‘The First Ride’ is a continuation of Buck Brannaman’s colt-starting methodology, following the previous ‘Groundwork’ DVD. The benefits of those groundwork exercises are evident, as Buck puts the first ride on a colt he raised personally.
While there is never a guarantee of no surprises when it comes to young horses and inexperience, the progressive and sequential nature of Buck’s program means that his colts are set up for success. He starts by mounting for the first time from a fence, which not only exposes the horse to the sight of a rider from above but also allows the rider to rest weight on the saddle without the full commitment of swinging on. Once mounted however, Buck wastes little time in encouraging the horse to move out. It is important at this stage for a colt to learn how to move forward willingly and with relaxation.
“So you watch their ears. If things start to fall apart don’t wait until you’re in a bronc ride to get out of trouble.” – Buck Brannaman
Always be aware of where your horse is mentally so that he doesn’t start to take over. Then you can get to where your idea can be his idea. Buck is quick to reward the slightest try but equally as quick to discourage ideas that could lead to vices – including poor expression, becoming gate-sour or one-sided. Under Buck’s guidance, this two-year-old is soon travelling in all three gaits, turning, stopping, yielding hindquarters and forequarters and backing on a soft feel. At this point, many would consider this colt ready for a job so Buck takes a few moments to swing a rope off his back. He includes some tips on rope handling on a young horse and how to coil a rope without dragging it on the ground.
Hobbling is an essential skill for any finished bridle horse. Buck discusses proper equipment and demonstrates how he would introduce a horse to hobbles. The process is repeated and gradually time is increased until the horse can trust his human and turn loose to the idea of standing quietly.
Following the intermission, Buck introduces the colt to a snaffle bit for the first time. As always, he makes sure this two-year-old is thoroughly prepared by simulating with a lead rope first. Hand position is important for maintaining control and moving smoothly so as not to offend. Buck demonstrates how to use the halter to support the horse during the learning stages of the bridling process and how to remove it after the bridle is set in place. He then repeats the previous exercises that had been done in a halter and lead rope, only this time using the mecate. He is careful to give the horse time to search for the answer and to explore the new feel of the bit.
With the information and material shared in this video hopefully many colt starts will progress just as smoothly as it was presented here.
Running time: Approx. 55 minutes