Training Mission

After the training session with Taj, I got out Mission. He is three. His dam was Fanny and his sire was Titan. I have been intermittent with his training. I started his training last fall, but not often enough to have very many sessions with him. In the sessions, I’ve been getting him used to the saddle which he continues to buck.

I have been leading him rather than riding him down the driveway. At this stage I don’t want to get in an argument with him about leaving the farm. Finally a little past the end of our quarter-mile driveway I mount bareback and ride him back to the barn. He doesn’t buck or protest, but he has tried to bite me twice by turning his head back to bite my leg. That behavior is new for me. I don’t think I’ve ever had a horse attempt bite me while I was riding him. Otherwise, he doesn’t arch his back or show any concern when I’m on him. On the way back to the barn we practiced walking quietly, turning, stopping and backing.


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Training Taj Mahal


Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal received his name because my daughter, Josie, was traveling in India and visited the Taj Mahal on the day that he was born. At the moment, I don’t remember his exact birthday. Maybe Josie will have a record. I think it was May 2001 making him 17 years.

Taj Mahal’s dam was Dancer (100% Arabian) and sire was Stampin kid (75% Arabian and 25%” Saddlebred). Taj is about 16 hands. He is hot-blooded both in blood and attitude. My neighbor bought him from me in 2010 and kept him as a lawn ornament all these years. He has been fat and happy. I aim to change that leisurely life. I road him back to our place about a week ago and have been riding him every day.

He is very light to every touch making him very responsive, but he is worried and pushes to go faster. He backs up awkwardly and stops too soon.  I was trying to ride him through a gate which he was worried about and he backed up away from the gate with a great deal of dexterity, but when I asked him to back up he stepped awkwardly backward two steps. Right now my goal is to help him relax and trust me.

Training him before I kept a log, I forgot what his problems and strengths were. It’s new for me to be training an older horse. He obviously remembered at least some of the stuff I taught him. When I saddled and mounted him there was no hesitation or objection. He was light and responsive to my touch immediately.

It’ll be fun to see if I can teach an old dog new tricks.





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Mission Ground Driving

Mission 9/13/17 3:09 PM

Today was the first day in the four days of training that Mission stood for the saddle. Consequently, there was no round penning. I tied the rope to each side of the bosal and ground drove him. This was the second day of ground driving and he already knew what to do.

Ground driving is a good exercise in desensitization (getting the horse used to stuff). The rope running under his tail or sliding around above his hocks is a scary at first, but he quickly began to respond correctly to the cues on the bosal and forgot about the rope dangling on each side of him and sometimes on his hocks.

After 10 or 15 minutes of ground driving in the round pen I took the saddle off and jumped onto his back several times. I did not straddle him. I had to jump to get my torso over his back and this startled him. He jumped several times but then he settled down. I kicked around gently and put my hands all over his right side. Aside from that first jump he responded thoughtfully and received my weight without protest.

When I was a kid I thought you’re supposed to encourage the horse you are training to buck in order to take it out of them. Now I do my very best to avoid bucking, not just for my sake but mainly for the horse. When I was down in Iowa some years ago I bumped into an old friend, Clarence Pal, who shared lots of good horse mentoring with me when I was a kid. When I met him this time I was probably 40 and he was probably 80. The first thing he said after recognizing me was; “If I ever told you to buck out a horse…that was a mistake and I’m sorry. Try to avoid bucking. It’s bad for the horses. It can make for bad habits!” By that time I knew enough not to let a horse buck  if I could avoid it, but I said, “Thanks, I’ll never do that again!”

Mission 9/12/2017 6:29 PM

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Mission Saddle Introduction


Mission 5/16/2015

Last May I round penned Mission to a successful join-up, but I didn’t put a saddle on.   Mission is now two years and four months old. He seems physically immature for his age, but he is still a stallion and starting to act like one so I decided to continue training to teach him how a polite horse acts around humans.

Mission 9/9/2017 6:47 A.M.

