigo
    Posts
    13,813

    Default

    OP, don't take things too personally. There is always someone looking to air his or her superiority instead of just being helpful. It's the way of the anonymous forums.

    I personally don't like to ground drive, but I'm pretty uncoordinated and can't walk and use my hands properly at the same time. I like round pens, but again, I'm usually alone when training and find it a safe and humane way to get things done.

    But glad to hear it's working for you and you are making progress with your colt.



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