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This may be more than you're willing to take on, and if so, I certainly understand. I live in Winchester, Kentucky, just twenty minutes from Lexington, the horse capital of the world. I have a two-year old Rocky Mountain gelding (just gelded a month ago) which has a great disposition. Two weeks ago I put a saddle on him for the first time and he didn't mind at all. I even leaned across the saddle and he didn't mind that, either. He was raised on a small family farm (owned by my wife's sister and her husband) and he's been around people from the get-go.

I attended a Monty Roberts seminar and saw how totally green horses were ridden in 30 minutes. Impressive, and no stress on the horse. He even corrected long-term problems like hard to load and bucking on older horses - more impressive. I tried his round-pen technique on my horse, and it didn't work. I think he just never saw me as a "predator" and therefore never did the "licking and chewing" or the lowering of the head - he would have run in the round pen all day. When I stopped pushing him away, he would just stop and stand there and I could just walk right up to him. My theory is that he is so people oriented that this technique won't work on him. I did notice when he was a year old and I first started spending time with him, just grooming, leading, etc, that he did the licking and chewing thing in his stall. I think that he "joined up" with me at that point. Could this be the case?

In any event, I don't think he's going to buck at all. I've seen my brother-in-law get on a green horse that he's raised and simply ride around, the first time the horse had a saddle on, and it never even occurred to the horse to buck. These Rocky Mountains are bred to be very calm and mild-mannered. I don't have a round pen and can't build one. My land is pretty much up and down. I'm bringing the horse to my place next week. How do I proceed from here with my two-year old? I'm thinking of forgetting the bit and bridle at first and simply using the "Dually" training halter I bought from Monty Roberts with the two ropes over the nose, like a hackamore. I like the idea of a hackamore, anyway.

What do you think? The horse and I get along just fine - he has no vices, I can pick up his feet - he's a good one. Thanks again.

- L. F.


You call that a problem??? Sounds to me like you've got a great horse on your hands! Assuming that you've got a "long" two-year-old whose back is solid enough to take your weight, you're ready for the next steps:

You didn't mention whether you've "ponied" your horse or not. Some horses will spook at the sight of a rider high above him. You can relieve that sort of fear by simply leading -- or "ponying" -- him around while you ride a steady, well-mannered horse.
Using the long lines on Fanny

The next step is to put the saddle on and run a set of driving reins through the stirrups. Then just steer him around -- staying well out of kicking range, of course. You may need a rope or carriage whip to keep him moving. Work him until you're confident that he's figured out what you're telling him.

Getting Fanny used to weight on the stirrup and saddle
Before you actually climb on board, you'll want to test the horse by putting weight on the stirrup while you talk and/or pet him. If he's still not nervous, put your toe in the stirrup, put some weight on it, then step down and walk away. If you feel comfortable that he's not going to spook, climb on board -- being careful to not slam down onto the saddle -- and hope for the best!
Mounting the first time -- keeping the leg clear of the horse
By the way, just for a little extra safety, you may want to fix the saddle up with an old-fashioned "bucking roll." Take a blanket and roll it into a nice-sized pad that you can position behind the saddle horn and tie down with the latigos on each side of the pommel. The idea is to put some padding between the saddle horn and your belly, just in case a sudden buck should happen to slam you against the horn.

And, of course, have a buddy with you. Depending on how the horses get along, you may want your partner in the saddle of a reliable horse and holding the bridle or a short lead rope while you mount up. If worse comes to worse, you'll have a pick-up man there for your one-man rodeo. And if things go as well as it seems they will, you'll have someone to take pictures of your success! [The photos at the right were taken during the session when I first climbed on board my half-blind mare, Fanny. As you can see, she did fine!]

Happy Riding!

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