Here is a video of our 2 year old Quarter Horse ‘Frontier Blue’ getting the saddle put on for the first time. As this is a series, watch the 1st blog on him ‘Introducing Blue’ if you haven’t already.
As my husband says, after you have them saddled, they are likely to ‘blow’ (throw a fit, start bucking and trying to get the saddle off of their back!) when you ask them to walk out for the first time. He was prepared for this, although Blue did not. Doug stops often and reassures the horse that it is okay, helping him to realize the saddle is nothing to fear. After the horse seems settled with the saddle and movement, Doug goes back to what the horse learnt in his 1st training session, now with the saddle on. He continues to learn his ‘whoa’ and both directions on the lunge line, but now with a saddle.
It all starts with the trainer being confident and calm. The horse is looking to Doug for security. Doug wants Blue to learn to stay calm and relaxed, that there is nothing to fear. We do not want Blue to learn how to buck. If he did start to dance around or buck, we would say whoa, and try and get him to stop as quick as possible. Bucking is a learned behaviour. We do not want him to know how to do it. The saying ‘Breaking a Horse’ came from the olden days where some people would saddle up the horse, put it in a corral and let it buck until it was too tired to keep bucking. We do not practice this type of training. Horses are very smart and we like to train them to be comfortable and calm instead. Horses also have a fantastic memory. That is why you have to be careful how you train them. For example, if you go out to catch your horse, and he runs around and around, and you think, “Maybe he doesn’t want to ride today.” So you leave and don’t catch him. Right there you have just taught him that he decides when he gets caught or not. You will then have a problem on your hands. You have to stick with the plan and catch him, even if it means more time spent or getting him into a smaller pen to catch him.
With all the horses we have trained they will always test you at some point. They may be willing at first, but at some point they will try and rebel. Both King and Count went through a stage where they would run away every time you got close enough to catch them. This went on for months but we would always eventually catch them. Now both horses know when we walk in the pen they could run around but why waste the energy? They are both awesome to catch.
All this to say, breeding is very important. We love working with these horses and their characteristics.