Starting a 6-year old Bronc

Posted January 18th, 2013 — Filed in Stockmanship

Another old piece of correspondence that I found while packing to move to Missouri.  This is my answer to a student in 1995.

“Bud would not hesitate to take in 6-year old “broncs”  to break when he was your age as long as he had work for them.  Bud keeps saying that he isn’t going to get involved in horse or dog training, but being the kind of “Good Joe” that he is we always try to help what we can.  I have some video of Bud working three different horses that I’ll send to  you.  He talks on it and pretty well explains what he is doing, and why.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of getting the horse out of the corral and going someplace as soon as possible.  A horse that is frightened will seldom buck, he will shy or try to run instead.  If you have taught him to “give his head” and turn before you get on him, which takes about 20 minutes, it is not hard to bring him under control.  A horse that is mad will buck.  Too much fooling around in the corral makes a horse cranky pretty soon.

If you can get out in the country and put some miles (and I do mean MILES on horses of this age) on him while keeping his attention on you all the time you shouldn’t have any trouble.  When I say “keep his mind on you” I mean constantly telling him which side of the rock you want him to go on, ride him straight toward a bush or fork in the trail and take the opposite way than the one he prefers, ride him towards another horse then turn and ride him away from it.  Anytime he indicates that he wants to go a certain way, you take him the other way.

When we first went to the . . . . Ranch, they had a horse that  . . . . had been riding for several years.  He was always bad to shy and he asked Bud what he could do to break him of it.  Bud said “Let Eunice ride him for a while.”  All I did was keep him busy.  I never let him go to sleep and plod along with the other horses.  I constantly turned him off the trail and around this bush or that, always keeping my eye on his ears.  If they started cocking forward I would do something to distract him, maybe grab the horn and throw all of my weight in one stirrup, or slap him on the neck.   If he was really looking at something we took the time to ride up to, and around it until he wasn’t interested anymore.  I don’t think he ever shied with me, and within a month he never shied with anyone.

This is the same thing you need to do with a young horse.  I feel safer riding a colt that Bud has only worked with for three days than most broke horses.  Hope this helps.”

I have often tried to get Bud to let me make the “horse tape” available to the public.  He has never wanted to do this.  Some of you will remember my sparring with him about this in some of our schools.  The modern way of training a young horse is so different from the way that Bud does it that he didn’t want to start a confrontation.  Bud and I have always been concerned with the number of our friends and acquaintances who have been injured with a horse.  Some of these horses had been ridden for several years and in my opinion, they still just weren’t safe to ride.

I have never been hurt by a horse, and I’ve always rode horses that I really had no business being on.  I had never ridden at all when Bud and I got married.  We leased a ranch in Northern California for a while, and to make some extra money Bud would start colts for people, or he would buy an unbroke colt, then sell it when it got to going good.  I’ve never had any trouble with a colt that Bud had ridden for 3-days as long as I did what he told me to do.  In the heat of battle I remember telling him “You don’t care about me, you just don’t want me to spoil your darned old horse.”  Bud said “If you don’t spoil my darned old horse, you won’t get hurt!”  As much as I hated to admit it, he was right.