My methods are those I learned from books written by Mark Rashid that I stumbled onto when I first bought Blue, "Considering the Horse". Blue hadn't been ridden much for a few years, but he was gentle and quiet when I tried him out before buying him. Once we got him home and bought a saddle, I rode him around the place a few times. After perhaps half-a-dozen rides, he began running from me when I went to put a halter on him; he had figured out that a halter meant he was going to have to work.
There's nothing more frustrating than a horse that runs away when you're wanting to ride.
He was in a smallish lot, so he didn't have far to run, but he could certainly stay out of my reach. I'd started reading Mark Rashid's book and saw a suggestion that it might be good to spend time with your horse when you aren't trying to put him to work. So I got a lawn chair, took my book outside, and sat in Blue's pen to read. It wasn't long before he was easing closer and closer to me, and soon he was by my side letting me scratch his neck. Next time I went out I took the rope and halter. When he came up to me, I rubbed his neck with the halter. Soon we were great friends, but he still had a tendency to run if he thought he was going to have to work. Because it wasn't a big pen, he didn't have far to run. When he'd take off I'd start swinging the end of the rope and making a hissing sound to keep him running. Soon he'd tire of this, slow to a stop, and let me walk up to him with the halter. I felt like a regular horse whisperer.
|Blue, shortly after I got him, with granddaughter Natalie, 2004.|
I gave my cousin, who is not a horse person, one of the many Mark Rashid books I used to own, and she said, "That book isn't only about horses, it's about people, too."
So true. Mark's books aren't filled with boring rules and instructions. He tells stories to illustrate his points, and the stories would hold anybody's interest. And, as Betty said, you learn some things about people, as well as horses. My favorites were "Horses Never Lie" and "A Good Horse is Never a Bad Color".
I can't break and train a wild horse. I may not know a lot about horse anatomy and diseases. But if you have a horse you like to ride, and he always runs from you, I can probably get a halter on him. Unless his name is 'Tude. There's an exception to every rule, isn't there? Actually, I did catch 'Tude once after his master had chased him for an hour, but it wasn't as easy as what I've described above. 'Tude is a professional work-dodger, and when he used to be with the herd, he'd see to it that you didn't catch any other horses either, by keeping them all running with him. Now that he's in solitary in a smaller pen, Adam has no problem catching him; he seems to know there's no hope of getting away.
I am so thankful to Mark Rashid for teaching me enough about horses so that I was able to have a genuine friendship with my last horse, Blue.
Oh, and we used my method yesterday to get the horses where we wanted them. I put a halter on one of the mares, led her out, and the others followed. Yes, it was that easy.