To train a horse properly, the cost can be in the amount of time consumed. If you wish to buy a well-trained horse you must expect to pay for this training. The ability to train depends on knowledge and experience, but anyone with the basic knowledge of horsemanship can train a horse. Today people want a gentle-broke animal. However, the new owner must be warned not to buy a horse that has been started by an inexperienced horseman. Usually this is the reason for selling. The animal may have been so misused that it cannot be retrained and the result may be much trouble and possibly danger.
Any professional trainer taking on a new horse will ask what has been done. The time it takes to undo bad training will be added to the usual training price, and also the disposition of the animal will be taken into consideration before acceptance. If the new owner has found a gentle colt, unspoiled, there is no reason to forego the job of training if a careful step-by-step plan is followed and if each lesson will not be hurried.
Too many animals are ruined by being pushed into training when they have not been prepared for it. First, the trainer must be quiet-spoken and patient. Even a sixty-pound child can start a colt under saddle as a yearling. There is no age at which the colt can’t learn. However, there will be more satisfaction with the training if the gentling can be started from the day of foaling. If the foal can become accustomed to being handled daily, the child will have little difficulty when the actual training starts. Many horse owners dislike the idea of buying a weanling because they feel there will be too long a wait before the horse can be ridden. But the feeling of accomplishment can be rewarding as you watch a young colt develop under daily handling, and the time passes quickly if you are interested. It is up to the parent to decide whether the child is capable of training, under supervision, or whether to buy an aged animal for the child to play with.
The young owner must be impressed with the importance of moving quietly and slowly around a young colt. The baby first must get used to the feel of hands. To hold the animal gently, slip the left arm under the colt’s neck while the right arm encircles the rump.
At first the colt might try to free himself, but he will soon learn to stand quietly. The next step is to pat the colt over the whole body, scratch around the ears, and rub his back. The colt must tolerate this handling before taking the next step.
Handling the colt’s feet is in the next lesson. Keeping the right hand on the halter, the free hand should be run down the hind leg, grasping the lower part of the pastern. Lift the leg slowly, moving it forward and back. The colt may lose his balance and jerk his foot. Try again and again, until the colt learns to balance. Pick up each foot every day and move it about until the colt does not object and learns to balance. It is important to praise the colt after each successful move.
Start talking to the colt so he will begin to understand the tones of the voice. The colt will start to enjoy each lesson because of the petting and the praise, and eventually there will be no sign of fear. About this time the colt will try to play. Colt play consists of striking, biting, and kicking. These antics are cute in a tiny foal, but as the animal grows and becomes stronger they can be dangerous. Now the colt must be taught what no means.
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