I just acquired a BLM Mustang and will be doing all of his training myself, in preparation to send him to a professional trainer for 30 days once he is solid on the ground and w/t in the saddle.
I figured I would come here for some questions and support in the matter!
I've ridden for 15 years and trained a few Quarter Horses, but I've never experienced a mustang. It's a little disheartening to walk into a round pen with a horse you need to work with and not be able to touch him.
Some background: He is 5 years old and captured and adopted at 3. Since then, he's been worked with a little and ridden 10 to 12 times without too much incident. My goal is to start over, get him to trust me, get the basic riding skills down and then send him to a professional trainer to get the "handle" I want on him. Hopefully he'll be a good ranch hand to push cows with and take to ropings to be the "chute horse," which seems to be the job I always end up with.
I want to start clicker training with him, and was wondering if anyone has any success or experience with this method? I've heard good and bad things. I don't want to carry a clicker every time I work with him, but once you teach them what you want, can you remove the clicker? I would be interested if that's the case. I've usually just used old school cowboy ways to break my horses - I've never been too into natural horsemanship, but I want to try something new. I want him to trust me, and I want to place an emphasis on being a leader and partner.
He's a little wary of me, but leads, loads, lets me pet him all over, lets me pick up his feet and will let me pet him after some chasing down. I've only had a few days, and haven't attempted to ride. I want to put that off until some trust is built.
What methods work or don't work for you guys, as far as ground training goes? Anyone want to shed some light on clicker training? Clinton Anderson (never paid much attention to him, but maybe I could incorporate a few of his methods)? Parelli (sorry if I spelled it wrong, not super familiar)?
I'm going to start a journal of sorts here, to keep up with his training. Everyone feel free to chime in with tips and do's/don'ts as I go along.
Day 1: Unloaded Vegas off the trailer and put him into the round pen. Took some time rubbing him all over while he was haltered. Let him go and let him settle in for the evening. Had some fights with my cutting horses over the round pen, it was neat to watch him rear and paw like he did in the wild. Beautiful horse. Mustangs definitely have something different about them.
Day 2: Walked into the round pen and approached Vegas. If he moved away, I just kept right there moving with him. Tried to stay behind the drive line and move very unassuming and quiet. Whenever he stopped to look at me, I just walked away. Finally, he let me pet him after about 15 minutes and I scratched and immediately left the round pen.
Repeated the process in the evening, and we cut our time from 15 minutes to about 7. Yippee! As always, as soon as I get to pet him and he stands for me, I leave.
Day 3: Repeated the above process. Getting quicker! Only 5 minutes or so this time, and he began following and walking up to my back as I walked away. Very encouraging. Also had a bad horse fly experience and I had to catch him and introduce fly spray. He loved it, not even a flinch, and I bet he was happy that those flies are gone! Also found out he doesn't like treats... my plans for clicker training may not go through!
Planning to keep repeating the petting process until I can walk up and touch him without him moving away, or when he comes up to me. After that, I will begin the haltering process. He's been haltered, and led, but again... starting from scratch with this big boy.
After the haltering/leading - which I anticipate will only take one day - I plan on slowly starting him on the lunge line with a flag.