Book Tag - Imagination in a Colt's First Ride

Deanna Castro of Improving Communication Between Horse and Rider book tagged me!

Here's the rules:
  1. Grab the nearest HORSE book.
  2. Open the book to page 56.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the next two to five sentences.
  5. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the cool book or the intellectual one. Pick the Closest.
  6. Tag five people to do the same.

I have to admit, in the mountain of books by my bed, which is the closest, there are all sorts of books on the Ancient Wisdom, a few Carl Jung books, other psychology books, all of the Harry Potter books, more than a few Stephen King books, Piers Anthony, Anne Rice, Douglas Adams, and the user manuals to my camera and cell phone. So, I had to dig for a horse book, of which there are three in the pile.

The first one I got my hands on without knocking over a tall stack was Curt Pate's "Ranch Horsemanship," but on page 56 was a full page photo.  Nice photo.  Same thing on page 156, thinking I could bend the rules just a little, but there was another full page photo. Dangnabbit.

The second book I laid my hands on was Pat Parelli's "Natural Horsemanship" (1993) and I still have to bend the rules just a little for the passage to make sense. I'm starting with the 4th sentence instead of the 5th.
Children, on the other hand, use their imaginations vividly in most everything they do. Usually, humans are regarded as children until they are about 12. After that, they turn into teenagers, at which time they succumb more and more to peer pressure.  That is where I believe imagination ends and rules, regulations, and doing what everybody else does begins.

Out of all the key ingredients in Natural Horse-Man-Ship -- attitude, knowledge, tools, techniques, time and imagination -- the two most complex to grasp are attitude and imagination.
I've read this book more than a few times. Parelli has, I think, a Bachelor Degree in psychology, and describes basic behavior modification techniques to use with horses, and rudimentary rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) concepts to use to come around to a workable mindset when learning about horses. This book is logical, realistic and safe in what he suggests. The most important point of the entire book is that it is about training the human to communicate with the horse, and it is not a horse training book. It is also the only Pat Parelli I would consider recommending to anyone.

The photo is my friend's daughter, Cody, and it was taken not long after she got up on Tick, the first time he's ever had anyone on his back. The horse's head and ears never budged. Neither did the rest of his body. With absolutely no reaction at all, there's no way to tell for sure whether the horse is accepting or so freaked out that he's ready to explode.

What Cody had to do was get some sort of sign which way that horse's mind was going, and that took imagination. Notice that her left hand has a pretty good grip on the front of the saddle. That hand stayed put the entire time she was on Tick. Usually, meaning not when she's leaning off the side like this, if a horse starts acting up, she'll reach behind her with her right hand and grab the back of the saddle too. Not many horses have been able to launch her off with that kind of hanging on. She had flapped her arms prior to this photo, flapped her legs, wiggled all around, and leaning off Tick's side was the last thing she did. The horse never moved. He never moved either when she tried to get him to walk. He was stuck.

There was still no way to tell whether Tick was going to buck, and if he did buck, just how hard. Cody doesn't weigh 100 pounds soaking wet, but on a horse his size, it's still enough weight to challenge his sense of balance and security. That he was stuck was a pretty good indication that he did not know how to move with weight on his back. Though Cody was leaning off one side, notice that the saddle is still straight, and that's a good indicator that she is actually still balanced and not pulling the horse off balance. She moved into that position slowly, and that gave Tick the time to lean slightly away so that both of them remained balanced.

I don't think it ever occurred to this horse that, even though all the other horses on the farm were often ridden, he would be also.  The first time I was ever on my horse when he turned two years old, it was like he knew it would happen, his head went down and he relaxed to the point where he just walked right off. Tick was stuck, and Cody's clucks and smooches and then nudges meant nothing to him. Finally, Cody pulled his head to one side until he had no choice but to move a front leg, which he finally did.

If the horse was going to blow, right then would've been the golden moment for it to happen. Instead, he stopped again. Another pull to the side, another front leg step and Cody built on that until he was walking a few steps before stopping again. Cody then taught him that if he moves when she squeezes her legs, she won't slap his rump, which she found startled him to walk off. Once he was moving off her leg easily, she asked for a trot in the same way. If he trotted when she squeezed, she wouldn't slap his rump.

The whole session was about 25 to 30 minutes. Tick didn't break a sweat, he was calm throughout and not confused at all. It was a good learning session. She'll ride him a few more times, then give him the winter off. Next spring is when more time will be spent with him, when he's closer to three and more physically able to handle riding.


Several people have landed here searching for information about "a colt's first ride," and this should help some. Keep in mind that the basic ground work and sacking out were pretty solid with this horse before Cody got up on him. There's a lot of info out there with all the steps included; just be sure that you are comfortable with that info and feel safe at all times. Many of these "TV cowboys" play to the camera and forget that others may not be physically able to do the same things that they can.  Showoffs.

For the book tag, the only two horse blogs I know of on Entrecard have already been hit by this book tag! I won't ask them to rinse and repeat. So, what I'd like to do is change it from HORSE book to any ANIMAL book you might have.

I know of two people that just might have a book on dogs or cats hanging around:  Pam of pamibe and Grandy of Functional Shmunctional. Tag, you're it!

If anyone else would like to pick up this tag, feel free to grab it and run!  Leave a comment here with a link to your post so we can all enjoy it.


  1. I'm doing it now; what a great idea! My book is fiction, though. ;)

  2. Loves it! That picture is great. It looks like the horse is saying "What is she doing? I really don't know, but I am just going to stand here anyway."

    She also looks like she is having fun :)

    Great post!


  3. Pam, fiction works for me!

    Deanna, Cody has become quite the horseman, and at 15, you won't see many her age better at riding. It's been a joy watching her and her sister grow up with horses.

  4. Wow 15, she is already so talented. That's great!