Friday, December 17, 2010

Please Don't Let Me Screw Up My Horse

At Santa Joanne's site this morning, I put in a wish that in spring 2011, as I saddle train Beautiful Girl, I don't screw her up.

My past experiences and mistakes have been numerous enough to have imprinted on my mind a certain amount of uneasiness and yes, fear, that I may do just that.

For example, back in the 1980's--the golden years of America--the first colt I saddle-trained ended up running free with the saddle under his belly--bucking and kicking all the way to hell and back. So much could have gone wrong, but DID it? No. You see, that was the first of my nine lives of horse training, and I think I've used up the other 8 in the intervening years.

So, I'm out of chances--out of lives. Yes, I'm older. Yes, I'm wiser, but still, I usually send them to the professionals for their first rides. This time, with Beautiful, I want to do it all.

Am I crazy? Am I going to ruin her?

We will find out in 2011.

PS. Make sure to be checking back with Beautiful Mustang in the next few days because I'm going to be running a five part interview with an absolutely Mustang-crazy photographer, TJ Holmes. You'll love her and the horses she's going to introduce you to.


  1. I feel exactly the same way. I'm not a trainer and don't want to accidentally train a vice into my sweet mare. So far so good. Good luck with Beautiful's training. Sounds like you are very thoughtful about it. Learning from past mistakes and knowing what you don't want to do as well as what you want to accomplish with your horse, gives you an advantage.

  2. Thank you for the encouragement. I really enjoy the groundwork with the horse and, basically, everything leading up to the first ride--which is never much of a "ride"--it's more like bending on top of the horse rather than from the ground. I usually have a trainer do this part for some reason. But this spring, I hope I have it in me to be the one--if for no other reason than to learn to put more trust in my 3 years of training her and my horse's abilities.

  3. I think you can do it - you've built the foundation and take things very slowly one step at a time. I also think you've got the skill to tell if things might not go well at a certain point, and that a step back is in order. I'd go for it if I were you.

  4. Thanks, Kate, I appreciate the vote of support. And, I guess things don't go 100 percent perfect at professional trainer's places either. Every young horse has a trigger or two. By the way, this will be my last time training a colt--next time, if there is a next time since I have so many young ones, I'm going to find a Pie. lol.

  5. Wow, this seems like a challenging experience coming up for both you and Beautiful. But you seem to have a really strong connection with her, she's so tuned in to you, so I'm thinking it'll be a good experience. Now here's the writer in me, but it seems that this could make a really interesting series of articles, memoir articles, a book, something captured with your insights and the experience together. Get your journal ready for those notes?

  6. Joanne--the thing that makes raising the young ones, gentling the Mustangs, worth it is that connectedness and trust they give you. However, this will still be my last colt/filly. From here on out, I think I'd be more apt to help someone who has adopted a Mustang with the gentling process. So, if anyone needs help, let me know. lol.

    And, that's a very good idea to journal the details.

  7. I don't think you'll ruin her. I'm sure that she'll be fine, you'll be fine, and she'll end up the happiest horse!

  8. I had the same saddle fiasco with Tonka. He got over it. Pretty much... :) He still looks at new saddles a little funny but that's about it.

    I can't wait to follow your progress. Maybe you and I will be training our babies at the same time. Or I might have a trainer, or wait a year, or ??? See, I have a solid training plan. *rolls eyes*

  9. Linda, I feel the same way as you, which is why I now have a professional who is training Scout and who is retraining Quad! I don't want to mess them up! I'm thinking about adding Sunni to the training list, but she already does two of the ranch owner's horses, too!

  10. Cheryl Ann, generally, I think it's very wise to hire a good professional to do this, unless it's something you do all the time. There are so many scenarios--they've had more experience and more tools in their toolkit to handle them.

    Andrea--I wish you lived closer so we could help each other out. You've already had him pack the saddle, right? I think ponying them with a saddle is about the best thing you can do leading up to the first rides. The other thing is driving. My daughter's pretty good at it, but I'm not. Cia was never driven from the ground, and she did fine, but I think it's a good idea, if you can. I could have a trainer come in on that part and help me. I guess all I can do is take it step by step. I'll find that book you mentioned.

  11. Linda, I think you'll do great. Plus you have Shiloh to help you. Just take it easy, small steps. Start with something she's familiar with, introduce something new, then end with something she's familiar with again. Short 20 minute sessions are best for young ones. This is what I've found with starting horses.

    As far as saddles. You can borrow my surcingle, if you want to just work with something around her girth area. It's black and fluffy. I used a bareback pad too, just to have the tightness of a girth.

    ok, now all this snow needs to melt so we can play with our babies! It's only December! :-(

  12. Shiloh.....hmmmm, who's that? Oh yeah...Shiloh. She is very good at training the young ones, especially the driving part, but now that she has a real job, she's never available.

    I've gotten my others to the point of saddled and bridled and moving off pressure, etc., but it's that first ride (or third) that I'm worried about. You know, the ride where they decide they don't want to go forward and instead want to push you into the rail?

    Here's an accounting of what she's had: she's had a blanket on and off and on and over her head and everywhere else and she doesn't mind a bit, and a saddle on and off and flung around from both sides--no problem there either. She's had my lead rope tightened up around her cinch area since she was a one year old. She's had the fenders flapped against her side. I've roped her feet with the long line--while she was standing still--not running--but she didn't move at all. I've done all the bending from front and back and lots of work with the rope halter--she's real sensitive to it. In fact, I'd bet she could be rode with a rope halter only, but I'm not sure I'd be the one that wants to do it.

    I do have a curcingle--which will be my first step cinching for sure. I like the idea of a bareback pad--I don't actually have one, though I've thought long and hard about getting one--maybe this is a good time. I have a small saddle I always use for the "first" saddle--it's small and light and fits young ones well--though it's squeaky.

    But still, it's that first darn ride. I'm going to do it this time, come hell or high water, but I may need a support group with me. Free coffee to begin with--afterward, martinis! Want to join me?


Please feel welcome to join our discussion by telling us about your own thoughts and experiences.