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My First Lesson By Dusty Fritts
ArticleMonday 05 August 2019
My Family lived in the hills of Vista, Calif.
My Mother came running to the kitchen, as she heard me screaming. At 2 years old, I'd crawled up into the kitchen chair. Standing up, facing out the screenless window, I was screaming in JOY.
A huge brown animal was reaching his nose to ME! My first encounter with a horse. Never my last.
The 5 year old Three Bar horse taught me something about stallions. He bucked off his elder owner and amidst the scrambling, the man got his back broke. He offered to pay me to saddle break the stud so he could sell him easier. At seventeen, very energetic and so sure of myself, I took the job.
After all, I had rode several horses down the road, thru water….I was experienced! He and I started in the round pen. Easy longing, walk, trot, change directions. He was under no stress. He didn't care for backing up. I would "get after" him with a riding crop to his chest to back up. He would gently warn me with pinned ears, but I paid him no heed.
At 15.3H tall, he was impressive. I felt self-assured, having such an animal under my control. After a week of walk, trot, whoa and reverse, it was time to learn the lope on command.In the round pen, exercising what he already had learned, he was asked for a lope.
Losing my patients with him as he refused to break into a lope, I started popping the whip behind his back legs. I knew nothing about the signals he was giving me. The guy just trotted faster. He was getting stressed. I remember him shaking his head. Pinning his ears. He would not stay loping. He wasn't tired. Just not minding me. So I popped him hard with my whip on his butt, several times. I know now, that he didn't understand. After several decades of training horses, this stallion, years ago, taught me a valuable lesson.
A horse has a stress point. Some you push too hard, they give up and conform. Some, if they can't run away, they turn to fight.
He lounged at me. His powerful teeth grabbed between my shoulder blade and neck. He let go after dragging me twice around the pen. Guess his intension wasn't to kill me. Just letting me know I had pushed him too hard. He stressed out in confusion. I learned from this stallion, and a few more horses I had in training, you've gotta treat them with respect. Every horse has different personalities. Not one training method will be correct for each horse.
Watch your horse. Really Look at him, his face, eyes, learn his "body language". Talk to him through your body movement. Your horse is basically on the same level as a 3-4 year old child. Yes. Working with and training him is comparable to having a kiddo. Near 49 years of working, training and showing horses, it's an undying love that never ends!