Starting the Colt

When I am riding a young horse around in the small sandy pen I am starting to think about connecting this early work with what he’ll be doing in ninety days, or two years. We start colts no earlier than three years of age, and as late as six or even seven. At the end of the first three months I am looking for him or her to be able to be ridden out in open country, on a loose or soft rein, over any terrain. He should be able to stop, turn around, back up, open and close gates, and work at a calm walk, trot, and lope. Now, if he’s going to go to a show, he’ll be ridden two handed, but at home a ninety day horse should be able to guide with the reins in one hand. Finishing this colt will take two years, or more, depending on his intended discipline, for a dressage horse may need several years to achieve competitive levels.We take him to new places in a trailer, and ride in unfamiliar situations. He has had time to grow up in a herd out in open country and develop his legs, his mind, his social awareness, and strength in his back. Now he’s going into his saddle work, much of which is mental, but it becomes more physical as we go along. At the end of his ninety (more or less) days, he will be considered “Green broke” and he will graduate to the working bunch. At that point his second phase, the campaign school begins. He will be given jobs, and different riders, and instead of seeing the world rounded off to black or white, he will begin to see shades of gray, way more than fifty!

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