Sunday, August 29, 2010


Yearling stud colt

I got the halter on the colt today!

I knew we had made good progress last time, and I was hoping I would get the halter on him today at last, but there were several times when I really wondered. For example, when I pulled out the lead rope for the first time today and he bolted, even though we'd worked with it twice before.

I was able to get back to where we had been pretty quickly. Rodeo leads just fine with a rope around his neck now. Today I got his nose into the halter for the first time, and although he didn't like the feeling of being restrained and pulled it right back out again, he got lots of praise (and a treat) for that.

For a while we didn't progress much beyond that point, as he was still trying to dodge the halter half the time. After a dozen or so attempts, I was able to hold the halter on his nose a little longer. Then I started bringing the halter up the sides of his face but not yet trying to buckle it. He was having some difficulty with that.

That's when I had my stroke of genius. Instead of trying to get him used to the halter strap over his poll when he was also worrying about the nose part, I stopped putting his nose into it for a few minutes, and just made the motions like I was going to buckled it over his poll. He got over it quickly then, so I started putting his nose into it again. Within a few more tries, I was able to get the halter all the way on — and he didn't care at all when I flipped the strap over his poll!

I was so pleased that I decided to quit on that note without making him do it again. I left the halter on a moment, unclipped the lead rope, and gave him a whole handful of treats. Then I clipped the lead rope back on and took the halter off. I opened the round pen gate (it opens directly into the pasture) and attempted to dismiss him, but he didn't want to leave! He followed me around while I gathered my stuff, and then hung out in the round pen for a while after I left, waiting to see if I'd come back.

I think this colt is going to turn out to be a really nice horse.



At August 29, 2010 at 1:59 AM, Blogger JennyB said...

Oh Katharine, that is WONDERFUL!! It's great that you're making such nice, steady progress and got the halter on him but then he wanted to stay with you??? That just blows me away! That's a real mark of a gifted teacher/trainer and a bright, willing student! I'm so happy I got all teared up! Dangit I'm such a huge crybaby lol

~~ JennyB, Horsefeathers

At August 29, 2010 at 6:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's good work - particularly in thinking how to break the exercise down into smaller parts before putting it back together again.

At August 29, 2010 at 10:10 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Way to go! Your making a horse that would be probably going for meat into a respectable citizen of equine society.

At August 29, 2010 at 2:32 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Jenny, or just a sign that I've been giving him too many treats! ;o) Just kidding -- I've definitely been giving lots of treats (those tiny ones that are good for training), but he is definitely responding to the praise and attention as well. He is definitely very smart, and seems to genuinely like being worked with. By the way, I teared up too the first time he let me kiss his nose! And all this in FOUR SESSIONS!

Kate, thank you! I've been trying to do a lot of breaking it down for him, because I discovered early on that he was much more comfortable learning in increments. Looping the lead rope over his neck and leading him that way was something else I was doing -- I wanted him to start getting used to the idea of having something over his neck. Also I wanted to introduce him to the idea of giving to pressure in the gentlest way possible, since he is so wary of being trapped or restrained.

And Sydney, thank you! I have no doubt that's where he would have gone had my mother-in-law not taken him -- her neighbor was going to take him and his mom to auction, and where else would an extra-big, completely unmanageable yearling end up?

At August 30, 2010 at 6:34 PM, Blogger jane augenstein said...

Sounds like you are doing a good thing for this boy! Slow and easy, that's what works with both my boys. Gilly is doing better at getting into the trailer and last night Pokey, after three tried hopped right in the trailer. then stood there looking around, of course he got lots of hugs and scratches, he seemed proud of himself! LOL
Now that you have conquered that, the rest will come easier!
Treats, I give Gilly some before and after riding or doing something. I got sugar cubes the other day, didn't know they still made me, gave Gilly one and he about jumped in my lap for more! So...I think he can only have these in his feeder, not hand fed. He gets too excited about sweets.....he is just one of those shouldn't be hand fed treats.


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