Friday, January 30, 2009


I am sorry that I have not been able to write for a few days. We (in Kentucky) are having major weather related problems. We (Van Bert Farms) have been without electric now for 3 full days. During that time we have had a bad ice storm, a flood, and snow. We have been spending all of our time trying to keep everyone (including the animals) warm and dry. I am including some pictures of the first flood in 2009. This one really sneaked up on us, because the ice was making a natural dam in the river. We had a lot of rain, but not the amount that would have caused this much damage. It is all much better now, we still do not have electric, but we are surviving. :o)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

According To H.T. part 3

You are now in the saddle. Yesterday we got in the saddle today after placing both feet in the stirrups...sit still for a few seconds and then dismount. We want the horse to be comfortable with this before we ask him to move on. Now, we don't want to make any sudden moves, but at this time we want to ask the horse to start flexing his head to one side. We have been working with the horse doing this on the ground, so if we have done our homework right, this is what he will do from the saddle. Try this by putting your arm in a straight position to the left or right. If you have his head turned to the right ask him to step over by putting pressure on his right side. This will start his feet moving. Cluck at the same time. Remember, you have to get his feet moving. If he takes a few steps you are on the right track. The secret that I have found in getting a horse to do something is not to get him excited. You can also praise him when he does what you ask. Before you put him up for the day, I like to walk him around for about 3 to 5 minutes then dismount and put him up for the day. Tomorrow when you start your horse again, be sure to do the ground work with him first before you get in the saddle.

Monday, January 26, 2009

According To H.T.

After you have gotten your horse familiar with the bit, I would now introduce the saddle. If you have done all the preparation for this you should not have any trouble. When you put the saddle on for the first time, you do not want to tighten the cinch very tight. Just enough so that it stays on then send your horse out on the rail. Let him move around the pen with the saddle for a few minutes, call him back, tighten the cinch a little more and send him back on the rail for another minute or two. Continue doing this until you have the saddle tight enough that you feel comfortable mounting.

Before you start to mount the horse, take your lariat or stick and rub all over the horse, under his belly and down his legs. This is a very soothing thing for your horse and just a way of telling him everything is OK. Move through the exercises you have been working with him on now. Such as stepping over with his front feet and then stepping over with his back. Ask him to back up, then circle you by holding him close with the reins. Do all of this from both sides. With the lead over your left arm and the reins over his neck start slapping the stirrup leathers making a popping noise. Pull on the stirrups and have them gently hitting the sides of the horse. If he is not happy with this you need to send him back on the rail so that he continues to get used to the saddle moving around on his back. If he is OK with all of this, then you can feel comfortable mounting. Turn the stirrup so that the opening is facing you. Place your foot in the stirrup and begin putting pressure in it, just a little at first, more of a bounce. Again, if he is not happy with you doing this or moves around, send him back on the rail. We want the horse to be more comfortable with you and what you are doing than he is running around the pen. When you think he is ready to listen, call him back and try it again. Move to the other side and do the same thing. When he stands perfectly still, start straighting your leg out... putting all your weight in the stirrup. Still do not mount, but stand in the stirrup for a few seconds, come down and reassure the horse that this is all you want. Be sure and do this on both sides until you and your horse are comfortable. You will know when it is OK to swing your leg across and mount. Again, only for a few seconds and then dismount. Be prepared to use your leg muscles on this day, because it is a lot of repetition.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Part 2 by H.T.

When a foal has been handled like Vera wrote about in her previous post, there is seldom a problem when you decide to put them under saddle. They are broke to lead, and they have been desensitized, they yield to pressure, they know verbal commands (Cluck and Whoa). The only thing they have not had is actual weight on their back.

I would suggest, before you put a saddle on a horse, to have a Equine Dentist to look at your horses mouth. We have the wolf teeth extracted, floated and anything that the dentist feels needs to be done, before we put a bit in the horses mouth. I urge you to call a Equine Dentist. There are very few veterinarians that have enough education in the dental field to be as good as a Equine Dentist (the same with people doctors). I know we like to keep our expenses to a minimum when we can with our horses, but this is not the place to do that. An Equine Dentist is the best money you will spend on your horse. After you have had your horses teeth checked, then tie a ring snaffle bit onto a halter and put it in your horses mouth. Leave it in for about 5 minutes and then take it out, increasing the time each day until your horse is comfortable with the process. This will introduce the bit slowly to the horse, and will keep him from fretting with it when you get ready to introduce a saddle and rider.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Experience In Starting A Horse

My daughter Vera in previous post talked to you about a horse that had never been handled. I think she did a great job in those post, but I would like to talk to you about starting a horse that has had some ground work and has been handled from birth like she talked about in some of her first post.

