The cost of properly training a horse can be measured in terms of time. If you want to buy a well-trained horse, you should be prepared to pay for it. The ability to train a horse is dependent on knowledge and experience, but anyone with a basic understanding of horsemanship can do so. People nowadays prefer a well-trained animal. However, the new owner should be cautioned against purchasing a horse that has been started by an inexperienced horseman. This is usually the reason for selling. The animal may have been mistreated to the point where it cannot be retrained, causing much trouble and possibly danger.
Any professional trainer who takes on a new horse will inquire as to what has been done. The time it takes to undo bad training will be added to the standard training fee, and the animal’s disposition will be considered before acceptance. If the new owner has found an unspoiled gentle colt, there is no reason to avoid the job of training if a careful step-by-step plan is followed and each lesson is not rushed.
Too many animals are ruined because they are pushed into training when they are not ready. First and foremost, the trainer must be patient and soft-spoken. As a yearling, a sixty-pound child can start a colt under saddle. There is no age limit for the colt to learn. However, if the gentling can begin on the day of foaling, the training will be more satisfying. If the foal can become accustomed to being handled on a daily basis, the child will have little difficulty when training begins. Many horse owners are hesitant to purchase a weanling because they believe it will take too long before the horse can be ridden. However, the sense of accomplishment that comes from watching a young colt develop under daily handling is rewarding, and the time passes quickly if you are interested. It is up to the parent to determine whether the child is capable of training under supervision or whether an older animal should be purchased for the child to play with.
The importance of moving quietly and slowly around a young colt must be impressed upon the young owner. The baby must first become accustomed to the feel of his or her hands. Slip the left arm under the colt’s neck while the right arm encircles the rump to gently hold the animal.
The colt may try to break free at first, but he will soon learn to stand quietly. The colt is then patted all over, scratched around the ears, and rubbed on the back. Before proceeding, the colt must tolerate this handling.
The next lesson will cover how to handle the colt’s feet. While holding the halter with the right hand, run the free hand down the hind leg, grasping the lower part of the pastern. Lift the leg slowly forward and backward. The colt may become disoriented and jerk his foot. Repeat this process until the colt learns to balance. Pick up each foot and move it around every day until the colt no longer objects and learns to balance. It is critical to commend the colt after each successful move.
Begin talking to the colt so that he can learn the tones of your voice. Because of the petting and praise, the colt will begin to enjoy each lesson, and eventually there will be no sign of fear. Around this time, the colt will attempt to play. Colt play is characterized by striking, biting, and kicking. These antics are adorable in a tiny foal, but they can be dangerous as the animal grows and becomes stronger. Now the colt must be taught what the word “no” means.