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Horse Help Center

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colt training

Hello...I just found your website and it is wonderful. I could not find an article about first time tying for the young colt. I recently acquired an 8 month old colt. He is gentle and I have started haltering. This weekend will be our first round pen exercises with him being sent off and learning to respect my space. I also want to be able to pick up his feet and give him his shots. I am wondering about tying him to get him used to standing. How short should the rope be, how high up should I tie him and for how long?

Thank you, Nancy in Texas

Hi Nancy in Texas,

Thanks for your question. The colt is still quite young for a lot of training time. Generally, foals begin more formal training, tying, etc after one year of age. However, there is a lot you can do with this youngster. Please remember that a young horse like this has little (extremely short) attention span as compared to a more mature horse (a yearling or older), is more likely to get frightened easily and do things like rear and go over backwards, that can do serious damage to the horse and you. Mistakes made now may become very serious problems quickly.

It sounds like you have a fair amount of horse experience already. Thats great. May I inquiry why you decided to get a horse so young that will not be ridable for a long time and will be considered 'green' for four or five more years? I always ask this question of folks who purchase very young horses. Are you wanting to become a serious trainer, breeder, competative rider or clinician? Acquiring a 'finished' horse is a lot easier to deal with and you can actually do 'stuff' with the horse quickly.

Getting back to your question. Teaching a horse to tie for longer periods of time is begun by starting with very short periods of time. Do not tie him 'fast.' Ideally use a rope halter and about a 15 foot lead. The horse should be tied at his eye level if possible and to something that will not be pulled out or broken if he does pull back. You want to use a good rope halter and a rope without a snap on it so he cannot break it pulling back and hit himself with the snap. Just wrap the lead around the rail several times to create a little drag on it. Allow about 2 +- feet of slack in the rope. Then groom the horse gently and easily for say 5 or 10 minutes. If all goes well, put him away as a big reward. Repeat this process a lot. You can begin to gradually increase the time tied as your sessions progress. I would not leave his side for a while as he can get spooked easily and it only takes one time to have a serious problem. Consider having a companion horse with him occasionally until he is really comfortable. As he is so young I would not expect him to be very patient with being tied for too long, especially if you leave his side. You can go out of sight for a few moments and then come back. You can gradually extend the time you are away. BUt, do not make it so long he will get afraid.

To get him used to having shots is not hard at all. Begin to 'thump' him all over until you can just about pound on him anywhere and he is fine with it. If you have seen a vet give a shot in a muscle of a horse, they thump the horse on the appropriate spot, before popping the needle in. Just thimp without scaring him. Give praise and removal of pressure when he relaxes even a little with the thumping. Be thoughtful about how hard you thump until he relaxes with it.

I have written about feet handling a lot. Please review the information easily accessed with the search feature within the Help Center.

Good Luck and thanks again for your question.

Best regards, Franklin

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