As I said in the beginning what I relay to you is from my experience and what I have learned from others over the years. On a news program this morning the commentator was asking a political figure a question. When the party answered, the commentator said, "let me read what you said 20 years ago," then he ask," why is your answer different now than then?" The political figure answered, " I hope I have learned something in 20 years." Don't ask me how I started a colt 50 years ago, because it was a lot different. I usually mounted a horse a whole lot quicker than I do now, and I also, usually dismounted quicker than I wanted . There is a better way!

Before you begin working with your colt with the objective of riding him, I suggest you have available to you a round pen. The first one I built by the standard John Lyons had at the time and I made it 60 ft. in diameter. I found that I can accomplish the same thing in a 50ft diameter pen and I don't have to walk as much to make contact with my horse in order to keep him moving. It doesn't take a horse long to realize you can't reach them from the center of a 60ft round pen with a lariat or lunge whip. I also used the John Lyons technique of a lariat (and it works), but I have also found I have better control of a "carrot stick" (fiberglass rod with a knotted leather popper tied to it). However, don't throw the lariat away because there are several times you will want to use it later. Of course you will need a halter, lead, and later a saddle, pad, and bridle with a snaffle bit.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Please Welcome

For the next little bit you will be reading some postings from my Dad. I want to let him introduce himself to you today, so that those of you who are not familiar with him will somehow be able to relate to the topics he will cover in the next few post.

My name is H.T. Derickson, I am a very young 73 years old. My wife Wilda and I have been married for 53 years and have raised 5 children. We are fortunate in that they, their children and grandchildren all enjoy and love horses. My wife and I started our training facility in 1965 and all of our children, grandchildren, and now great grandchildren have been involved at sometime or other, some more than others, and some just keep hanging on with me, as they say, "for the love of the horse." :o)

My post on this blog will come from my experience and knowledge that I have learned over many years. I have always said, "if there is a better way to teach a horse or a prettier place to ride it, I want to learn it or go there." I was once told by an old horseman that if you are green, that means you are still growing, I like to think (even at 73) that I am still a little green.

I was sent an email yesterday. It seems an old trail rider was out in the forest riding his horse along a trail when he decided to get off his horse and rest a spell. He looked down, and there on a stump, set a frog. The frog yelled at him, as he bent closer to hear what he had to say, "kiss me and I will turn into a beautiful woman". The old horseman, just stuck the frog in his saddle bags. The frog yelled in a muffled voice, "did you hear me?" "Kiss me and I will turn into a beautiful woman," she repeated. The old horseman smiled and said, "that's alright, I don't need a beautiful woman, but now a talking frog is something else." they tell me "with age comes wisdom", and I hope I can share some of that with you over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pasture Breeding

Friday, I told you I was going to start giving you some information on breeding. Since then I have received a email from Jerusha who is a student doing a report on pasture breeding. She is requesting information from us on this subject, so I thought this would kill two birds with one stone and write it on the blog. I am sorry I did not get this to you yesterday, but the "bug" has hit us here at the farm. It seems to be a 24 hour thing, but it kept me from posting yesterday. I hope all of you are staying well this winter, because it is not fun to be sick.

Pasture breeding stallions is something we have always done and with very good success. Like I said in previous post "no matter how much we spoil our horses and take them out of the environment they know, they still know how to be a horse". This works several ways for us. Since we have so many mares it is a easy way to get our mares bred/pregnant. The stallion does all the work for us. We don't have to worry about getting the mare up 3 times a week and teasing her, or having the vet come to ultrasound to see where she is in her cycle. Jerusha ask me how many mares we put in with the stallion. Now, I am not saying you can turn your mares and a stallion out and not have to check on them because you do. If you notice there are several mares cycling at the same time, then your stallion may not be able to get them all pregnant. With each breeding in a single day the sperm will become less and less. If you see the stallion breeding one or two mares on Monday, you may want to take them out of the pasture until Wednesday, so that your stallion will have the opportunity to breed the other mares, and then rotate them out. The sperm will live inside the mare for about 24 hours, so it is a waste of time to breed everyday or more than once a day. We try to stay on a schedule of Monday, Wednesday, Friday with our live cover and A.I. Sometimes a stallion just falls head over heels for one mare and will breed her several times a day and not get to the other mares. Again, you will want to move this mare out after she has been bred. So to answer the question from Jerusha, the number of mares we put in with a stallion is not as important to us as the size of the pasture. Here in Kentucky the rule is 2 horses per acre.

