The Art of Taming and Training Wild Horses
The Art of Taming and Training Wild Horses – Powell’s System of Approaching the Colt. But, before we go further, I will give you Willis J. Powel’s system of approaching a wild colt, as given by him in a work published in Europe, about the year 1811, on the “Art of taming wild horses.” He says, “A horse is gentled by my secret, in from two to sixteen hours.”
The time I have most commonly employed has been from four to six hours. He goes on to say: “Cause your horse to be put in a small yard, stable, or room.
If in a stable or room, it ought to be large in order to give him some exercise with the halter before you lead him out. If the horse belongs to that class which appears only to fear man, you must introduce yourself gently into the stable, room, or yard, where the horse is.
He will naturally run from you, and frequently turn his head from you; but you must walk about extremely slow and softly, so that he can see you whenever he turns his head towards you, which he never fails to do in a short time, say in a quarter of an hour. I never knew one to be much longer without turning towards me.
“At the very moment he turns his head, hold out your left hand towards him, and stand perfectly still, keeping your eyes upon the horse, watching his motions if he makes any. If the horse does not stir for ten or fifteen minutes, advance as slowly as possible, and without making the least noise, always holding out your left hand, without any other ingredient in it than that what nature put in it.
” He says, “I have made use of certain, ingredients before people, such as the sweat under my arm, etc., to disguise the real secret, and many believed that the docility to which the horse arrived in so short a time, was owing to these ingredients; but you see from this explanation that they were of no use whatever.
The implicit faith placed in these ingredients, though innocent of themselves, becomes ‘faith without works.’ And thus, men remained always in doubt concerning this secret. If the horse makes the least motion when you advance toward him, stop, and remain perfectly still until he is quiet.
Remain a few moments in this condition, and then advance again in the same slow and imperceptible manner. Take notice: if the horse stirs, stop without changing your position. It is very uncommon for the horse to stir more than once after you begin to advance, yet there are exceptions. He generally keeps his eyes steadfast on you, until you get near enough to touch him on the forehead.
When you are thus near to him, raise slowly, and by degrees, your hand, and let it come in contact with that part just above the nostrils as lightly as possible. If the horse flinches, (as many will,) repeat with great rapidity these light strokes upon the forehead, going a little further up towards his ears by degrees, and descending with the same rapidity until he will let you handle his forehead all over.
Now let the strokes be repeated with more force over all his forehead, descending by lighter strokes to each side of his head, until you can handle that part with equal facility.
Then touch in the same light manner, making your hands and fingers play around the lower part of the horse’s ears, coming down now and then to his forehead, which may be looked upon as the helm that governs all the rest.
“Having succeeded in handling his ears, advance towards the neck, with the same precautions, and in the same manner; observing always to augment the force of the strokes whenever the horse will permit it. Perform the same on both sides of the neck, until he lets you take it in your arms without flinching.
“Proceed in the same progressive manner to the sides, and then to the back of the horse. Every time the horse shows any nervousness return immediately to the forehead as the true standard, patting him with your hands, and from thence rapidly to where you had already arrived, always gaining ground a considerable distance farther on every time this happens. The head, ears, neck and body being thus gentled, proceed from the back to the root of the tail.
“This must be managed with dexterity, as a horse is never to be dependent that is skittish about the tail. Let your hand fall lightly and rapidly on that part next to the body for a minute or two, and then you will begin to give it a slight pull upwards every quarter of a minute.
At the same time, you continue this handling of him, augment the force of the strokes, as well as the raising of the tail, until you can raise it and handle it with the greatest ease, which commonly happens in a quarter of an hour in most horses; in others almost immediately, and in some much longer.
It now remains to handle all his legs. From the tail come back again to the head, handle it well, as likewise the ears, breast, neck, etc., speaking now and then to the horse. Begin by degrees to descend to the legs, always ascending and descending, gaining ground every time you descend until you get to his feet.
“Talk to the horse in Latin, Greek, French, English, or Spanish, or in any other language you please; but let him hear the sound of your voice, which at the beginning of the operation is not quite so necessary, but which I have always done in making him lift up his feet.
Hold up your foot–‘Live la pied’–‘Alza el pie’–‘Aron ton poda,’ etc., at the same time lift his foot with your hand. He soon becomes familiar with the sounds, and will hold his foot up at command. Then proceed to the hind feet and go on in the same manner, and in a short time the horse will let you lift them and even take them up in your arms.
