Halter Breaking and Training Process for Young Horses
The colts are halter broke after branding as weanlings for about 10 days before they are turned back out. The first day they are all placed in a small pen where they are fairly crowded. The cowboy will enter the pen where he will walk among the colts, petting and rubbing on them until they become comfortable with him. This step is repeated each day during the halter breaking period. The second step, the cowboy applies the halter and leads the colt out of the pen and away from the others. He is careful not to build resistance, but firm to teach them to yield to pressure and reward them with a quick release. Usually by the third day the cowboy will begin picking up their feet. It takes several days to create a good relationship of trust and it is very rewarding.
The colts are not handled again until they pick their mounts when the colds turn two. When the cowboys start them to ride, they do it as a group, “clinic” style, usually starting ten or more colts at once. One of the veteran horsemen will catch the colt and work with it before the cowboy saddles him.
They are worked with, saddled and ridden for three days in the round pen before going outside. By then, they are getting gentle and can be turned and stopped. The cowboys do this as a group because so that they may utilize the best horseman to snub the colt. We have other cowboys around to help each other. There is also a safety factor involved with everyone working together. During this process they are taught how to be caught, stand to be saddled, gentle to get on, how to flex their necks and arch their bodies, to turn either way, stop, walk, trot, lope and other basic skills needed to get a colt started. After two months of training, early in their 2-year-old year, they are turned back out for a month to rest their mind and grow. As the horses grow and mature, so does their job. By the time they are 4-years-old, they stand some long, hard rides. By then they have been roped on, worked herd, drug calves and all other ranch jobs.