Groundwork is the foundation for a good horse | TSLN.com

Groundwork is the foundation for a good horse

Jan Swan WoodTake up the slack in the halter rope until you are making steady contact.

Everyone who has ever bought or raised a colt has had to face the time when the colt is no longer just a cute baby and the colt’s education has to begin. Every good saddle horse started out by having that first ride put on him or her. Preparation for that first ride can begin as early as when the colt is a weanling.

Whether you are the one that will step on the first time or it’s someone else, you can make it much easier by doing some groundwork. Good groundwork is like a good foundation: a lot can be built upon a strong foundation whereas a weak foundation will crumble under a load. Every positive thing you can do with your colt strengthens that foundation. The following are some of the ways to build that foundation.

Let’s start out with the most basic of procedures. You must halter him. For the purpose of this article, you will be using a hand-tied halter with a nine or 10 foot lead rope of a fairly heavy braid (usually ¾ -1 inch diameter) tied in. The hand-tied halter offers more feel to a horse, and the rope being tied into the halter eliminates the snap, which will bounce and swing and possibly hit the horse.

A lot of colts are gentle and will walk up to you to be petted and haltered, but there are others who aren’t that sure of you and will avoid being caught if possible. Have the colt in a smaller corral so he can’t get away from you completely, and offer him the opportunity to be caught. Keep moving him around until he stops and shows interest in you.

It’s important that you are ready to halter him when that moment comes. If the halter is wadded up in your hand or still hanging over your shoulder, it’s not ready to be put on the horse. Have the halter untied with both the loop and ends in your left hand and the lead doubled and laid over your forearm. A loop of the rope can be tucked up under your belt, thereby keeping the extra slack off the ground but still able to pull loose if the colt jerks away.

When the colt presents himself to be caught, meaning he has turned toward you, stopped moving, and acknowledged you, rub his neck and then smoothly put the halter on him. Avoid bumping his nose or face in any way as this could startle him and cause him to move away from you. If he is a little spooky, move slowly and let him see your hand on his off side before slipping the halter up over his nose. Steady, smooth motion reassures him. Once he is haltered, do lots of rubbing on his neck and face and then ask him to lead off, giving him time to realize he is caught and you are asking him to move.

Recommended Stories For You

If you don’t have your halter ready and the horse gives you the opportunity to halter him, he may change his mind, or think that you have, by the time you get ready. He will move away or lose focus and you will more than likely need to start over. As simple as this seems, it’s very important. Keep in mind that everything you do teaches him something, even if it’s wrong. It’s much easier to do something right to start with than to “unteach” the wrong thing.

After you have caught your colt, start asking him to just follow you in all that you do. He must turn when you do, start when you do, stop when you do, and even back when you do. You refine his response by establishing the leadership role in your partnership. You must gain control of his feet in order to control the movement of his body. If you can control his feet and where he puts them during groundwork, it will be much easier when he is being ridden.

Standing at your colt’s shoulder, step toward his hip while tipping his nose toward you. If he doesn’t move his hip and feet away from you, ask more firmly by slapping the tail of your halter rope on your leg or waving it a little toward his hip. If this doesn’t untrack him, slap him lightly on the hindquarter with the rope, increasing firmness until he responds by moving his hind feet. As soon as he starts to move his feet, reward him by stopping the motion of the rope. Soon he will pick up on the idea of moving before you have to increase the pressure.

Keep your hand that is controlling his head as light as possible. With practice he will cross his near hind foot over ahead of the other and turn his hindquarters away from you.

Horses have to learn everything from both sides, so work each side individually. If one side is a little slower than the other, just keep working until it’s smooth. Do as much as it takes to get a response but no more.

Frequent pauses to let it soak in are a good idea, as is leading him off a few strides before starting again. Let him know that he can keep moving. A horse’s feet may get “stuck” in the ground if they forget they can move off.

Lots of rubbing on the neck and face helps him to stay connected to you and also reinforces the release when he has tried to do something right. Rewarding the smallest try is important and takes some fine tuning on your part to give that release and reward at the right time. The better you get at the release, the better he will get at the response.

