I noticed, watching him work with the colt, that he made a lot of unnecessary movement, as if he was actually trying to upset the colt. That really went into high gear when he started flapping an old burlap feed sack around on the young horse. As time went on, the bay quarter horse reacted less and less to the old man’s actions. Finally, even jumping at him and flinging a lariat toward him brought no response. Then, and at the time I didn’t notice why, the man stopped and walked away from the colt. Now, decades later, having studied Ray Hunt, Tom Dorrance and John Lyons, I know that the man was looking for the colt to make chewing motions with his mouth and to lick his lips.
“I don’t like to walk on eggs around a horse“ he said. In fact he continued during the first rides on young horses to do a lot of moving in the saddle, swinging his legs around and waving his arms. He believed that the earlier you got them “sacked out“ the less likely they were to “spook“ later.
He would often say “Don’t never let’em buck. All they learn from bucking is how to buck better.” I’ve learned the wisdom of this statement over the years. My pink body doesn’t bounce anymore and I can predict the weather all too well with my bones. So now, most young horses I ride get a whole lot more groundwork than they used to do. Like one old cowboy told me
“If I’d a’known I was going to live this long, I would’ve took better care of myself!”