Twenty rides ago a new unstarted two year
old colt, 3 years old in July, arrived to be started. He is between
15 &15-1 hands tall, straight legged, low hocked, lanky ,
about 900-925 pounds and is going to be gray. After 3-4 rides
it was clear this is a really nice minded, athletically talented
What has he shown? The practice of "Slow
Hands" began showing dividends around ride #3. His response
was happening at about 3-4 on the scale from 0-10 of "Slow
Hands". He remains consistent after 20 rides. He has shown
extra ordinary "feel" since ride #1 which was the first
clue. He walks out freely with good cadence and long, relaxed
strides. He was not asked to trot until control was established
of each stride of each foot at the walk. This approach is completely
different from what I have used on any colt before. The first
time to lope came in ride #13. The theory behind this method
is simple. Establish a comfort zone for the colt at the walk.
This will always be the safe area to which he can return if he
gets into a storm. Move to the trot. If he builds in speed as
though he is unsettled, ask him to return to the walk. Don't
be afraid to let him find his own cadence as long as he is demonstrating
self rate. The same process will be repeated through the trot
and to the canter. I ride him with no contact because he is then
able to "feel" the slightest contact. His slightest
yield is rewarded by my instant release. During the whole ride,
I "feel" him in the face with the rein, push with my
leg, stop, back, walk, single rein supple and disengage the hind
quarters all at different times. These moves are done when they
seem to have no connection to any other thing at the time. Yes,
it takes more time and patience resulting in a better product.
This all develops the foundation of skills and the comfort zone.
The goal of each ride is to develop the
self confidence of the colt. Other skill development runs concurrently
and as subtle as possible. Repetition, time and no pressure are
very important. The introduction of skills is subtle so if execution
is poor, no negative consequence is administered. Why? Simple.
Just try again, again and again. All we're doing is allowing
the use of repetition as the correction not a negative jerk,
pull or use of a spur. Using this method will not build an area
of resistance to the skill. If resistance is detected, too much
emphasis is being placed upon perfection, pilot error. Remember,
always reward any try.
The rate at which Maverick has been executing
the skill has been very rapid. He finds the right answer very
quickly and with little to no resistance. Lots more to come.
Keep It Simple
Maverick at 5 years