- Horse in Training at Baymount
This pretty little two year old horse is in training mode here at Baymount Farm in Statesville, North Carolina. She came to us a few weeks ago as a very green horse. She knew how to lead, stand and allow grooming and that was just about it. BUT the owners had been so kind and consistent with her that she is a very trusting horse. Nothing seems to spook this horse as she is learning her new trade in life.
I combine ‘natural horsemanship’ along with classical training. I like to take the best of both worlds and do what makes sense to me using a lesson plan for teaching the horse. Therefore, I don’t miss any steps, make sure I think through what they need to learn in order while building on concepts and skills. I don’t use harsh equipment, disciplines or force training. I tend to think of these animals as children that I need to teach a sign language. If I have to punish them or hurt them to get a reponse then I have lost the motivation for learning and just created a resentment that may show up as a problem somewhere down the road.
The equipment she has on is not pretty, but it is used mostly for training and is old. It is in good shape, but not something I would worry about losing in case she decided to roll suddenly or rub it up against the rails while learning to carry it. So, pretty doesn’t matter while in the learning process, functionality does however. The saddle is very light weight with western rigging. The bridle is a full cheek snaffle and I have the reins tied up out of the way so she doesn’t step on them. In the beginning when introducing the bridle I remove the reins altogether.
I always start training with horses in the round pen. It is about 60′ in diameter so that they have plenty of room to move around but will not get away to far. I will not put a horse under any amount of stress, but give them time to adjust and figure things out. Starting one step at a time, one day at a time gives most horses the basics they need to make a skill a habit.
I use round penning for a number of things and start out with the horse completely untacked. I like to teach them to be de-sensitized to outside stimulis such as, flying objects, barking and running dogs, noise from four-wheelers, tractors and other equipment. They learn to stand when entagled in rope so they don’t get hurt, walk over tarps and noisey objects as well as stand in place for ground tying. These are only a few things they are exposed to before being saddled up. If they do spook and run off, they won’t get hurt and I am there to quiet them and reassure them. Next I teach them to back, move the forehand, haunches and give to pressure on the poll.
Using the lunging surcingle, we begin the ground work for lunging, bending, balancing and all the moves they need to be able to control and find the balance they will need under saddle. Here is where they learn what the bridle and bit are for as well as what leg pressure will feel like and what it means. It is a lot of time spent in small quantities so as not to bore or irritate the horse, but it is time well-spent a few times a day having fun.
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