Yesterday was a pretty big day for the colt. He wore his saddle for the second day and he wore a bridle for the first time yesterday. You may notice that there is no saddle pad under the saddle. Because I'm not going to ride him with this saddle, I'm not terribly worried about having a pad. Usually for the first saddle or two, I don't worry about a pad, it's just something else to get in the way and it causes him no harm and makes the saddling process, at least for the first few, a little easier for him and me. But again, he had no problem with the saddle, and altho he was not sure what the heck I was doing, he took the snaffle bit with very little trouble.
don't taste like hay
In this picture you can see him gaping his mouth. He has only had the bridle in his mouth for about two minutes. As you can see he is trying to figure out what it is and what to do with it. There are all kinds of ways to get a horse to take a bit, some of them good, some of them not so good. You want to do everything you can to make the first time as pleasant as you can make putting a piece of metal in his mouth. Think about it. He has never had anything in his mouth, other then food and water. As far as he is concerned, that's all that's supposed to be there, so when he finds out it's neither, he is going to have questions, and you can see him asking it in the picture above. It did not take him very long to come to terms with the bit and realize he could not eat it and that it was not going to hurt him. I left him tied for several minutes, not asking him to do anything else but think about what had happened, and in no time at all he was ignoring it. Prior to this we had spent about an hour, doing ground work skills. He was jumping barrels for the first time and had no problem with that. That tells me that his courage and confidence continues to increase. These skills he is learning with me on the ground, will help him when we ride out of the arena in the future. There will be times I am going to ask him to step over a log, a rock, or cross water. I want him to learn that if I ask him to do something he can trust me that he is not going to get hurt. I try to expose colts to as many things as I can in a controlled environment, so that if things go bad he won't get hurt and I won't either. The more I can show him in the arena and expose him to, the easier it will be when we take our first ride outside.
He also got his first shower yesterday. Now I have had this discussion, in the past, about what we do with and to horses, thinking that we are doing it for the horse. But you all know that if you give a horse a bath and trun him lose in is pen, what's the first thing he's going to do? That's right, roll in the dirt. See, we think that they need a bath, they think they need to be covered in dirt. So a bath for a horse is for us, it's not really what they want, or need. So you may be asking. Why did you give him a bath then? And that is a great question, sense you know how I feel about it. Well, here is your answer. Water is a great tool for training a horse. How you ask? With water, I can touch a horse in places I may not feel safe doing with my hand. For example, if I am a little worried about a horse's back legs and don't want to reach down there and try to pick up his foot, I can use water to test the waters, so to speak. With water he can kick at it, if he sees the need, without anyone getting hurt, him or me. Water coming out of a hose makes a scary noise too. So you can get a lot done with water. I have used water to load wild horses that we needed to get in a trailer. It is a great tool, but you never hear anyone talk about using it as a tool. I share it with you so you can at least consider it when you have a horse you don't know or are not sure of.
Today will be more of the same. I am hoping to ride him for the first time early next week. He is still a little jumpy about some things on the ground that I would really like to have going better before I decide to get up on his back. I need, and want his first ride to be one that he at least, feels ok about. If something scares him when I am on his back, it could be bad for both of us. So if I can get him passed some of his concerns before we ride, then the ride will go much smoother, and that's what I'm after.
Now time for coffee.
Will try and keep you updated with info on what the heck I'm doing with horses and music.