I started working with a colt that was bred to buck but just doesn’t have it. It’s something that I really enjoy doing other then it makes it a little harder for me to say goodbye when it’s time for them to go to their new home.
This colt that I have been working with is not like your average horse. From the time that he was born until now he has had a very limited experience with people especially people on the ground. He has been worked a few times on the ground to get loaded into the chute to get wormed, branded, cut and bucked but that’s about it the only other times he has seen a person has been when we were feeding in the truck or checking them and moving them around in pastures horseback. So I was really starting from ground zero no imprinting going on here.
In a lot of ways this is a good thing because he has never been taught any bad habits. But at the same time that means any bad habits that he has I have taught him and it was going to take some time to really get him going and learning the basics since step one was to be able to touch him.
I got pretty lucky working with this guys because he is extremely smart and wants to please. Each day that I went out he would grow by leaps and bounds. The first day he learned what the word whoa was in a few minutes, the next day he learned how to disengage his hindquarters and follow me around, then he let me touch him all over with the flag but then the next day that’s still as far as we could get. He didn’t want any part of me actually touching him he would get pretty close but just far enough that I was out of reach.
I kept thinking why won’t he just get a few steps closer. We are already this close and then I thought about my position. I was a little bit tense and I wasn’t ready to take that step just a little bit closer because although he had never offered to kick at me or paw at me I knew that if I left what I considered my safe spot I would have to trust him. I was wanting him to do all the trusting, because after all I had been fair I had done all of the steps and hadn’t lied to him. Turns out that’s not enough.
So I did what any good trainer would do I got a bucket and some cubes and sat my butt down on the bucket and offered him cubes from my hand where I had to feel vulnerable and trust him and you know what happened he came slowly decided that I was okay and let me touch him. (If you train horses your probably rolling your eyes right now but that’s fine. I know this isn’t conventional but if it get’s the job done I’m willing to try it.)
Now, we are good friends he comes up to me in the pasture and he lets pet him and were working on getting use to the halter and he is about ready to find a new home.
I think that their are two things that I have learned from working with this colt. The first is that to get trust you have to not only be trustworthy but you also have to give trust to get some. The second thing is that sometimes you have to work smarter and not harder. Sometimes as long as you have the basics down it doesn’t hurt to try something that’s not by the books to get around a problem.