“All this operation is no magnetism, no galvanism; it is merely taking away the fear a horse generally has of a man, and familiarizing the animal with his master; as the horse doubtless experiences a certain pleasure from this handling, he will soon become gentle under it, and show a very marked attachment to his keeper.”
Remarks on Powell’s Treatment How to Govern Horses of Any Kind.
These instructions are very good, but not quite sufficient for horses of all kinds, and for haltering and leading the colt; but I have inserted it here, because it gives some of the true philosophy of approaching the horse, and of establishing confidence between man and horse. He speaks only of the kind that fear man.
To those who understand the philosophy of horsemanship, these are the easiest trained; for when we have a horse that is wild and lively, we can train him to our will in a very short time; for they are generally quick to learn, and always ready to obey.
But there is another kind that are of a stubborn or vicious disposition, and, although they are not wild, and do not require taming, in the sense it is generally understood, they are just as ignorant as a wild horse, if not more so, and need to be learned just as much; and in order to have them obey quickly, it is very necessary that they should be made to fear their masters; for, in order to obtain perfect obedience from any horse, we must first have him fear us, for our motto is _fear, love, and obey_; and we must have the fulfilment of the first two before we can expect the latter, and it is by our philosophy of creating fear, love and confidence, that we govern to our will every kind of a horse whatever.
Then, in order to take horses as we find them, or all kinds, and to train them to our likings, we will always take with us, when we go into a stable to train a colt, a long switch whip, (whale-one buggy whips is the best,) with a good silk cracker, so as to cut keen and make a sharp report, which, if handled with dexterity, and rightly applied, accompanied with a sharp, fierce word, will be sufficient to enliven the spirits of any horse. With this whip in your right hand, with the lash pointing backward, enter the stable alone.
It is a great disadvantage in training a horse, to have anyone in the stable with you; you should be entirely alone, so as not to have nothing but yourself to attract his attention. If he is wild, you will soon see him on the opposite side of the stable from you; and now is the time to use a little judgement.
I would not want for myself more than half or three-quarters of an hour to handle any kind of a colt, and have him running about in the stable after me; though I would advise a new beginner to take more time, and not to be in too much of a hurry.
If you have but one colt too gentle, and are not particular about the length of time you spend, and have not had any experience in handling colts, I would advise you to take Mr. Powel’s method at first, till you gentle him, which he says it takes from two to six hours.
But as I want to accomplish the same, and what is much more, learn the horse to lead in less than one hour, I shall give you a much quicker process of accomplishing the same end.
Accordingly, when you have entered the stable, stand still and let your horse looks at you a minute or two, and as soon as he is settled in one place, approach him slowly, with both arms stationary, your right hanging by your side, holding the whip as directed, and the left bent at the elbow, with your hand projecting.
As you approach him, go not too much towards his head or Croop, so as not to make him move either forward or backward, thus keeping your horse stationary, if he does move a little forward or backward, step a little to the right or left very cautiously; this will keep him in one place, as you get very near him, draw a little to his shoulder, and stop a few seconds.
If you are in his reach, he will turn his head and smell at your hand, not that he has any preference for your hand, but because that it is projecting, and is the nearest portion of your body to the horse.
This all colts will do, and they will smell of your naked hand just as quick as they will of anything that you can put in it, and with just as good an effect, however much some men have preached the doctrine of taming horses by giving them the scent articles from the hand. I have already proved that to be a mistake.
As soon as he touches his nose to your hand, caress him as before directed, always using a very light, soft hand, merely touching the horse, all ways rubbing the way the hair lays, so that your hand will pass along as smoothly as possible. As you stand by his side you may find it more convenient to rub his neck or the side of his head, which will answer the same purpose as rubbing his forehead.
Favor every inclination of the horse to smell or touch you with his nose. Always follow each touch or communication of this kind with the most tender and affectionate caresses, accompanied with a kind look, and pleasant word of some sort, such as: Ho! my little boy, ho! my little boy, pretty boy, nice lady! or something of that kind, constantly repeating the same words, with the same kind, steady tone of voice; for the horse soon learns to read the expression of the face and voice, and will know as well when fear, love or anger, prevails as you know your own feelings; two of which, _fear and anger_, a good horseman _should never feel_.
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