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Wanstrom Horses 01-19-2013 09:33 PM

Old-School Horse Training: The Snaffle Horse
 
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There are many different variations of Vaquero horsemanship when it comes to using a snaffle. In the Old California style, the snaffle is rarely used. But in the Great Basin Buckaroo way, the snaffle is an essential tool. Many trainers believe a snaffle should be used for at least the first year. There really isn't a "right" time frame of using a snaffle when it comes to starting your bridle horse. Or any horse for that manner. If you want to strictly stick to tradition, don't use a snaffle. With my experiences, I find the best time frame for using a snaffle is between 25-45 rides. Depending on the horse.
Before I even get on the colt, I want them to soften up and bend to pressure on both sides on the ground, know how to carry the bit(not biting at it), free lunge both directions bitted up, walk, trot, lope, and be very responsive to ground driving. I usually don't do a whole lot of under saddle ground work when I'm starting colts. I do get them used to being cinched up, but not introducing them to weight yet. I really want them to focus on softening up and responding. The first ride I tend to take it very slow. I don't go over a trot in the first ride. I walk them, very quietly back and forth across the arena, work on turning both ways and stoping with the smallest amount of pressure on their face as possible. I really don't start working on collection until about the 15th ride. After quite a few quiet rides in the arena, and they are nice and soft and responsive, I take them outside. I get them working on cattle, checking fences, doctoring, draging calf sleds etc. I find work is a lot more important within the first twenty rides then fine tuning. In about the last 10-15 rides, I bring the horse back in the arena. I do a lot of penned cow work, I work them on the fence to get them rolling around themselves nicely. I work on collection in all gaits. Below I've attached some pictures of me riding an snaffle horse in her 10th ride. You can see how level her headset his, and how quiet she is. This is what I like to see in a well started snaffle horse.

Wanstrom Horses 01-19-2013 09:44 PM

Loose rings, d-rings, egg-butts, oh my!!
 
Many people ask, what is the best snaffle bit? It is really based off preference. I use them all, loose, D and egg-butts have all worked the same for me, as long as they are either heavy or weighted. As far as mouthpieces go, thats a different story. Many are under the impression that the smaller the moutpiece, the less severe. This is very incorrect. The smaller, the more severe. The twisted-wire snaffle is one of the most severe bits you can buy. It's like picking up a bucket with a very small-diameter handle full of water verses a bucket with a larger-diameter handle. Its the same concept with the snaffle bit, the larger the mouthpiece, the more mild. Twisted wire should be only used by very soft hands to avoid sores and hard mouthes. Horses shouldnt be started in anything but a mild, traditional snaffle with either a full copper mouthpiece or copper inlays. If I am restarting horses with previous under saddle training that are very hard mouthed and need lots of correction, then I will conisder using a twisted copper mouthpiece. I don't use twisted wire. I believe that a horse that needs a bit that severe needs to be restarted from the ground-up.

cowgirl4753 01-19-2013 10:59 PM

Very awesome! I have a 2-3 year old gelding that has had a handful of rides on him, last summer i spent most of the time just pony him around with my mare. I know you put a lot of emphasis on working cattle and such, which if i had cattle i would be doing!, but for us without what else would you suggest? How long of rides are you taking your colts out on? I have started lots of colts before but always with an indoor arena to use, this is like the first guy that i will be able to get some mileage on.

Thanks for your informative, non preachy threads! Im sure that once the weather gets nice Ill have a bunch more questions for you.
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cowgirl4753 01-19-2013 11:16 PM

Thought up another question, do you do a lot of 'sacking' out, with bags and tarps and what not, or just kinda get on and go? What do you do if you end up with a really bucky horse?
Do you do any tying around either on the halter or snaffle?
Just picking your brain :-)
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Wanstrom Horses 01-20-2013 12:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cowgirl4753 (Post 1852117)
Thought up another question, do you do a lot of 'sacking' out, with bags and tarps and what not, or just kinda get on and go? What do you do if you end up with a really bucky horse?
Do you do any tying around either on the halter or snaffle?
Just picking your brain :-)
Posted via Mobile Device

