“Starting” Colts

Horse training and horse taming are really two very different art forms. These days here at our ranch we use a combination of “modern” round pen work and a method known in north America as “ponying” or in Mexico “padrino,” which means godfather. We keep the young horse coming along slowly with a lot of help to avoid allowing him to buck, because as my old mentor used to say

“They don’t learn nothing by bucking but how to buck!”

I was amused at a story I once heard about starting colts way south in Mexico.The scene was a dirt street in a small town, or pueblo. The buildings were so close on either side of this street that only at midday did the street receive sunlight. The two-year-old colt was brought out to the street by a rope around his neck. In the street, held by two or three charros, it was fitted with a hackamore, then saddled and cinched up. An older, steady stock horse then moved in front of the colt, and the mecate of the hackamore was dallied around the horn of the padrino’s saddle. Then a second older, seasoned horse moved in behind the colt, and the rider roped the colt’s left hind foot. He didn’t dally immediately but stayed in readiness to shut down any attempt to buck. The “jockey” mounted the colt, just as two other riders slid into place on either side of the colt, to steady him in his seat. At a signal from the lead charro, the whole apparatus took off at a gallop down the street and out into the monte (the brushy open desert). An hour later five horses plodded back into town, four seasoned veteran cow horses and one very tired, very sweaty, but now very tame two-year-old new recruit to the school of stock horse training.

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