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Horses injured at colt starting clinics?

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  • Horses injured at colt starting clinics?

    I was at a colt starting clinic a few months back and spoke with a woman who had a young horse being started in the clinic. We got to talking and she told me she had another colt that she took to a colt starting clinic a few months before that was injured so badly it had to be put to sleep. She said her colt got kicked by another young horse in the round pen while the clinician was flagging them around. There were 12 horses in the round pen at the time so she couldn't tell exactly what happened at first, but she said her horse was kicked so hard that his leg was shattered. She said it was not the clinician who was giving the clinic we were at, but would not say who it was.

    This got me to thinking about how many horses are injured at colt starting clinics. I have read clinic reports on the internet by people who were not happy with the clinic they went to, or with the methods the clinician used, but have never heard of a horse being badly injured. I've been thinking of taking my horse to a colt starting clinic next year so I thought I'd see if this was a fluke or something commonplace. And if so, who to avoid.

  • #2
    Well, I'd say it would be smart to avoid someone who tosses 12 youngsters who don't know each other together in a round pen and chases them around. That just sounds like a recipe for disaster

    I'd not offer my horse up to be the proverbial sacrificial lamb unless I had viewed several starting clinics run by the person in question and I found them all agreeable. If that just wasn't possible, I would want to have seen at least ONE clinic with my own eyes, and have talked to several previous participants before signing up.


    • #3
      Sounds like an awful idea.

      Starting babies takes time. It is not something to do in a clinic setting.


      • Original Poster

        Originally posted by Simkie View Post
        Well, I'd say it would be smart to avoid someone who tosses 12 youngsters who don't know each other together in a round pen and chases them around. That just sounds like a recipe for disaster
        Okay, my friend just called me out on my post. She was at the clinic too, and she told me that the woman said her colt was kicked in the arena, not the round pen. Sorry for the confusion. The colt was kicked in the arena.


        • #5
          Originally posted by tdawgh View Post
          Okay, my friend just called me out on my post. She was at the clinic too, and she told me that the woman said her colt was kicked in the arena, not the round pen. Sorry for the confusion. The colt was kicked in the arena.
          Doesn't make it any better. He was still with 11 other unfamiliar youngsters in an already scary setting.

          Colt starting clinics are ridiculous. It should be a slow and steady process tailored to each individual. Not a four-hour rush-job on a baby in a scary place.


          • #6
            I agree. One of my horses was started at one of those clinics (by the previous owner, not me!). What Previous Owner told me about the clinic, if she'd told me the whole story before I bought the horse, would have been a deal killer.

            Young Mare was being worked in a round pen, "trainer" put too much pressure on her and she jumped out of a 5-foot-high round pen! I think I know why she ALWAYS had trust issues with people. I did not know about the pressuring until we had a conversation several months later.

            Maybe for some horses, such a venue is OK, but for the more sensitive types, I think you have to find another way to get the job done.


            • #7
              I would never take my horse to a “colt starting clinic” - start my horses SLOWLY with calmness and confidence. At home, where the horse is comfortable and not stressed.

              These clinics sound SO STRESSFUL to a young horse, and that is not conducive to learning or to a lasting relationship.

              It’s trendy – along with learning how to horse train via DVDs in my opinion. There are no short cuts to proper training, or proper horsemanship.
              APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


              • #8
                I don't know WTH anyone would participate in that kind of clinic personally... I wouldn't in a million years put my youngster in that kind of situation. Starting a horse is a process that takes weeks. The only proper way to start a horse is to do it yourself (if you have the knowledge) or send them out to a well respected young horse trainer for at least a month, probably two or three. If you want to learn do it one on one with said respected professional, not in a group situation with stressed out babies forced into waaaay too short of a timeline.


                • #9
                  I agree. The whole premise makes no sense.


                  • #10
                    And why would the woman mentioned in the OP take another horse to a colt-starting clinic after her experience at a previous one?????
                    The Evil Chem Prof


                    • #11
                      I've heard on one horse that tried to jump out of the round pen and got high centered, and another young one was penned so long it popped splints.

                      I'm not for these clinics, or trainers' challenges: just is not fair to the young horse to put a time line on the program. Horses vary too much.
                      Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                      • Original Poster

                        Originally posted by Peggy View Post
                        And why would the woman mentioned in the OP take another horse to a colt-starting clinic after her experience at a previous one?????
                        That's exactly what I thought. I couldn't believe she would trust anyone with another young horse after such an awful accident.

                        I also heard of a horse not only jumping the panels on the round pen, but taking out half the round pen entirely. From what this person said (on a forum), her horse jumped the panels, got caught and took down half the round pen with the owner getting pinned underneath the whole mess.

                        That story and the one in my original post are the only ones I've heard of though.

                        So from what I gather from everyone's posts, no one would ever take their horse to a colt starting clinic under any condition and no matter who the clinician was?

                        Thanks for your input.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by tdawgh View Post
                          So from what I gather from everyone's posts, no one would ever take their horse to a colt starting clinic under any condition and no matter who the clinician was?
                          Correct. I would absolutely NEVER take a young horse (or any horse) to a "colt starting clinic." I actually can't think of a worse way to start a horse, unless you were inclined to start the horse in the middle of the road during a 4th of July parade right as the fire trucks start up their sirens.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by tdawgh View Post
                            So from what I gather from everyone's posts, no one would ever take their horse to a colt starting clinic under any condition and no matter who the clinician was?