For someone without access to cattle, I would just recommend doing a lot of fence work to achieve a horse that rolls around himself pretty nice. But other than that, just get them experienced. A good trail ride is extremely beneficial to both the horse and the rider. Build a relationship with your horse. Get to know him and get him to know you. And everything that horse does in the first thirty days doesn't have to be perfect. He still learning, if he trips on himself while working on the fence, don't over analyze it. He's still just a baby and still is getting the hang of himself. Horses make mistakes just like humans. And I see a lot of people tend to over analyze their horses every move in the first thirty days. These colts are gonna make a lot of mistakes. I saw a lady one time, and she was riding her colt, which had been under saddle for ten rides, work for one week just on flexing at the poll and tucking his nose. Don't get me wrong these are crucial things for a horse to learn, and this horse did understand it, but he wasnt perfect. She eventually bored him of working on it and he learned to push through her "corrections" and she had to start back at square one. All I'm trying to say is don't over analyze and over correct your colts. Some mistakes are safe to wait on until the hackamore stage since you are cramming so much into their mind in the first thirty days. Other than that, just ride! Always stay relaxed and don't push the colts too far. As for sacking out, the only thing I really do is get them slicker broke. I find horses just get annoyed with the plastic bag and tarp deal. And a slicker pretty much makes desensitizes them to both. I also don't want my horses numb to a flag or a bag on a stick, just cuz sometimes in the first few rides, they will ball up and not want to move forward with a rider. Then I just have my hubby follow me around with a flag just to encourage them to walk forward. As far as Bucky horses, I kinda like to ride them if they buck a little bit, lol. I used to ride ranch broncs a couple years ago. But if they buck a lot and I can't seem to ride it out of them, or like now, I'm pregnant and "not allowed" lol. I get an inner tube from the tire store and fill it with sand, I then tie both ends and throw it over the horses back. I tie the ends together and then free lunge them. Then they can buck all they want and never "win" because they can't throw the inner tube. Or if I know they are gonna be very broncy with a lot of duck, I'll have my hubby snub them up to one of our broke horses and get on and have him pony me around. There are a lot of other methods to this too, just let me know and I'll go into more depth. I do a lot of tying around before I do ground driving just to get them to give to the bit better and soften up. And for the first ten rides or so, about hour a day. Then I move up to about 4-5 hours a ride. Hope this answers everything!! :)

wild_spot 01-20-2013 04:42 AM

Subbing.

cowgirl4753 01-20-2013 10:17 AM

Thanks, just love picking ur brain! I might go down to my neighbours tomorrow and see if he would mind me riding his herd. I cant see it being to much of a problem with his calving season fast approaching. An extra set of eyes is always good. :-)
When do you start roping with your colts? We didnt really start them till 4, but would get them used to the rope and dragging logs and such before that?
And Im not sure if I got to congratulate you on ur upcoming baby boy! I have a son as well, will be 2 come the end of March. Boys are trouble but so worth it! He loves the horses and going for rides or just getting pulled around on the tobaggan!
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Wanstrom Horses 01-20-2013 10:34 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cowgirl4753 (Post 1852453)
Thanks, just love picking ur brain! I might go down to my neighbours tomorrow and see if he would mind me riding his herd. I cant see it being to much of a problem with his calving season fast approaching. An extra set of eyes is always good. :-)
When do you start roping with your colts? We didnt really start them till 4, but would get them used to the rope and dragging logs and such before that?
And Im not sure if I got to congratulate you on ur upcoming baby boy! I have a son as well, will be 2 come the end of March. Boys are trouble but so worth it! He loves the horses and going for rides or just getting pulled around on the tobaggan!
Posted via Mobile Device

Thank you! If my sons anything like me, he will be tons of trouble :D usually in their first thirty days as long as their at least three years old. I don't do a lot of big roping, just dragging calf sleds and doctoring calves.

Ian McDonald 01-20-2013 12:49 PM

Stop looking at your horses ears! Look up! ;]

Wanstrom Horses 01-20-2013 01:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ian McDonald (Post 1852614)
Stop looking at your horses ears! Look up! ;]

Haha, it was blowing about 30mph that day, I was trying to keep my hat on :P


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