We know that relationship-based teaching works really well; resulting in an empowered horse, a truly intimate, loving, soul-based relationship, and lots of fun!
But can this play-based method stand up to the pressure of a deadline – a vet visit with the horse expected/needed to behave a certain way on-demand? And can a young colt who has only known play and intimacy with humans, be taught the skills necessary to be separated from his mother (he’s still nursing), led away from her to a prepared paddock (he’s never been haltered), punctured with a needle and positioned and held still, so that he descends to unconsciousness on the rubber mats laid out for him – IN ONLY 6 DAYS??
Let’s find out…
Note: I have left this video in real-time so those of you who are interested can read the nuances, the herd dynamics, the body language and communication, etc. Remember, I am not saying that anyone else should “train” their horses this way, or follow my example. I am simply showing how I do it and what works for me and my herd. Take anything that’s useful or helpful, and feel free to chuck the rest out!
The urgency behind the castration was because Juno started mounting my mare, Zorra, with his penis erect. This means he is fully capable of impregnating his own mother – despite the fact that he is still nursing frequently (about every 3 hours). Maggi Clark – who’s worked on breeding farms for 40 years – told me that colts mount both sexes as play, often with their penis descended. As long as their penis is not erect, there’s no danger of mating. Many stallions can be 2 years old before they need to be separated from mares, or castrated. On the other hand, she once had a 4-month-old colt impregnate his mother. It all depends on whether that penis is erect, or not.
Another thing: In retrospect, I absolutely should have used a flat halter with Juno, instead of a pressure-on-the-nerves rope halter! However, I did not have one anywhere near his size, all my other horses don’t even like wearing a flat halter, and that 6-day deadline had me quite panicked. I just didn’t think it through properly. Excuses, I know, but real nonetheless.
Of course, with the benefit of hindsight and from the comfy, non-stressed position of my swivel chair, I can pinpoint a dozen things I wish I’d done differently, or could have done better, or need to work on within myself. But thank god, at the end of the day, our horses seem to be most concerned with intention. If my heart’s in the right place, and I’m trying my best, all manner of cringe-worthy stuff is forgiven. And our relationship continues to grow in trust and love.
Jini Patel Thompson is a natural health writer and Lazer Tapping instructor. She began riding at age 2 in Kenya, and got her first horse at age 8 in Alberta, and so continues a life-long journey and love affair with these amazing creatures.
4 thoughts on “Halter Training a Stallion Who Would Rather Mount his Auntie!”
It’s so nice to see people actually show how they achieve progress instead of skipping all the steps prior to it. So thank you for that.
Yes I agree! I find it far more helpful to ‘go on the journey’ with all it’s ups and downs, rather than just seeing the ta-da! at the end. I think seeing mistakes is far more valuable and helpful than seeing everything done right. Which really, how often does that exist in a REAL relationship – which is often messy? 🙂
Hi Jini, thank you for posting your method. Always nice to see respectful training. I have one question though. Why did you put off halter training for so long? My concerns about that are, say, for instance, if Juno had a medical emergency at 5 months old, being able to be haltered and even perhaps trailered would make it safer for all concerned…both for the horse and attending humans.
Yes I hear you. And I find that’s a balancing act for me. While there are skills I need to teach them in case of emergency, on the other hand, to allow their development and our relationship to be dictated by fear and what-ifs, doesn’t feel good to me either.
In Iceland, breeders purposely don’t touch their foals until they are 4 years old. They believe the horse needs to run wild with it’s herd for 4 full years, and if you handle it at all before that, then you ruin something essential in the horse. Contrast that with our safety-driven training schedule of getting the halter on and touching that baby all over within a day or two of its birth!
I like to leave my horses alone until they ask about something. Or until they want to do something that requires them to learn a skill or two. So the curiosity and the desire to learn is driven by the horse. Every horse I’ve had has been naturally curious and loves adventure. And so as we want to do something together, that naturally leads to the next skill.
However, as you can see in the video, sometimes things need to be accomplished quickly. But I think with that foundation of trust and companionship, they can learn pretty fast when they need to. Of course, if I lived in a fire zone, or some other place “emergencies” are common, I would probably have a different approach! Great question though – and one I’m sure a lot of other people are wondering.