Her next question is, do they stay in when wet and dry? After the mare foals and has about a week with her baby, we will put the mare in with the stallion that we are wanting to breed her to. We have never had a stallion be mean to a foal. They are always very protective and you will sometimes see them babysetting for the mare. The mare and foal will stay in with the stallion until we know she is in foal or if there are not many mares in with the stallion we will leave her there until she is ready to foal again. Most of the time we put the stallions in the barn away from the mares in late July or early August. It is just as hard for us to have a foal in the extreme heat as it is to have a foal in the winter.

Jerusha wants to know what the conception rate is and is it easier to get a problem mare in foal by pasture breeding? We have found that the mares have a much higher rate of conception if we let them do pasture breeding. Sometimes a nervous mare or a maiden mare will have all the signs right, but no matter how many times we breed her, she just will not conceive. We have found if we turn her out with a stallion and let nature take its course, this will usually work.

When do we put the stallion in with the mares? Since it takes 11 months plus 5 days for gestation of a horse, we plan our foaling time around the weather. Ideally, we do not want to have a foal before the end of March, so we will put the stallion in with the mares in April. For showing purposes a horse is considered another year older Jan. 1st so, if we have a late baby, he will always be the youngest in the class and that sometimes does not work when it comes time to start a horse. Some people will shoot for a early January baby if they think it will be something they want to show. We allow all of our mares to foal in the field, so this just does not work for us, but if you want to put the mare up and watch her for a few weeks until she foals, and be able to provide a safe, clean, warm environment, then that is up to you. We have found our mares and foals do much better foaling in the field in the spring.

Do you ever add mares later on and if so, how does the stallion react? Yes, we do add more mares and take mares out as I have said above, depending on when they foal and how many mares we are wanting to breed to that particular stallion. The stallion generally does not have a problem with this, but sometimes, especially if they are not from our farm, the stallion will not accept the mare into the band for a couple of days. This is natures way of keeping out disease. When this happens, we will put the mare in a catch pen or adjacent paddock for a couple of days, so that the stallion can get used to her, and after a few days, he usually takes her right in. I will caution you about putting mares from other facilities that you are not familiar with in with your stallion, unless they have been checked by a vet for STD's. If they have a foal on their side, this is not as much a concern, but it is always a good rule of thumb, to have the owner have the mares checked for STD's and where she is in her cycle. You will not want to run the chance of infecting your stallion and therefore infecting the whole herd. I have had clients think they can bring their mare and leave it for a couple of weeks and think they should be pregnant when they come back to get them. If you don't know where they are in their cycle, and it is not the right time... a couple of weeks will not be long enough. Mares cycle much like a human woman, and they conceive much the same way.

I will be posting for my Dad in the next few weeks, so I am sure he will be covering some of these things for you, but since Jerusha is needing the information for school right away, I wanted to cover this as quickly as I could. Jerusha, if you have any more questions regarding our breeding program, please feel free to contact us.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Mountain Horses and Winter

I hope all of you are remembering not just your horses, but all your outside animals this winter. It is so easy to stay indoors, stick our heads back under the covers and think all is well with our animals. I have already told you what I think about winter, but it is here and we must deal with it, and it does not seem to be going anywhere very fast. Remember to keep plenty of hay and water in front of your horses. If you don't have automatic heated waters, ice will need to be broken several times each day. Keep up the good work, everyone enjoys their horses and they totally depend on us for their every need.

In the next few days (until Dad gets a little rest) I want to bring in some things to think about before we start breeding your mares. Check back again tomorrow, for some helpful hints.

Coming to you from Sunny Kentucky (Susie) at a balmy 7 degrees! :o)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Starting a Young Horse Part 14

I feel like I am in a deep freeze, and much of the country is feeling the same way. Winter is not my favorite season and for the last 3 years I have managed to spend them in sunny Baja, Mexico. Due to several reasons, I am not going to be able to do that this year, and this winter is reinforcing my attitude toward cold weather. I just don't do well when the thermometer reads 1 degree!:o) Oh well enough about that, I have lived here all my life, so you would think I should have adjusted a little better.

