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twogeldings 09-12-2010 10:03 PM

Is this training OK?
Couple questions on my year-in-a-half colt. He's still a stud, but will be gelded as soon as the bugs kinda die off. The flies are horrible and the mosquitoes are downright vicious.

1. He's very, very mouthy. He likes to chew on the lead line, chew on you, get his mouth on things. Normally he doesn't mouth you when you handle him, but say your bending over to pick up his feet, he'll try to get mouthy.

What I've been doing: Light pop on the nose. Nothing hard, no smacking, just light correction. I move up to a 'Moderate' correction level, the equivalent of a hard flick, paired with a firm tone of voice.
He is young and it's just in his nature, he's not doing it out of aggression. If he tries to nibble on my pants when I'm handling his feet, he meets Mr. Elbow instead.
As for the line, I was thinking getting some bitter spray to discourage it. When he first did it, I popped the line as gently as I could, or shook it to get it out of his mouth. BUT he still got slightly hit in the mouth with the clip, which I'd rather avoid especially at his young age.

2. He doesn't lead all that well
Halters fine (surprisingly) but he doesn't really understand the concept of leading. I read something about a butt rope? The last horse I taught to lead was a 2 1/2 year old with a rope halter and a lot of patience. He most definitely would not have tolerated ANYTHING around his butt at the time. I doubt it would bother my little dude though, but how is it done properly?

What I've been doing: Well, not all that much really! When I lead him last, I was evaluating him to see if I wanted to really buy him or not. I wanted to test his knowledge of things to see where I would have to start with training. I just have him a small tug and encouraged him to follow me and not eat the lead rope. I assume theres easier ways of going about such things, though :)

3. What can I do to keep him interested?
I was thinking lots of games with jugs, jolly balls, tarps, plastic bags, etc. Make 'scary' things into 'fun' things. Teach him to flex on command, i.e, I tap one side, say 'Flex' and he brings his head around. Simple stuff like that. I just don't wanna run out of things to do, is it okay to do very light lunge work at that age? Once or twice around in both directions?

Are there any tricks I could teach him? I think bowing would be too stressful on young joints until he's at least 2 1/2-3 years old, but what about laying down?

As far as saddle work goes, it depends on how he grows and matures.
If he matures normally, I want to start him with walking surcingle work at two years. Basic ground driving and flexing commands in a snaffle with rollers. I'd like to introduce a light saddle pad in addition to the surcingle at 2 1/2, in addition to a very light-weight drag.
Then a light weight saddle at 3 years, with light saddle riding at 3 1/2. Drag weight will be slightly increased. Moderate work at 4 years old, with a normally weighed drag in small sessions. Possibly with poles. Normal saddle work at 4 1/2. I'd like to have him pulling a cart at 5-6 years old.
I may or may not introduce a mild show curb at 5 years.

I would also like to start showing at a 3 year old. I think 2 is still a little too young. We'd be starting with Showmanship and halter classes, starting with trail-type classes at four years. Depending on how he progresses, possibly do some walk/trot classes at four 1/2, MAYBE at four years if he's already moved up to such a level.

What do you guys think? Please point out any faults you see, I don't want to go blindly in thinking it's all dandy!

trailhorserider 09-12-2010 10:33 PM

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Hi! Your post about your colt being mouthy reminds me so much of my colt Zane. Except Zane is only 2 months old. I hope I don't have another 1 1/2 years of mouthy to look forward to, lol! :lol: He does the exact same things, tries to nibble on my back when I pick up his feet, chews the lead rope, chews my clothes, chews all the other horses tails. Sigh!

I correct him in a similar fashion too. Either flicking his nose or bumping his nose with my hand when he tries to bite. Chewing I try to divert him away from whatever he is trying to chew. Today I was ponying him off another horse and he was trying to chew my saddle blanket, and when I got home I saw he had chewed my leather saddle strings when I wasn't looking. He isn't being mean either, he has only used his teeth on a few occasions, but I don't want him to really start biting, know what I mean? So I am trying to nip it in the bud early. It's like he knows it's wrong but can't help himself!

I taught my baby to lead with a butt rope, which is just a rope that goes around their rump that you can pull on to encourage them to lead if they aren't leading to halter pressure. But at one and a half years, I don't know if that would work. Hopefully someone with more experience can tell you that, but I have a feeling he is a little old for the butt rope technique. I am raising my first colt, however I have a good friend that has raised a bunch of them and she always uses a dressage whip to help teach them to lead. If they lag or refuse to move, they get gentle tapping until they do move. I have my colt leading without a butt rope and with a dressage whip already.

I think your idea of the tarps, balls, etc. is a good one. I did the same thing with my baby when he was just weeks old, and he thinks tarps are toys! He also has a couple of Jolly Balls that a neighbor lent me, but me bites them more than anything else. He doesn't toss them around like I hoped he would. But like I said, he loves the tarp and anything like that (even feed sacks). :-)

It sounds like you have a really good game plan. If it were me, I would start with the leading, because that is the foundation for all of his other training. Sorry I can't help you with much detail, because this is my first colt training experience, and my guy is much younger than yours. But here are some tarp photos for you to enjoy!

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