The Modern Art of Taming Wild Horses/Chapter 13

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HOW TO HALTER AND LEAD A COLT.

As soon as you have gentled the colt a little, take the halter in your left hand and approach him as before, and on the same side that you have gentled him. If he is very timid about your approaching closely to him, you can get up to him quicker by making the whip a part of your arm, and reaching out very gently with the butt end of it; rubbing him lightly on the neck, all the time getting a little closer, shortening the whip by taking it up in your hand, until you finally get close enough to put your hands on him. If he is inclined to hold his head from you, put the end of the halter-strap around his neck, drop your whip, and draw very gently; he will let his neck give, and you can pull his head to you. Then take hold of that part of the halter which buckles over the top of his head, and pass the long side, or that part which goes into the buckle, under his neck, grasping it on the opposite side with your right hand, letting the first strap loose — the latter will be sufficient to hold his head to you. Lower the halter a little, just enough to get his nose into that part which goes around it; then raise it somewhat, and fasten the top buckle, and you will have it all right. The first time you halter a colt you should stand on the left side, pretty well back to his shoulder, only taking hold of that part of the halter that goes around his neck; then with your two hands about his neck you can hold his head to you, and raise the halter on it without making him dodge by putting your hands about his nose. You should have a long rope or strap ready, and as soon as you have the halter on, attach this to it, so that you can let him walk the length of the stable without letting go of the strap, or without making him pull on the halter, for if you only let him feel the weight of your hand on the halter, and give him rope when he runs from you, he will never rear, pull, or throw himself, yet you will be holding him all the time, and doing more towards gentling him than if you had the power to snub him right up and hold him to one spot; because, he does not know anything about his strength, and if you don't do anything to make him pull, he will never know that he can. In a few minutes you can begin to control him with the halter, then shorten the distance between yourself and the horse by taking up the strap in your hand.

As soon as he will allow you to hold him by a tolerably short strap, and to step up to him without flying back, you can begin to give him some idea about leading. But to do this, do not go before and attempt to pull him after you, but commence by pulling him very quietly to one side. He has nothing to brace either side of his neck, and will soon yield to a steady, gradual pull of the halter; and as soon as you have pulled him a step or two to one side, step up to him and caress him, and then pull him again, repeating this operation until you can pull him around in every direction, and walk about the stable with him, which you can do in a few minutes, for he will soon think when you have made him step to the right or left a few times, that he is compelled to follow the pull of the halter, not knowing that he has the power to resist your pulling; besides, you have handled him so gently that he is not afraid of you, and you always caress him when he comes up to you, and he likes that, and would just as lief follow you as not. And after he has had a few lessons of that kind, if you turn him out in a lot, he will come up to you every opportunity he gets. You should lead him about in the stable some time before you take him out, opening the door, so that he can see out, leading him up to it and back again, and past it. See that there is nothing on the outside to make him jump when you take him out, and as you go out with him, try to make him go very slowly, catching hold of the halter close to the jaw with your left hand, while the right is resting on the top of the neck, holding to his mane. After you are out with him a little while, you can lead him about as you please. Don't let any second person come up to you when you first take him out; a stranger taking hold of the halter would frighten him, and make him run. There should not even be any one standing near him, to attract his attention or scare him. If you are alone, and manage him rightly, it will not require any more force to lead or hold him than it would to manage a broke horse.