Back to the subject.....In just a few days the owner came back to see his horse. He walked into our stable very friendly, and asked, "well I see my horse is no longer in the round pen, how is he doing?" I told him he was doing great, would he like to see him? Of course he did, so I went to the stall to get him. The horse walked slowly out of his stall by my side and into the crosstie, (ever the gentleman). I saddled him and led him back to the center of the barn. I mounted him as he stood perfectly still. I asked him to walk off and then to come up into gait. Without a glitch his horse made a perfect demonstration for him. I then rode him outside and around the barn, back inside and then out again. The owner seemed unexpectedly surprised. (I really think he had both barrels loaded thinking I would still have the horse in the round pen.) He was afraid I would be the only one able ride the horse, but I had covered that too, by having my Dad work with me. I told him he would be fine and asked him if he wanted to ride, but he declined. I think he was worried that there would be the same unhappy ending as he had before. He told me he would be after his horse in a couple of days, and I just wilted. I had developed such a bond with this horse. He had taught me so much. I asked him what he was going to do with him, that I really felt with a few more months of work he would be great in the show ring. That is not what he wanted to do with the horse, his objective was to trail ride, and I assured him he would be great for that also.

After a couple of days the owner came for the horse. I thought so much of this horse that I offered to buy him, but the owner wouldn't put a price on him. I had to be happy with that because I knew that he would be well taken care of, as far as being fed and clean, but I knew I was going to miss him greatly and I did. I asked about the horse often, and was told several times that no one ever rode him. The owner took him home, turned him back in the pasture where he had started from a couple of months before. It always felt like such a waste to me, but I will always remember some very important lessons from this experience.

On a different note....My Dad is recuperating from an operation, and with the weather being what it is, I think this is a great time to corral him long enough to put a pen to some of the experiences that he has had with horses. Believe me when I tell you he has had several that are worth reading about. A few people over the years have asked him to write a book. He is just much too active to set that long, so now may be the perfect time. I am giving him a couple of days to rest and then.... be sure to come back and read the blog, because you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

starting a young horse part 13

I was so excited to think we had gotten this far in such a short time. Reading this blog you may have thought it was going to take forever at the rate I was going, but look at where we are. This horse listens to what I am asking him to do, he responds to pressure, he leads quietly without walking ahead or behind me, he saddles while standing freely, he stands quietly while mounting and walks off when asked.

I led him to the round pen from the stall, (which he did like a pro) and went through the exercises. After a brief review of stopping, turning, following, and pressure points. I led him back to the barn and to the cross tie area. I gave him a few minutes to look around and see the "goings on" of the cross tie area, and then I started tacking him up. This horse stood there quietly like he had been through this dozens of times.

When I first started riding this horse, it was only with a halter and reins attached. I put a small driving bit in his mouth only after he understood turning left, right, and stopping (don't forget that). :o) Normally, I would not put a bit in his mouth until a equine dentist looked at him, but I knew the owner was not going to spend the money for this and I also knew my time with this horse was limited.

I led him to the center of the barn aisle and mounted him while he quietly stood there. I asked him to walk on and he slowly walked on. I then asked him to increase his speed and he accepted that also. At the end of the barn aisle, I asked him stop, turn and resume speed again. I could not believe where we were and where we started. I knew this time I would be ready for the owner when he came back to see his horse.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

starting a young horse part 12

Whew! I know... I am sorry for not posting yesterday. I have come to realize the weekends are not going to be posting days. Yesterday, I spent the whole day trying to download software that will allow me to edit and post movies. That will be fun! One of these days...coming soon...

O.K. I wanted to get this stallion out of the round pen and into a stall. It was time he learned all about the "barn life". I worked with him, with a lead, walking at his side (as we talked about in previous post). This seemed easy enough, but what if I take him out of the pen and on the way to the barn, he spooks and then I will have a stallion running loose on a farm with 100 brood mares. I have always felt good about the fact that I recognize my limitations. My request was two fold, I wanted someone else to be able to work with this horse and I wanted someone more experienced to take the chance of him getting loose :o) so I asked my Dad to work with him a little and lead him to the barn. I walked along beside him letting him know he was a good boy, and as I had hoped he never pulled, jumped, or lunged the first time. He went straight to the stall and walked with me into it like he had been in and out of it many times. I didn't want to just stop there, we went in and out about 4 times stopping and petting each time. This was a good day and I was happy. Tomorrow I would take him out and introduce him to the cross ties and a shower in the wash bay.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Starting a Young Horse Part 11