The above picture shows his first reaction to a saddle. This is very normal. You can imagine how scary it is to have that floppy thingy stuck on your back. It takes a little getting used to. I think every horse I ever saddled for the first time bucks usually violently except for two recent horses, Sophie and Rocky. After a hundred horses that always bucked this seems unusual. Or maybe I’m getting better at encouraging horses to be calm.

Sometimes I forget to talk to a horse. When the wildness increases I remember. The good book says “Say to the mountain be removed and cast into the sea and if you have faith it will do as you say.” I have never tried to tell any mountains to do anything, but anyway it seems to me much easier to talk to a horse than a mountain. Although I’m assuming that the horse doesn’t understand human lingo any better than a mountain. The amazing thing is that the horse usually does do what I say, but maybe I have more faith in the horse’s savvy than a deaf and dumb mountain.

After round penning for a few minutes, I asked him to stand with no restraint for the blanket and saddle. I walked toward him with a saddle and as I put it on his back he ran off. I encouraged him to leave by making the kiss sound. He did this several times until I remembered to talk to him.  I  told him what a great horse I think he is. I told him that carrying a saddle was just part of being a horse. He stood quietly and even allowed me  to pull the cinch up tight

After few a minutes of standing, he started to get worried about it. He swayed back and forth (a Colts prelude to bucking), then he burst into a high, elegant fit of bucking. The saddle stuck although the blanket slipped back a bit. I encouraged him to move and buck as much as he wanted by making the kiss sound. Gradually he began to relax, first to a flat canter, then to a trot. At my cue, he stopped and walked up to me. I praised and petted him while  I took the saddle off.

I repeated the saddling exercise two more times. The second time he bucked a little. The third time he did not buck at all.

Mission 9/9/17 2:59PM

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Horse Training Rocky: June 1-8


I didn’t get to ride over the last weekend, but I have ridden Rocky last Thursday, Friday and every day this week up to Friday the 9th.

Rocky’s owner asked me if Rocky had an attitude. Perhaps Rocky’s owner meant something different,  but referring to stallions, I’ve never met a stallion that didn’t have an attitude, especially at his age–a prime youthful stallion. For me, this is what makes the stallion fun. Nevertheless, Rocky is a calm, level-headed stallion.

One thing I’ve noticed about the calm, level headed types is that after they’re used to riding a little and they are understanding the general procedures when being ridden they tend to slow down and perhaps get downright sluggish, even to the point of balking. This is a temporary condition. Nevertheless, it needs to be worked out. For a day or two it seemed like I was going to have to work that out of Rocky and maybe it’s not over yet. But today, he seemed energetic and compliant. Everything was fine.

While he roars and makes a scene when he is across the fence from a filly (which happens when he’s in the round pen), all I have to do is wave the whip and he focuses back on me,  says, “Yes, boss!” and gets back to work.

Today I rode him with a snaffle. At this stage of his training, the snaffle seems more precise. He is lighter in receiving a snaffle than a bosal, although he is not particularly heavy on either one.

This week Rocky was introduced to the snaffle, the canter and the pinwheel. Also, I introduced a roommate. Mission is a two-year-old stallion just old enough to start to think about fillies. I introduced him to Rocky. A horse is a herd animal they need a roommate.  The two together have turned out to be a good match and less trouble for me.



Yesterday when I took  Rocky into the round pen, Mission followed. I saddled Rocky and left Mission in the pen. In the meantime, the mares walked up to the round-pen fence rails and began flirting with Mission. Rocky and I were doing our usual training ride in the bigger pen. Rocky became about as upset as I’ve ever seen him. We were pushing the edge of a cowboy moment! I thought he was just having a bad day when I noticed the shenanigans in the round pen. We went back to the round pen and herded Mission out of the pen and away from the mares. After that Rocky was back to his pleasant self.

Apparently,  there was too much flirting poured out on Mission, even if they are best buddies, for Rocky to put up with.


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