Thursday, June 4, 2020

Fun and Imagination Can Be Useful Tools in Training: Introducing Colts to the Trailer

By Mary Gallagher

Recently I trailered a couple of young horses I’ve been training back to their home at Wensleydale Farm in Oregon. I invited two of my advanced Hoof Beats students, Elise and Elly, since they had been handling and riding the trainees, and since there are more great young horses at Wensleydale, including new colts. I really enjoy coaching my students, and this day was extra fun for us all because we got to play with baby horses!

Horses are full faculty learners at birth, ready within a few hours to follow Mom out into the big world. What this means for trainers is, you can’t start too early exposing a baby horse to all sorts of different things, familiarizing them with human contact and making it easier for them to adapt to the human world in the future.

With talented students, it is a match made in heaven—a curious colt and an imaginative handler. In this case, there were no great deeds to accomplish, just a chance to let the girls help two colts test out life in a safe way.

We decided to try some basic yields which would help prepare the youngsters for trailer loading. Elise and Elly played some preparatory games on line, getting the babies to follow a feel in all directions. After they all got comfortable moving around outside, we thought of asking them to move in and out of open stalls in the barn.