I was so glad that the unhappy experience had not set us back too far in what my goals for this horse had been. I still had not put a bit in the horses mouth, so I hooked a set of reins to the halter and after going through the exercises for the day, I again mounted the horse, but this time I ask him to step off by shifting my weight just a little forward. One step was all I was asking, but if we got more that would be alright too. He stepped off slowly, a little unsure of exactly what I was asking, but I was reassuring him that everything was going well and he did not mind me being on his back. Once he reached the rail of the pen, his step came at a little faster pace, but then he quickly decided this was a comfortable place to be. I changed directions with him, went around the pen this way for a couple of laps and asked him to stop. Again, verbally saying whoa and shifting my weight slightly toward the back. Then I got off, walked to the center of the ring, ask him to come to me, and took the saddle off. Again, we stopped on a good note.

This horse had followed me around the round pen, and come to the center when asked, but I had never really led the horse. There was one more thing I wanted to accomplish this day and that was to get him out of the round pen and into a stall.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Starting a Young Horse Part 10

I put myself together, and then set about the task of putting the horse back together. I could not let this day end on a bad note. Back to the round pen I went, letting the horse start over with all the preliminary things he had learned. Going one direction and then turning when asked and coming to me, with lots of petting and reassurance. Once he got into doing the things that were easy and familiar to him, then the more settled and trusting he became. Surprisingly things went very good and I quit on a good note.

The next day we ran through the same exercises, but I also added the saddle. I flopped the stirrups around and once again, if he moved out on his own, then I would send him back to rail having him change directions until he was ready to come to me and allow this. Once I felt comfortable with his efforts in accepting the saddle and the movement of the stirrups, then I put my foot into the stirrup. He did not seem to mind. I went to the other side and did the same thing. Then I added a little weight, popping up and down like I was going to mount, but not moving all the way up. Always making sure to do the same thing on the other side. Finally I was able to come all the way up in the saddle and swing my leg over and into the saddle. Now, there have been times (with other horses) that I have done this and thought everything was going to be fine, when all of sudden the horse seems to realize something is out of the ordinary and takes off like they are shot out of a cannon, so be prepared. You do not want to be stiff and nervous about mounting, but in the same sense you do want to be prepared for the unexpected. This horse stayed very calm and I very calmly dismounted. I went to the other side and repeated the process. I did this about 3 times on each side and then called it a day. I wanted to convey to him that this was all I wanted and it was not bad at all.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

starting a young horse part 9

I had just finished working with my horse for the day, when his owner drove up. "How is my horse doing"? I was very happy with our progress, but I could tell right away the owner was not. Nothing meant anything to him other than, I had not gotten on the horse yet. "I'll do it", he said. I tried to explain what we had accomplished and why I was going a little slower with this horse, but that just did not seem to have an impact on him. However, it was his horse and he could do what he wanted. Out in the round pen he went with a very determined look on his face. He took the lariat and right away the horse started moving around the round pen. Only, the horse was not used to anyone hitting him with it, so instead of making him calmer, it was sending him into a flight mode. The owner was trying to catch him by throwing the lasso around his neck! He caught the horse and finally, after a time pulled the horse into him. Of course, all of this was new to the horse and he was totally freaked. The owner tied him to a post in the round pen and started putting the saddle on. I had introduced him to the saddle so that was not so bad, but you could tell he was very worried and scared about what was happening. I was beside myself, watching 3 weeks of hard work on this horse go down the drain in a frightening way. I was afraid the owner was going to just forget the training part of this horse, take him home and nothing would ever be done with him. I watched him mount the horse, have someone turn him loose and off they went. Literally, the horse one way and the owner the other in about 5 seconds. This happened 3 times before the owner gave up, picked up his hat, dusted himself off for the last time, and without saying a word, got in his truck and left. There I stood in stunned silence watching the horse I had worked with for so long revert back to the scarred, wild looking horse that had first came to me. I did not know if I would ever win his trust back again. I was devastated.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Starting a Young Horse Part 8

So, back to the round pen...except this time I wanted the horse to stop and come to me. We continued with what we had learned in the past with changing directions, stopping, turning and now... being more exaggerated in my request, by pulling him into me. He was a pretty quick study and got this rather quickly and I was able to have him come to me and follow me around the pen. Now, to put the halter on my be a little more than I bargained for, but if we had done this all right then it should be a snap...and it was! O.K. we have the halter on with a lead...I took the stick and rubbed on him with it instead of my hand, being sure to rub down the hind legs (which are always a little scary for me to do with my hand). By this time, he really trusted me and I him. We appreciated each other for what I was asking for and what he was giving me.

