Sam is my 8 year old recently wild BLM mustang gelding. He’s only been interacting with humans since February.
Training Sam has been a big challenge because he’s spent so long in the wild doing his own thing, listening to a human isn’t something he was taking to easily. We bonded, continually bond daily and I have had to customize my training methods for him specifically. He’s cam but very reactive so I focused on practicing Exercises that promoted him to use his thinking side of his brain instead of his reacting side. This took the longest because his reacting side has kept him alive his whole life now he has to learn to not “run now, look later”. Once he was thinking more and more I started to lay over him and eventually sit up. I chose to do this without a halter or bareback pad just him and I. No force, no restraints. He trusted me but I had to trust him just as much.
Once he was used to me sitting on him, rolling all over him, sliding off both sides of him, it was finally time for his first ride! My fiancé helped me. My training methods require a rider and a ground person at the first stages of riding so the transfer of control from me on the ground to the person on their back. I always have something familiar when I’m introducing something new. The ground person helps for added comfort and confidence for the horse until the horse gets used to the rider giving cues. The rider will ask them I’ll help enforce the cue from the ground so the horse is never confused then once they do as their asked it’s big time praises. This helps the horse become confident and relaxes as well as look forward to riding the next time.
First rides are short just a few steps then every time after, it’s a little more but this way the horse isn’t overwhelmed.
Two hours of prep, patience and making sure Sam was calm before moving into the next step.
Sam has never been worked with by my fiancé Adam so I first had to get them trusting each other then he started to lay over him then Adam lunged him then finally he jumped up like I do and sat up. We stayed at this point close to half an hour just letting him and talking to him. Sam started falling asleep which is a perfect sign to start moving up to the next stage. The next thing on the list was to take a few walking steps and then end on a good note. I don’t push them their first ride I like them to know they did a good job and we aren’t forcing more. Four walking steps with a rider may not look like much but for a horse that has been wild his whole life, 8 years and less than a year in captivity, also only with a human (me) for 4 months, its HUGE!
Anything can happen in the first steps. Standing is easy I teach all of my horses to stand and accept new things way before being ridden but getting them to walk with a rider can be scary and weird for them. The riders weight is strange and feeling the human moving as they walk is all new. But I do a lot of ground work to prepare Sam for this day and it went very well!
I choose to start all of my horses, especially mustangs, bareback. They are more reactive and they do best bareback when they can feel the rider. Saddles add a gap in communication between horse and human so first rides are best with less 🙂
Took my toddlers up horse camping for their first time they were good kids it was a lot to take in for them but each outing they get better and better!
We went to White Fish horse camp in Crescent, OR. It’s one of my favorites since you can ride to high lakes but you’ve got to time your trip between snow melt and misquotes. Great camping and the friendliest camp hosts ever!
Anyhow, some horse camping tips I found to make the trip most enjoyable are:
*Bring the doggo but string up a high line so they can move and not get wrapped up or trip you.
*weed free hay is the only feed allowed. I prefer alfalfa pellets. I bring a bucket for their pellets and soak them well so they don’t choke and it keeps them occupied for hours. It helps them stay hydrated too if they aren’t yet used to the water at camp.
*bring insect repellent for you and your animals, I had citronella bracelets and candles we had zero big issues.
*bring blankets for your horses at night it still gets cold no matter how warm the day is and bring more blankets for your bed too!
Have fun and be safe! Don’t push your horse if they seem overwhelmed, walk them around horse camp to see other camps that way they get a good feeling of their surroundings 🙂
My horses don’t start to lope or canter under saddle consistently until they are four years old.
My horses are started very lightly at 2.5 years old then mostly trail rides at a walk until they are 3.5 then they are introduced to the lope but only loping occasionally in the arena until they are 4 when the refinement starts at the lope. I do this because I found, by this time, the horse has excellent body control and balance with or without a rider and can comfortably handle the lope and also carrying the rider without feeling overwhelmed or stressed.
The best part of starting their first loping or canter strides this late is they immediately pick up the correct lead, and they are slow and collected naturally from their knowledge from the ground and lunging. It’s a very enjoyable experience, no buck, no fuss and the horse almost begs for it because it’s fun and new!
Trailing the youngster is all about keeping it fun and building their confidence 🙂
What a bond we share! Most horse’s when let out into the big pasture take off running to explore, not Sam he stayed by me where it’s safe. He allowed me to lead the way and show him around without a halter or force. He listened when I called him to come closer, he came up right away. He loved it and got to mell new plants he’s never encountered before then he followed me back into his pen when we were done. What a special moment for us!