Once you have his hindquarters moving, it’s time to ask him to step over in front too. With his head tipped toward you and you facing a little more toward him, ask again for the hindquarters to move, then as they do, reach for the rope with your outside hand. Grasping the rope above the one holding it nearest the halter, gently ask the front feet to move across. If you get the slightest effort to even shift his weight toward where you are asking, reward by releasing the pressure. That way he’ll understand that you want him to go toward your hand. Keep repeating this until he steps right out and crosses over in front of you, putting you on his other side. Soon, with soft hands and insistence with the tail of the rope, this will be all one smooth motion. Do it in small steps at first with lots of reward and gradually build up to one fluid transition from side to side and back again.

All of this sounds pretty time consuming, but you are getting control of his feet, which in turn, controls the whole horse. If you can’t control the feet from the ground, it’s unlikely you will when you are on him. Time spent at this stage can save a lot of time later.

When you want him to turn when you are on him, you are going to ask for him to turn his nose and move in that direction. To prepare him for this, with the lightest touch possible, ask him to give you his nose.

Everyone who has ever bought or raised a colt has had to face the time when the colt is no longer just a cute baby and the colt’s education has to begin. Every good saddle horse started out by having that first ride put on him or her. Preparation for that first ride can begin as early as when the colt is a weanling.

Whether you are the one that will step on the first time or it’s someone else, you can make it much easier by doing some groundwork. Good groundwork is like a good foundation: a lot can be built upon a strong foundation whereas a weak foundation will crumble under a load. Every positive thing you can do with your colt strengthens that foundation. The following are some of the ways to build that foundation.

Let’s start out with the most basic of procedures. You must halter him. For the purpose of this article, you will be using a hand-tied halter with a nine or 10 foot lead rope of a fairly heavy braid (usually ¾ -1 inch diameter) tied in. The hand-tied halter offers more feel to a horse, and the rope being tied into the halter eliminates the snap, which will bounce and swing and possibly hit the horse.

A lot of colts are gentle and will walk up to you to be petted and haltered, but there are others who aren’t that sure of you and will avoid being caught if possible. Have the colt in a smaller corral so he can’t get away from you completely, and offer him the opportunity to be caught. Keep moving him around until he stops and shows interest in you.

It’s important that you are ready to halter him when that moment comes. If the halter is wadded up in your hand or still hanging over your shoulder, it’s not ready to be put on the horse. Have the halter untied with both the loop and ends in your left hand and the lead doubled and laid over your forearm. A loop of the rope can be tucked up under your belt, thereby keeping the extra slack off the ground but still able to pull loose if the colt jerks away.

When the colt presents himself to be caught, meaning he has turned toward you, stopped moving, and acknowledged you, rub his neck and then smoothly put the halter on him. Avoid bumping his nose or face in any way as this could startle him and cause him to move away from you. If he is a little spooky, move slowly and let him see your hand on his off side before slipping the halter up over his nose. Steady, smooth motion reassures him. Once he is haltered, do lots of rubbing on his neck and face and then ask him to lead off, giving him time to realize he is caught and you are asking him to move.

If you don’t have your halter ready and the horse gives you the opportunity to halter him, he may change his mind, or think that you have, by the time you get ready. He will move away or lose focus and you will more than likely need to start over. As simple as this seems, it’s very important. Keep in mind that everything you do teaches him something, even if it’s wrong. It’s much easier to do something right to start with than to “unteach” the wrong thing.

After you have caught your colt, start asking him to just follow you in all that you do. He must turn when you do, start when you do, stop when you do, and even back when you do. You refine his response by establishing the leadership role in your partnership. You must gain control of his feet in order to control the movement of his body. If you can control his feet and where he puts them during groundwork, it will be much easier when he is being ridden.

Standing at your colt’s shoulder, step toward his hip while tipping his nose toward you. If he doesn’t move his hip and feet away from you, ask more firmly by slapping the tail of your halter rope on your leg or waving it a little toward his hip. If this doesn’t untrack him, slap him lightly on the hindquarter with the rope, increasing firmness until he responds by moving his hind feet. As soon as he starts to move his feet, reward him by stopping the motion of the rope. Soon he will pick up on the idea of moving before you have to increase the pressure.

Keep your hand that is controlling his head as light as possible. With practice he will cross his near hind foot over ahead of the other and turn his hindquarters away from you.

Horses have to learn everything from both sides, so work each side individually. If one side is a little slower than the other, just keep working until it’s smooth. Do as much as it takes to get a response but no more.

Frequent pauses to let it soak in are a good idea, as is leading him off a few strides before starting again. Let him know that he can keep moving. A horse’s feet may get “stuck” in the ground if they forget they can move off.

Lots of rubbing on the neck and face helps him to stay connected to you and also reinforces the release when he has tried to do something right. Rewarding the smallest try is important and takes some fine tuning on your part to give that release and reward at the right time. The better you get at the release, the better he will get at the response.

Once you have his hindquarters moving, it’s time to ask him to step over in front too. With his head tipped toward you and you facing a little more toward him, ask again for the hindquarters to move, then as they do, reach for the rope with your outside hand. Grasping the rope above the one holding it nearest the halter, gently ask the front feet to move across. If you get the slightest effort to even shift his weight toward where you are asking, reward by releasing the pressure. That way he’ll understand that you want him to go toward your hand. Keep repeating this until he steps right out and crosses over in front of you, putting you on his other side. Soon, with soft hands and insistence with the tail of the rope, this will be all one smooth motion. Do it in small steps at first with lots of reward and gradually build up to one fluid transition from side to side and back again.

All of this sounds pretty time consuming, but you are getting control of his feet, which in turn, controls the whole horse. If you can’t control the feet from the ground, it’s unlikely you will when you are on him. Time spent at this stage can save a lot of time later.

When you want him to turn when you are on him, you are going to ask for him to turn his nose and move in that direction. To prepare him for this, with the lightest touch possible, ask him to give you his nose.

Everyone who has ever bought or raised a colt has had to face the time when the colt is no longer just a cute baby and the colt’s education has to begin. Every good saddle horse started out by having that first ride put on him or her. Preparation for that first ride can begin as early as when the colt is a weanling.

Whether you are the one that will step on the first time or it’s someone else, you can make it much easier by doing some groundwork. Good groundwork is like a good foundation: a lot can be built upon a strong foundation whereas a weak foundation will crumble under a load. Every positive thing you can do with your colt strengthens that foundation. The following are some of the ways to build that foundation.

Let’s start out with the most basic of procedures. You must halter him. For the purpose of this article, you will be using a hand-tied halter with a nine or 10 foot lead rope of a fairly heavy braid (usually ¾ -1 inch diameter) tied in. The hand-tied halter offers more feel to a horse, and the rope being tied into the halter eliminates the snap, which will bounce and swing and possibly hit the horse.

A lot of colts are gentle and will walk up to you to be petted and haltered, but there are others who aren’t that sure of you and will avoid being caught if possible. Have the colt in a smaller corral so he can’t get away from you completely, and offer him the opportunity to be caught. Keep moving him around until he stops and shows interest in you.

It’s important that you are ready to halter him when that moment comes. If the halter is wadded up in your hand or still hanging over your shoulder, it’s not ready to be put on the horse. Have the halter untied with both the loop and ends in your left hand and the lead doubled and laid over your forearm. A loop of the rope can be tucked up under your belt, thereby keeping the extra slack off the ground but still able to pull loose if the colt jerks away.

When the colt presents himself to be caught, meaning he has turned toward you, stopped moving, and acknowledged you, rub his neck and then smoothly put the halter on him. Avoid bumping his nose or face in any way as this could startle him and cause him to move away from you. If he is a little spooky, move slowly and let him see your hand on his off side before slipping the halter up over his nose. Steady, smooth motion reassures him. Once he is haltered, do lots of rubbing on his neck and face and then ask him to lead off, giving him time to realize he is caught and you are asking him to move.

If you don’t have your halter ready and the horse gives you the opportunity to halter him, he may change his mind, or think that you have, by the time you get ready. He will move away or lose focus and you will more than likely need to start over. As simple as this seems, it’s very important. Keep in mind that everything you do teaches him something, even if it’s wrong. It’s much easier to do something right to start with than to “unteach” the wrong thing.

After you have caught your colt, start asking him to just follow you in all that you do. He must turn when you do, start when you do, stop when you do, and even back when you do. You refine his response by establishing the leadership role in your partnership. You must gain control of his feet in order to control the movement of his body. If you can control his feet and where he puts them during groundwork, it will be much easier when he is being ridden.

Standing at your colt’s shoulder, step toward his hip while tipping his nose toward you. If he doesn’t move his hip and feet away from you, ask more firmly by slapping the tail of your halter rope on your leg or waving it a little toward his hip. If this doesn’t untrack him, slap him lightly on the hindquarter with the rope, increasing firmness until he responds by moving his hind feet. As soon as he starts to move his feet, reward him by stopping the motion of the rope. Soon he will pick up on the idea of moving before you have to increase the pressure.

Keep your hand that is controlling his head as light as possible. With practice he will cross his near hind foot over ahead of the other and turn his hindquarters away from you.

Horses have to learn everything from both sides, so work each side individually. If one side is a little slower than the other, just keep working until it’s smooth. Do as much as it takes to get a response but no more.

Frequent pauses to let it soak in are a good idea, as is leading him off a few strides before starting again. Let him know that he can keep moving. A horse’s feet may get “stuck” in the ground if they forget they can move off.

Lots of rubbing on the neck and face helps him to stay connected to you and also reinforces the release when he has tried to do something right. Rewarding the smallest try is important and takes some fine tuning on your part to give that release and reward at the right time. The better you get at the release, the better he will get at the response.

Once you have his hindquarters moving, it’s time to ask him to step over in front too. With his head tipped toward you and you facing a little more toward him, ask again for the hindquarters to move, then as they do, reach for the rope with your outside hand. Grasping the rope above the one holding it nearest the halter, gently ask the front feet to move across. If you get the slightest effort to even shift his weight toward where you are asking, reward by releasing the pressure. That way he’ll understand that you want him to go toward your hand. Keep repeating this until he steps right out and crosses over in front of you, putting you on his other side. Soon, with soft hands and insistence with the tail of the rope, this will be all one smooth motion. Do it in small steps at first with lots of reward and gradually build up to one fluid transition from side to side and back again.

All of this sounds pretty time consuming, but you are getting control of his feet, which in turn, controls the whole horse. If you can’t control the feet from the ground, it’s unlikely you will when you are on him. Time spent at this stage can save a lot of time later.

When you want him to turn when you are on him, you are going to ask for him to turn his nose and move in that direction. To prepare him for this, with the lightest touch possible, ask him to give you his nose.

Everyone who has ever bought or raised a colt has had to face the time when the colt is no longer just a cute baby and the colt’s education has to begin. Every good saddle horse started out by having that first ride put on him or her. Preparation for that first ride can begin as early as when the colt is a weanling.

Whether you are the one that will step on the first time or it’s someone else, you can make it much easier by doing some groundwork. Good groundwork is like a good foundation: a lot can be built upon a strong foundation whereas a weak foundation will crumble under a load. Every positive thing you can do with your colt strengthens that foundation. The following are some of the ways to build that foundation.

Let’s start out with the most basic of procedures. You must halter him. For the purpose of this article, you will be using a hand-tied halter with a nine or 10 foot lead rope of a fairly heavy braid (usually ¾ -1 inch diameter) tied in. The hand-tied halter offers more feel to a horse, and the rope being tied into the halter eliminates the snap, which will bounce and swing and possibly hit the horse.

A lot of colts are gentle and will walk up to you to be petted and haltered, but there are others who aren’t that sure of you and will avoid being caught if possible. Have the colt in a smaller corral so he can’t get away from you completely, and offer him the opportunity to be caught. Keep moving him around until he stops and shows interest in you.

It’s important that you are ready to halter him when that moment comes. If the halter is wadded up in your hand or still hanging over your shoulder, it’s not ready to be put on the horse. Have the halter untied with both the loop and ends in your left hand and the lead doubled and laid over your forearm. A loop of the rope can be tucked up under your belt, thereby keeping the extra slack off the ground but still able to pull loose if the colt jerks away.

When the colt presents himself to be caught, meaning he has turned toward you, stopped moving, and acknowledged you, rub his neck and then smoothly put the halter on him. Avoid bumping his nose or face in any way as this could startle him and cause him to move away from you. If he is a little spooky, move slowly and let him see your hand on his off side before slipping the halter up over his nose. Steady, smooth motion reassures him. Once he is haltered, do lots of rubbing on his neck and face and then ask him to lead off, giving him time to realize he is caught and you are asking him to move.

If you don’t have your halter ready and the horse gives you the opportunity to halter him, he may change his mind, or think that you have, by the time you get ready. He will move away or lose focus and you will more than likely need to start over. As simple as this seems, it’s very important. Keep in mind that everything you do teaches him something, even if it’s wrong. It’s much easier to do something right to start with than to “unteach” the wrong thing.

After you have caught your colt, start asking him to just follow you in all that you do. He must turn when you do, start when you do, stop when you do, and even back when you do. You refine his response by establishing the leadership role in your partnership. You must gain control of his feet in order to control the movement of his body. If you can control his feet and where he puts them during groundwork, it will be much easier when he is being ridden.

Standing at your colt’s shoulder, step toward his hip while tipping his nose toward you. If he doesn’t move his hip and feet away from you, ask more firmly by slapping the tail of your halter rope on your leg or waving it a little toward his hip. If this doesn’t untrack him, slap him lightly on the hindquarter with the rope, increasing firmness until he responds by moving his hind feet. As soon as he starts to move his feet, reward him by stopping the motion of the rope. Soon he will pick up on the idea of moving before you have to increase the pressure.

Keep your hand that is controlling his head as light as possible. With practice he will cross his near hind foot over ahead of the other and turn his hindquarters away from you.

Horses have to learn everything from both sides, so work each side individually. If one side is a little slower than the other, just keep working until it’s smooth. Do as much as it takes to get a response but no more.

Frequent pauses to let it soak in are a good idea, as is leading him off a few strides before starting again. Let him know that he can keep moving. A horse’s feet may get “stuck” in the ground if they forget they can move off.

Lots of rubbing on the neck and face helps him to stay connected to you and also reinforces the release when he has tried to do something right. Rewarding the smallest try is important and takes some fine tuning on your part to give that release and reward at the right time. The better you get at the release, the better he will get at the response.

Once you have his hindquarters moving, it’s time to ask him to step over in front too. With his head tipped toward you and you facing a little more toward him, ask again for the hindquarters to move, then as they do, reach for the rope with your outside hand. Grasping the rope above the one holding it nearest the halter, gently ask the front feet to move across. If you get the slightest effort to even shift his weight toward where you are asking, reward by releasing the pressure. That way he’ll understand that you want him to go toward your hand. Keep repeating this until he steps right out and crosses over in front of you, putting you on his other side. Soon, with soft hands and insistence with the tail of the rope, this will be all one smooth motion. Do it in small steps at first with lots of reward and gradually build up to one fluid transition from side to side and back again.

All of this sounds pretty time consuming, but you are getting control of his feet, which in turn, controls the whole horse. If you can’t control the feet from the ground, it’s unlikely you will when you are on him. Time spent at this stage can save a lot of time later.

When you want him to turn when you are on him, you are going to ask for him to turn his nose and move in that direction. To prepare him for this, with the lightest touch possible, ask him to give you his nose.

Everyone who has ever bought or raised a colt has had to face the time when the colt is no longer just a cute baby and the colt’s education has to begin. Every good saddle horse started out by having that first ride put on him or her. Preparation for that first ride can begin as early as when the colt is a weanling.

Whether you are the one that will step on the first time or it’s someone else, you can make it much easier by doing some groundwork. Good groundwork is like a good foundation: a lot can be built upon a strong foundation whereas a weak foundation will crumble under a load. Every positive thing you can do with your colt strengthens that foundation. The following are some of the ways to build that foundation.

Let’s start out with the most basic of procedures. You must halter him. For the purpose of this article, you will be using a hand-tied halter with a nine or 10 foot lead rope of a fairly heavy braid (usually ¾ -1 inch diameter) tied in. The hand-tied halter offers more feel to a horse, and the rope being tied into the halter eliminates the snap, which will bounce and swing and possibly hit the horse.

A lot of colts are gentle and will walk up to you to be petted and haltered, but there are others who aren’t that sure of you and will avoid being caught if possible. Have the colt in a smaller corral so he can’t get away from you completely, and offer him the opportunity to be caught. Keep moving him around until he stops and shows interest in you.

It’s important that you are ready to halter him when that moment comes. If the halter is wadded up in your hand or still hanging over your shoulder, it’s not ready to be put on the horse. Have the halter untied with both the loop and ends in your left hand and the lead doubled and laid over your forearm. A loop of the rope can be tucked up under your belt, thereby keeping the extra slack off the ground but still able to pull loose if the colt jerks away.

When the colt presents himself to be caught, meaning he has turned toward you, stopped moving, and acknowledged you, rub his neck and then smoothly put the halter on him. Avoid bumping his nose or face in any way as this could startle him and cause him to move away from you. If he is a little spooky, move slowly and let him see your hand on his off side before slipping the halter up over his nose. Steady, smooth motion reassures him. Once he is haltered, do lots of rubbing on his neck and face and then ask him to lead off, giving him time to realize he is caught and you are asking him to move.

If you don’t have your halter ready and the horse gives you the opportunity to halter him, he may change his mind, or think that you have, by the time you get ready. He will move away or lose focus and you will more than likely need to start over. As simple as this seems, it’s very important. Keep in mind that everything you do teaches him something, even if it’s wrong. It’s much easier to do something right to start with than to “unteach” the wrong thing.

After you have caught your colt, start asking him to just follow you in all that you do. He must turn when you do, start when you do, stop when you do, and even back when you do. You refine his response by establishing the leadership role in your partnership. You must gain control of his feet in order to control the movement of his body. If you can control his feet and where he puts them during groundwork, it will be much easier when he is being ridden.

Standing at your colt’s shoulder, step toward his hip while tipping his nose toward you. If he doesn’t move his hip and feet away from you, ask more firmly by slapping the tail of your halter rope on your leg or waving it a little toward his hip. If this doesn’t untrack him, slap him lightly on the hindquarter with the rope, increasing firmness until he responds by moving his hind feet. As soon as he starts to move his feet, reward him by stopping the motion of the rope. Soon he will pick up on the idea of moving before you have to increase the pressure.

Keep your hand that is controlling his head as light as possible. With practice he will cross his near hind foot over ahead of the other and turn his hindquarters away from you.

Horses have to learn everything from both sides, so work each side individually. If one side is a little slower than the other, just keep working until it’s smooth. Do as much as it takes to get a response but no more.

Frequent pauses to let it soak in are a good idea, as is leading him off a few strides before starting again. Let him know that he can keep moving. A horse’s feet may get “stuck” in the ground if they forget they can move off.

Lots of rubbing on the neck and face helps him to stay connected to you and also reinforces the release when he has tried to do something right. Rewarding the smallest try is important and takes some fine tuning on your part to give that release and reward at the right time. The better you get at the release, the better he will get at the response.

Once you have his hindquarters moving, it’s time to ask him to step over in front too. With his head tipped toward you and you facing a little more toward him, ask again for the hindquarters to move, then as they do, reach for the rope with your outside hand. Grasping the rope above the one holding it nearest the halter, gently ask the front feet to move across. If you get the slightest effort to even shift his weight toward where you are asking, reward by releasing the pressure. That way he’ll understand that you want him to go toward your hand. Keep repeating this until he steps right out and crosses over in front of you, putting you on his other side. Soon, with soft hands and insistence with the tail of the rope, this will be all one smooth motion. Do it in small steps at first with lots of reward and gradually build up to one fluid transition from side to side and back again.

All of this sounds pretty time consuming, but you are getting control of his feet, which in turn, controls the whole horse. If you can’t control the feet from the ground, it’s unlikely you will when you are on him. Time spent at this stage can save a lot of time later.

When you want him to turn when you are on him, you are going to ask for him to turn his nose and move in that direction. To prepare him for this, with the lightest touch possible, ask him to give you his nose.

Everyone who has ever bought or raised a colt has had to face the time when the colt is no longer just a cute baby and the colt’s education has to begin. Every good saddle horse started out by having that first ride put on him or her. Preparation for that first ride can begin as early as when the colt is a weanling.

Whether you are the one that will step on the first time or it’s someone else, you can make it much easier by doing some groundwork. Good groundwork is like a good foundation: a lot can be built upon a strong foundation whereas a weak foundation will crumble under a load. Every positive thing you can do with your colt strengthens that foundation. The following are some of the ways to build that foundation.

Let’s start out with the most basic of procedures. You must halter him. For the purpose of this article, you will be using a hand-tied halter with a nine or 10 foot lead rope of a fairly heavy braid (usually ¾ -1 inch diameter) tied in. The hand-tied halter offers more feel to a horse, and the rope being tied into the halter eliminates the snap, which will bounce and swing and possibly hit the horse.

A lot of colts are gentle and will walk up to you to be petted and haltered, but there are others who aren’t that sure of you and will avoid being caught if possible. Have the colt in a smaller corral so he can’t get away from you completely, and offer him the opportunity to be caught. Keep moving him around until he stops and shows interest in you.

It’s important that you are ready to halter him when that moment comes. If the halter is wadded up in your hand or still hanging over your shoulder, it’s not ready to be put on the horse. Have the halter untied with both the loop and ends in your left hand and the lead doubled and laid over your forearm. A loop of the rope can be tucked up under your belt, thereby keeping the extra slack off the ground but still able to pull loose if the colt jerks away.

When the colt presents himself to be caught, meaning he has turned toward you, stopped moving, and acknowledged you, rub his neck and then smoothly put the halter on him. Avoid bumping his nose or face in any way as this could startle him and cause him to move away from you. If he is a little spooky, move slowly and let him see your hand on his off side before slipping the halter up over his nose. Steady, smooth motion reassures him. Once he is haltered, do lots of rubbing on his neck and face and then ask him to lead off, giving him time to realize he is caught and you are asking him to move.

If you don’t have your halter ready and the horse gives you the opportunity to halter him, he may change his mind, or think that you have, by the time you get ready. He will move away or lose focus and you will more than likely need to start over. As simple as this seems, it’s very important. Keep in mind that everything you do teaches him something, even if it’s wrong. It’s much easier to do something right to start with than to “unteach” the wrong thing.

After you have caught your colt, start asking him to just follow you in all that you do. He must turn when you do, start when you do, stop when you do, and even back when you do. You refine his response by establishing the leadership role in your partnership. You must gain control of his feet in order to control the movement of his body. If you can control his feet and where he puts them during groundwork, it will be much easier when he is being ridden.

Standing at your colt’s shoulder, step toward his hip while tipping his nose toward you. If he doesn’t move his hip and feet away from you, ask more firmly by slapping the tail of your halter rope on your leg or waving it a little toward his hip. If this doesn’t untrack him, slap him lightly on the hindquarter with the rope, increasing firmness until he responds by moving his hind feet. As soon as he starts to move his feet, reward him by stopping the motion of the rope. Soon he will pick up on the idea of moving before you have to increase the pressure.

Keep your hand that is controlling his head as light as possible. With practice he will cross his near hind foot over ahead of the other and turn his hindquarters away from you.

Horses have to learn everything from both sides, so work each side individually. If one side is a little slower than the other, just keep working until it’s smooth. Do as much as it takes to get a response but no more.

Frequent pauses to let it soak in are a good idea, as is leading him off a few strides before starting again. Let him know that he can keep moving. A horse’s feet may get “stuck” in the ground if they forget they can move off.

Lots of rubbing on the neck and face helps him to stay connected to you and also reinforces the release when he has tried to do something right. Rewarding the smallest try is important and takes some fine tuning on your part to give that release and reward at the right time. The better you get at the release, the better he will get at the response.

Once you have his hindquarters moving, it’s time to ask him to step over in front too. With his head tipped toward you and you facing a little more toward him, ask again for the hindquarters to move, then as they do, reach for the rope with your outside hand. Grasping the rope above the one holding it nearest the halter, gently ask the front feet to move across. If you get the slightest effort to even shift his weight toward where you are asking, reward by releasing the pressure. That way he’ll understand that you want him to go toward your hand. Keep repeating this until he steps right out and crosses over in front of you, putting you on his other side. Soon, with soft hands and insistence with the tail of the rope, this will be all one smooth motion. Do it in small steps at first with lots of reward and gradually build up to one fluid transition from side to side and back again.

All of this sounds pretty time consuming, but you are getting control of his feet, which in turn, controls the whole horse. If you can’t control the feet from the ground, it’s unlikely you will when you are on him. Time spent at this stage can save a lot of time later.

When you want him to turn when you are on him, you are going to ask for him to turn his nose and move in that direction. To prepare him for this, with the lightest touch possible, ask him to give you his nose.

Everyone who has ever bought or raised a colt has had to face the time when the colt is no longer just a cute baby and the colt’s education has to begin. Every good saddle horse started out by having that first ride put on him or her. Preparation for that first ride can begin as early as when the colt is a weanling.

Whether you are the one that will step on the first time or it’s someone else, you can make it much easier by doing some groundwork. Good groundwork is like a good foundation: a lot can be built upon a strong foundation whereas a weak foundation will crumble under a load. Every positive thing you can do with your colt strengthens that foundation. The following are some of the ways to build that foundation.

Let’s start out with the most basic of procedures. You must halter him. For the purpose of this article, you will be using a hand-tied halter with a nine or 10 foot lead rope of a fairly heavy braid (usually ¾ -1 inch diameter) tied in. The hand-tied halter offers more feel to a horse, and the rope being tied into the halter eliminates the snap, which will bounce and swing and possibly hit the horse.

A lot of colts are gentle and will walk up to you to be petted and haltered, but there are others who aren’t that sure of you and will avoid being caught if possible. Have the colt in a smaller corral so he can’t get away from you completely, and offer him the opportunity to be caught. Keep moving him around until he stops and shows interest in you.

It’s important that you are ready to halter him when that moment comes. If the halter is wadded up in your hand or still hanging over your shoulder, it’s not ready to be put on the horse. Have the halter untied with both the loop and ends in your left hand and the lead doubled and laid over your forearm. A loop of the rope can be tucked up under your belt, thereby keeping the extra slack off the ground but still able to pull loose if the colt jerks away.

When the colt presents himself to be caught, meaning he has turned toward you, stopped moving, and acknowledged you, rub his neck and then smoothly put the halter on him. Avoid bumping his nose or face in any way as this could startle him and cause him to move away from you. If he is a little spooky, move slowly and let him see your hand on his off side before slipping the halter up over his nose. Steady, smooth motion reassures him. Once he is haltered, do lots of rubbing on his neck and face and then ask him to lead off, giving him time to realize he is caught and you are asking him to move.

If you don’t have your halter ready and the horse gives you the opportunity to halter him, he may change his mind, or think that you have, by the time you get ready. He will move away or lose focus and you will more than likely need to start over. As simple as this seems, it’s very important. Keep in mind that everything you do teaches him something, even if it’s wrong. It’s much easier to do something right to start with than to “unteach” the wrong thing.

After you have caught your colt, start asking him to just follow you in all that you do. He must turn when you do, start when you do, stop when you do, and even back when you do. You refine his response by establishing the leadership role in your partnership. You must gain control of his feet in order to control the movement of his body. If you can control his feet and where he puts them during groundwork, it will be much easier when he is being ridden.

Standing at your colt’s shoulder, step toward his hip while tipping his nose toward you. If he doesn’t move his hip and feet away from you, ask more firmly by slapping the tail of your halter rope on your leg or waving it a little toward his hip. If this doesn’t untrack him, slap him lightly on the hindquarter with the rope, increasing firmness until he responds by moving his hind feet. As soon as he starts to move his feet, reward him by stopping the motion of the rope. Soon he will pick up on the idea of moving before you have to increase the pressure.

Keep your hand that is controlling his head as light as possible. With practice he will cross his near hind foot over ahead of the other and turn his hindquarters away from you.

Horses have to learn everything from both sides, so work each side individually. If one side is a little slower than the other, just keep working until it’s smooth. Do as much as it takes to get a response but no more.

Frequent pauses to let it soak in are a good idea, as is leading him off a few strides before starting again. Let him know that he can keep moving. A horse’s feet may get “stuck” in the ground if they forget they can move off.

Lots of rubbing on the neck and face helps him to stay connected to you and also reinforces the release when he has tried to do something right. Rewarding the smallest try is important and takes some fine tuning on your part to give that release and reward at the right time. The better you get at the release, the better he will get at the response.

Once you have his hindquarters moving, it’s time to ask him to step over in front too. With his head tipped toward you and you facing a little more toward him, ask again for the hindquarters to move, then as they do, reach for the rope with your outside hand. Grasping the rope above the one holding it nearest the halter, gently ask the front feet to move across. If you get the slightest effort to even shift his weight toward where you are asking, reward by releasing the pressure. That way he’ll understand that you want him to go toward your hand. Keep repeating this until he steps right out and crosses over in front of you, putting you on his other side. Soon, with soft hands and insistence with the tail of the rope, this will be all one smooth motion. Do it in small steps at first with lots of reward and gradually build up to one fluid transition from side to side and back again.

All of this sounds pretty time consuming, but you are getting control of his feet, which in turn, controls the whole horse. If you can’t control the feet from the ground, it’s unlikely you will when you are on him. Time spent at this stage can save a lot of time later.

When you want him to turn when you are on him, you are going to ask for him to turn his nose and move in that direction. To prepare him for this, with the lightest touch possible, ask him to give you his nose.