                            Thanks for your input.

                            That is correct – unless that “colt starting clinic” was a month+ long affair in which the horse was handled only in short sessions for limited amount of time each day.

                            These rush rush rush, “git r done” in a few hours “colt starting clinics” are a very bad idea. Lots of stress and pressure is not a good way to start a horse.

                            I started my mare when she was three – over several months, first she learned lunging and voice commands, then she learned to carry a bit, then she learned to long line, then she learned how to move away from pressure at her sides, she learned to tolerate weight over her back, then she learned to stand quietly for mounting – and finally I hoped on, asked for “walk on” (which she had learned during her lunging sessions), and steered her (which she learned in her long ling sessions), and asked for whoa (which she learned lunging and long lining).

                            Everything was taught in tiny, easy to understand steps. The key with a young horse is to keep it simple, keep it positive by asking for just little amounts at a time so that the horse can remain cool and confident, and feeling successful, not stressed and confused.

                            It is not rocket science, but it does take experiencing and timing – and PATIENTS to methodically TEACH the horse what you want – always pressing enough so the horse understands, but not so much to stress it.

                            Now a 6 year old, mare has never thrown me off – never offered any kind of staunch resistance. She has been trained in a slow methodical way, and it shows in her willingness to cooperate, and confidence that I will be fair, and not ask for more that she is ready for.

                            Colt starting clinics are really unfair to young horses.
                            APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


                            • Original Poster

                              I agree with keeping things simple and keeping the horse feeling confident. I also agree that a rush job on a previously unhandled horse is a set up for stress and potential injury. Anyone bringing their horse to a colt starting clinic without ever having done any work with them before hand is setting their horse up for a stressful experience at best. But what about the colt starting clinics taught by people like Buck Brannaman, Martin Black, and Peter Campbell? And what about people who have done the handling and groundwork with their young horses and are just looking for coaching on the finer points of starting their horses under saddle? Or do you feel its always a bad thing to start a young horse under saddle in a clinic environment regardless of their previous handling and education?


                              • #16
                                Personally, I feel that it is always a bad idea.

                                If a person can't afford to have their babies started properly and can't do it themselves, they have no business owning babies.


                                • #17
                                  Exactly, FineAlready. People who want their horses started right either do it themselves or send them out for 90 days. Backing the horse for the first time comes at about half to 2/3rds of the way through that 90 day process for me--depending on the horse and the signals that it is sending. There should be no pressure to "git 'er done" when the horse is sending signals that it is not ready to move to the next step. I have had people who watch me start a horse wonder after 60 days "damn is she ever going to get on that horse" and then they are very surprised when that horse can w/t/c under saddle nice as you please and longe with voice commands at the end of 90 days.

                                  What's the rush?
                                  "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller


                                  • #18
                                    I guess the only thing good about them is that the young horse gets exposure - as long as you trust the clinician and he's not one of those "git 'er done" types.

                                    My horse did benefit from a three day clinic once and there was no drama.
                                    The guy had feel and used his own experienced horse in the arena. There was actually no undue pressure. But then, I think I know the difference, too.
                                    Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                                    • #19
                                      Well... I am currently reading the Memoirs and Selected Letters of Ulysees Grant. One of the most interesting things in the beginning were the many tales of horses, animals, horse sports, and horse starting.

                                      The day that Grant was to start marching with the Army to Mexico, he mounted a 3 year old completely unstarted mustang. His superior officer saw that he had no horses, which apparently embarrassed the superior a bit, so they procured the unbroke 3 year old. (By procure, I mean they pretty much forced a servant to sell the animal to Grant.)

                                      Grant had 3 good horses just a few days earlier, but his 'servant' had accidentally lost all 3 of his horses. Young man was riding one, ponying other two (to water), when the 2 yanked him off the 1, and all 3 were gone.....

                                      Anyhow, Grant says that he and the horse had some trouble deciding which way they where going to go, etc, on the first day. But that thereafter the horse was as good as any other he had ridden.

                                      Grant also tells how the army broke FERAL MULES TO HARNESS IN ONE DAY.
                                      That's a heck of a story.

                                      Also, there was the time he was a young man, and attempted to hitch a saddle horse, untrained to drive, next to a trained driving horse and drive the two of them back home on a several days journey. At one point a dog chased his wagon/carriage, and the untrained horse flipped out. After many stops and starts, Grant decided to blindfold the untrained horse to enable him to drive it to a relatives house. Where he could swap out for a trained horse.

                                      The tale of the bull fights in Mexico were really wild. He says they attached explosives..... to the animal. ( I am thinking something like firecrackers?)

                                      So lots of fun stuff if you want to just read the first 80 or so pages. (Over 1100 pages total.)

                                      But the moral of my tale is that people can, and have, started horses under saddle in one day for a long, long, long time. Then taken those animals into war. So it can be done. And has been done. A lot.

                                      Whether most of us modern folks are tough enough for that kind of nonsense is another issue.
                                      "Friend" me !



                                      • #20
                                        Interesting stories - maybe a little writer's memory involved. I'll go along with the one-day breaking process, for sure, but these days we want our horses to endure less worry, fright, panic, stress....
                                        Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique