The Modern Art of Taming Wild Horses/Chapter 17

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HOW TO SADDLE A COLT.

Any one man who understands this theory can put a saddle on the wildest colt that ever grew, without any help, and without scaring him. The first thing will be to tie each stirrup-strap into a loose knot to make them short, and prevent the stirrups from flying about and hitting him. Then double up the skirts and take the saddle under your right arm, so as not to frighten him with it as you approach. When you get to him rub him gently a few times with your hand, and then raise the saddle very slowly, until he can see it, and smell and feel it with his nose. Then let the skirt loose, and rub it very gently against his neck the way the hair lies, letting him hear the rattle of the skirts as he feels them against him; each time getting a little farther backward, and finally slip it over his shoulders on his back. Shake it a little with your hand, and in less than five minutes you can rattle it about over his back as much as you please, and pull it off and throw it on again, without his paying much attention to it.

As soon as you have accustomed him to the saddle, fasten the girth. Be careful how you do this. It often frightens the colt when he feels the girth binding him, and making the saddle fit tight on his back. You should bring up the girth very gently, and not draw it too tight at first, just enough to hold the saddle on. Move him a little, and then girth it as tight as you choose, and he will not mind it.

You should see that the pad of your saddle is all right before you put it on, and that there is nothing to make it hurt him, or feel unpleasant to his back. It should not have any loose straps on the back part of it, to flap about and scare him. After you have saddled him in this way, take a switch in your right hand to tap him up with, and walk about in the stable a few times with your right arm over your saddle, taking hold of the reins on each side of his neck with your right and left hands, thus marching him about in the stable until you teach him the use of the bridle, and can turn him about in any direction, and stop him by a gentle pull of the rein. Always caress him, and loose the reins a little every time you stop him.

You should always be alone, and have your colt in some light stable or shed, the first time you ride him; the loft should be high, so that you can sit on his back without endangering your head. You can teach him more in two hours time in a stable of this kind, than you could in two weeks in the common way of breaking colts, out in an open place. If you follow my course of treatment, you need not run any risk, or have any trouble in riding the worst kind of horse. You take him a step at a time, until you get up a mutual confidence and trust between self and horse. First teach him to lead and stand hitched; next acquaint him with the saddle, and the use of the bit; and then all that remains, is to get on him without scaring him, and you can ride him as well as any horse.