Kelly has been working with our group of yearling horses since spring of 2014, and she takes a patient and gentle approach for getting our ranch bred horses ready for guests to horseback ride out on our trails. It can take 7-10 years to train these horses to be gentle and responsive for our guests. Accommodating our guests on good mounts is our primary mission, and Kelly knows how to make the most of our excellent breeding.
Last year, a great deal of ground work was done with the colts. Touching them, lifting their feet, getting used to people moving around them, getting used to humans in general. Halters were introduced, and short periods of lunging in the arena was all they needed. Now that these horses are yearlings, they are out with our main herd of horses, learning the pecking order and figuring out how to be a horse at the Circle Z. These five horses are always together, probably feeling strength in numbers! They are learning the ranch routines of going out to the 700 acre night pasture in the evenings and coming back into the day corrals in the mornings. Most mornings they get this right, coming in with the herd, but occasionally need to be reminded to follow along and not linger. Routine at a dude ranch with 100 horses is vital in keeping our herd happy.
Kelly visits the yearlings in the main corral daily. It is very simple, yet methodical training. The key is to get them to trust and to want her attention. Getting them to come to her, rather than her chasing them, is future training for being able to catch the horses to saddle for riding. The next step will be getting them used to the saddles, and very brief periods of riding once they are no longer afraid. As prey animals, with a strong flight response, teaching them to deal with stressors is paramount to a safe and happy horse.
We will continue in future blogs on the yearlings progress, and up for the next blog is Mimma, our 2 year old mare, who is going to be a wonderful palamino horse for our guests to ride.