Shortly before the kicking incident I had Silver on the lead rope and introducing him to some friends. I had not intended to work with him at all, but since I was there and he was hooked up, I started leading him around, reminding him of the basics. In all the time we had not worked together, he still remembered how to longe, start, stop, back up, etc. He is still not comfortable when throwing a saddle up on his back but he is getting better.
It was recommended in a horse-breaking book that you work the horse from the fence. He has to get used to things happening above him and behind his head. This is one of the main things that a new horse objects to when being ridden for the first time. The other thing is the weight on his back. So, in any kind of training, it is best to break all the different elements into the tiniest possible pieces, get him used to it, then reassemble them one by one. That’s why I think fencework is going to be useful.
With all this in mind, I led him over to the fence and started hazing him from above. That is the ridiculous looking picture you see here. Of course, the trick is getting him to stay next to the fence at all. An option here would be to lead him into the chute and work him there. However, this could cause a wreck if he does get spooked. Further experimentation is the key, but having a second man on foot to keep him up close should work the best.
So, without the benefit of someone to pen him in, I could only do so much, but I did lean on him from the fence. Hanging on to the top rung, I just leaned out with my right hand and put a lot of my weight on him, but was still able to pull myself away if I needed to.
The next step is to get the saddle on him good and tight and let him get used to that or to try to buck it off. I did not want to do this without some experienced help, so the next time Dad was over, we drug the saddle out. We got it on him without a whole lot of fuss, but he still is not too keen on this process. Next was lowering the off side stirrup and the cinch. It’s really nice having help on this one, because when I just drop it down, Silver spooks and starts to back away, losing the saddle. This could further spook him, or he could step on it, but if nothing else, he learns that he can get away from it when he wants to. Because of this, getting the saddle screwed down tight needs to be done as gently and fuss free as possible. Once it’s on tight, he can buck all he wants. That would be a good lesson.
Unfortunately, the saddle (especially without the blanket) was too big. Without adding holes it would just be too loose and that would be certain to cause a real wreck if he bucks and it turns or slides. Not wanting to just let him go, we eased the saddle off, then led him over to do some fencework. With Dad kind of holding him there, this was a lot easier, but there were also some other horses over the fence that he was keenly interested in, which kind of distracted him. I waved my hands. I leaned on him. Eventually, I held on to the fence with both hands and feet, then squatted down on his back and basically sat on him like he was a chair. I know it’s not spectacular, but this was his first ride. It addressed the two main points about riding, being the height and the weight. Then, without putting nearly as much weight, I hooked my leg over his back. He never fretted a bit.
So, Silver’s first ride was really not much of a ride, but hopefully, by the time I actually do get on for the first time, it will be just as uneventful. I really intend to find the best way to break a wild horse without getting broken myself. I’ll keep y’all posted!