Old Bronc-Stompers

Old bronc-stompers never die (they just smell that way) also they learn to work with horses the way women do!

Young men are strong (not just smelling) so they use their strength to manhandle horses. In my youth horse training was more of a sport, man against beast! Oh, I made deep emotional connections with my first horses. But, I made them do things I mean I made them do things. My arms and legs were like iron weapons! (yeah, dream on, we’re still listening). Then I found that as I sailed past the sixth decade of life, and a few health issues, that no longer could I out-muscle a thousand pounds of cowpony dynamite. Nor was my balance there for me anymore. Heck, I can’t even stand on one foot long enough to put on a sock. If I am tired, my position in the saddle goes to “you know where, in a handbasket”. So now, my main weapon is psychology. I figure out what motivates a horse, then I reward the right answers, which consist of the right movements. Mainly they want food, their buddies, and to be able to move, especially movements that get them away from me, so as to be left alone. The term “buddies” is even negotiable. For instance, when they’ve ridden in a stock trailer together to get to the pasture to work cows, the horse they came with, but never saw before, becomes their long lost pal on the other side of the pasture, needing to be nickered at instead of concentrating on the cows. Food is a bit more straightforward, but there’s always the risk of making horses “mouthy,” especially young stallions. So we’re down to movement. In the small pen at liberty, I encourage the horse to run away more than he wants to until he figures out that he gets to rest by being beside me. In the saddle, it’s the opposite. He wants to leave me by going fast and bracing his jaw against the bit, pulling on my hand. So I stop him. When he relaxes, and chews and licks the bit softly, I let him go forward, as long as he stays balanced and relaxed. This may only last a few steps. Stopping, waiting for a jaw flexion like this, or rebalancing, then allowing relaxed forward movement, gets repeated until it becomes a habit. Maybe, after all these years, I’ve learned to think like a woman: make it seem like his idea!

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