Ann Brinkman – I would like to hear your thoughts and training process for weanlings: tying, clipping, desensitizing to clippers. It’s always good to hear how others approach the basic manners training. I always learn something or pick up ideas from other horsemen.
Thank you Ann for the question. I believe that young horses and young children learn from one thing and that is time. I have had people talk about imprinting babies and yes it does help, but I find that daily interaction is the only way to make a good horse. When I worked at Horseshow Lake Arabians 20 years ago we wouldn’t really teach the babies to lead, but every day from the day they were born we would put a halter and a butt rope on them and lead them and the mother to the pasture. After 6 months those babies all lead great. I have a 5 year old in for training that doesn’t lead and it has taken all of 6 weeks to get her to at least walk where we want her to go, but if something goes wrong she will still drag us around.
I get worried when tying weanlings. They are young and can be unpredictable. If I had to ty a weanling, I would use a ty ring. A ty ring looks like half of a snaffle bit. It’s a ring with a bar that swings across the ring. If you slide the rope through the ring and over the bar and back out the other side the rope will slide if pulled on hard, but there is pressure on it. All horses that come in for training start with the ty ring. I use a 20 foot rope and if they pull back I let them. When they are settled I pull the horse forward again. Clinton Anderson’s sales video on this is below. If you watch it he throws his hands in the air to scare the horse and it pulls back. When the horse settles he pulls it back forward and throws his hands again until the horse stands.
Clippers are scary for most horses at first. We were starting to work with a couple two year olds today actually. I turn on the clippers while still hanging on the wall and brush the horse in the crossties. Once they are good about it I will hold the clippers and brush the horse with the other hand. When I start to touch the horse with the clippers I always start at the neck or shoulder. If you start at the nose the horse may strike. Just take your time and remember the horse learns from the release not from the pressure, so if you want the horse to stand quietly for anything you keep applying the pressure (rubbing the clippers on the horse) until they stand still and then remove the pressure. (Remove the clippers in this case.) Clinton Anderson has a great video on clipping as well.
You have to go slow to go fast. Take time and go slow with all of this. For example, I started getting on the two year olds that we are starting under saddle a week ago. Out of 4 that I am getting on I have only lay across 2 and sat upright on 2. I have walked one around. I will probably not walk the other 3 for another week. When I do start walking around I seldom have any trouble because I have been on and off them 20 to 30 times. They are very comfortable with me climbing around on them.
I hope this helps and thank you for the question!