How to Keep from Running Away with Your Horse

The second day, after the 13 doubles, we saddle and longe the colt, then we get on and do a few doubles on the fence, turning him back maybe two or three times until he begins to just stop and stand, then we go outside. As he moves out into the open pasture he may begin to speed up. Immediately he gets doubled to a stop.This day on the left rein. I use the left first because most colts find it easier to bend to the left naturally, so I want to make it easy for him. I may sit there a bit, I may double again, but only to the left. Then I ask him to move forward, but only with a cluck of my tongue, not a leg signal. I want him to ease forward softly. Then each time he speeds up on me I double him to the left, the so-called “one rein stop.” Then we sit there for a while. We walk off again. This is repeated until he just walks on a loose rein and we return slowly to the barn. The next day we repeat the process, only, on day three, we double only on the right rein, again returning when we find that soft walk on a loose rein. On day four we go outside, and double left the first time he speeds up, then we double to the right the second time. By the end of the session, most colts (depending on their personality) have begun to “crouch” into a stop with the touch of the one rein.This is the so-called sit stop, or set-and-turn. He will also begin to understand that he is supposed to walk quietly on a loose rein out on the trail. This work over a four day period sets up a repetitious pattern in the colt’s mind. We want him to form good habits. The horse learns best from consistent repetition. It is much like basic training in the military. I remember once when Diana Christensen sent an Andalusian colt to us for training. She quipped,

“I thought I was sending him to summer camp, but it turns out it was boot camp!”

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