Starting Colts Under Saddle

I’ve probably put more first saddles on horses than most horsemen. But, then that’s only because one of my chosen professions, since my adolescence, has been colt starting. It’s an adrenaline producing activity, with a lot of risk. And in an age of infernal combustion engines, one has to question its reasoning. Nevertheless, I’m addicted, so I do it. A friend asked the other day “So how do you start colts, saddle’em up and buck’em out? ”

Some do. And those who chose that method have got even more of an “organ recital” than I have, with broken bones, concussions, etc. I have been fortunate to learn from a lot of people who really did know what they were doing. We actually spend a lot of time working in a small area, at liberty, developing trust and bonding. By the time I put the first saddle on a colt, I usually do it without a halter or any form of restraint. But, then when I fasten the cinch, I don’t do it halfway. I make sure it’s buttoned on to stay. The reason is that the next few minutes can be pretty hairy! This week’s colt really put on a show! It reminded me of how I behaved at age five, when the nurse was going to give me a shot in the butt! When ol’ pony finally came out of his blind panic mode and accepted the saddle, we worked for a while and then it took off. Tomorrow we’ll do it again. The old vaqueros used to say “A colt ain’t got no work in him if he don’t buck with the first saddle. But he ain’t got no sense if he does buck with the second saddle! “He bucks the first time to get rid of the puma on his back. When he learns he can’t get rid of it, and he’s not harmed by it, the second day, he knows it’s no use. The first day was driven by instinct, the second by learning! if only I could learn so well and so fast!

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