I know many of you are shaking your head and thinking why doesn't she just get on with it. Like I said this is not the way I would do this in a trainer's challenge, but then I don't like to hit the ground and I didn't want to push the horse further than what he was ready for, and I didn't want to fall back at any time.

At this time, we had worked on this for about 3 weeks. I had the horse standing freely in the middle of the ring allowing me to rub all over him on both sides, he has taken to his halter and I have been putting it on and taking it off every day, he is following me around the pen, he is yielding his front, rear and will back when asked. I am now able to pick up all of his feet for the farrier, we haven't used the clippers on his ears, but he will allow me to rub in and around them. He has accepted the saddle and is used to the stirrups clanking about. My next goal will be to go ahead and get up in the saddle, but I was not ready for the next coming event....

Monday, January 5, 2009

Starting a Young Horse Part 7

While I know this was meant to be a daily log, I am having a hard time getting this out to all of you on the weekends. I really appreciate you checking in with us daily, but please bare with us until we get this established and a routine set for me so that you will be able to enjoy the blog on the weekends.

Now, like I said my horse has been living in the round pen, because I have not been able to have him come to me and put a halter on. I could have taken 3 or 4 people out there to corral him and catch him, but that would defeat the purpose I had planned for this horse.

My goal for the 4th day was to have the horse turn to me and wait for me to walk to his shoulder and today, I wanted to be able to rub his nose, ears and around his eyes. I wanted to be able to put a halter on him in the next couple of days, so I wanted all of this to be a happy experience. I continued with the same daily routine and pushed on from his shoulder toward his head. I was able to let him have a pleasant experience with the gentle rubbing, ever inching closer to his eye and down his nose. The ears are always a little more touchy, but it is very important to be able to rub these gently so that they are not afraid when you put the halter on and then later when you want to trim the ear.

Over the next couple of days we worked in this manner until I was able to rub the horse all over his body. This is really a enjoyable time for you and your horse. You will really establish a relationship with your horse during this time. Now, I wanted to have the horse turn and come into me, if he was going to get the rub down he liked so much, I wanted him to come to me to get it.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Starting a Young Horse Part 6

I continued to work this horse every day for the next couple of days always working a little closer to the horse. Keep in mind I had still not caught the horse, put a halter on him or moved him from the round pen. On the 3rd day my goal was to have the horse turn into me and allow me to walk up to him. I turned the horse as if we were going to change directions, but I didn't ask him to step off. As soon as he turned I dropped the lariat and stood still. He looked at me as if asking what do you want me to do? I walked forward a couple of steps, keeping my head bowed and my eyes on the ground. When I sensed the slightest muscle movement from him for flight, I backed up. I continued this dance of going forward and stepping back. I didn't want to push him into flight, but I wanted to inch my way up to him. If he broke into running and the security of the fence, I sent him back into the routine we had established of running, in one direction and having him change...doing this until I had his eye back on me again. Then I would ask him to stop and we would start over again of moving forward and backing up. Finally, on the 3 day, I was able to touch this horse on the shoulder, and that is where I stopped for the day. This was all very slow, not what you will see in the trainer's challenges but, this was my first time for working with a horse totally unaccustomed to any influence besides what he had known in his pasture. My goal for tomorrow would be to touch and work around his head, ears and nose, and to be able to rub the entire body with my hand.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Starting a Young Horse Part 5

It took a little while for the horse to calm down from just having me in the pen with him, but once he understood that I was not asking for anything, he began to calm down and really look at me. I let him do this for a little while and then I asked him to move forward by tossing my lariat (as I mentioned in the other post.) Looking at his shoulder and pushing him forward, not enough for him to panic by running into the fence, but just enough to get his heart rate up. Once I saw him looking at me from the corner of his eye, I gave him the signal to switch directions (as talked about in the other post). We worked for about an hour on just switching directions only when I asked him to. Once he achieved this I wanted him to understand... that was all I was asking and we had achieved this. I stopped pushing him and just stood in the ring for a minute or two and then I walked out of the ring, letting him know that he had done what was asked and had done it well. You want to always quit on a good note. Try not to push for a little more once you have achieved your goal. Sometimes it is hard to stop, but after an hour of work you will loose it all, if you keep pushing for more. I was determined to take my time, so that I would not have to back up and start over.
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