Crazy Cow Country Farm

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How to train a horse, part 1

October 8th, 2007 · 5 Comments · Uncategorized

Last week I received an email from a college student in Hesston looking for part-time farm work and she made the mistake of letting it slip that she trains horses.  Well you know what happened next don’t you?  I begged and pleaded and offered her one of my children to come out here and give me some help with Fire so we can get his hooves worked on – he’s just too spooky to give them to me for more than a split second and there’s no way it’s safe for anyone to be under him.  I invited her over Friday evening so Ed and I could meet her and we were both blown away with her confidence and presence with the horses.  Her observations were dead on and we immediately set about a training schedule – for me and Fire both.  Then I emailed Joyce, Blue’s owner, and said this little gal has finished many horses from start to under saddle and we were quite impressed so we thought she could help her with Blue as well.  Joyce agreed and we had Anne out Sunday for her first working session.

The first thing we did was tear down the panels in the barn to build the roundpen and turn all the horses out of the corral except Blue and Fire.  Then we concentrated on the really important task – setting up a cooler and chairs for our viewing pleasure.  Jack even came over and, naturally, brought his dog bowl just in case anyone wanted to fill it.

Then Anne went into the newly assembled roundpen to begin.  The first thing she did was simply get him to join with her by allowing him to run away then gradually get curious enough to come right up to her asking for her attention.  This only took about five minutes.  Blue was absolutely beside himself that he couldn’t be in the roundpen with her and tried to sneak in several times.  He spent the entire session either circling the pen or running full speed through the corral bucking and broncing trying to get her attention.


Once she had his attention she started her de-sensitizing or sacking out with her hands all over his body.  I’ve been able to do this from his neck to his butt but no lower than the knee on his back legs and I’ve never taken an eye off his hindquarters because he’s so spooky that he will spin on a dime to face butt to me.  Not a good position to be in.  After about 15 minutes she was able to actually get his back hoof up and have control for long enough that she put it down, not him.  This was amazing process for this little guy.

After she had this accomplished she sacked him out with the lead rope and lunge whip.   She did this by rubbing them over his body, under his belly, behind his legs, over his ears, and so on.   This gets him to trust her and the objects she presents which is the ground work for saddling and such.  When I saw her spin the end of the whip and rope gently between his back legs and he just stood there my jaw literally dropped.  She was SO calm and confident I was just stunned.  And get this, she’s seventeen.  That’s right.  This little gal finished school a year early, moved to college half-way across the country from her parents, and she’s cold-calling barns for work.  Holy toledo I can’t imagine that much fire in my belly at that age!  And she’s tough too!  She’s not afraid of anything and never flinched the first few times Fire spooked. 

Joyce arrived shortly after Anne took a break and then she worked with Blue for a few minutes to get a feel for where he’s at.  We’ve arranged for three sessions a week and the best news?  I figured out how to upload video so I’ll be out there playing camera-guy while she’s working and will then put it online to show off.

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