Breaking The Buck Out Of Calypso

Breaking The Buck Out Of Calypso

We’ve had our hands full for the last year and one of the big events was breaking the buck out of Calypso!

Calypso is an affectionate, personable and willing horse.  For a horse some of these traits can be a downfall when training comes into play.  Horses shouldn’t be taught to show their affection with bodily contact with humans. It’s just dangerous.  1,000 lbs vs 150 lbs is not a good match!  It can also gain sympathy from the rider. Discouraging the rider to ask the horse to do something it doesn’t feel like doing.

Calypso had a bit of both inappropriate affection and sympathetic riders.  On top of that I had 3 other horses, children, a home and a career to tend to.  Calypso was left to the kids.  I would explain what they needed to work on with her and they were supposed to implement it, but it didn’t exactly work out that way.

So, Calypso developed a habit of bucking when she didn’t want to do something.  I’m not sure, but I can put a pretty good guess on it that when she bucked, they got off and put her away, never mentioning it to me.  But that’s just my guess.

Along with the bucking she would invade the handlers space.  Kicking your foot as you are leading her somewhere, bumping your shoulder as you’re leading her, standing ON you when your trying to groom her!

Here we have Calypso, she’s pushing 5 years old.  Once you’ve brought her out of her paddock, lead her (while kicking your heels with her hoof) to the hitching station, saddle her and make your way to the arena, you had to contend with her lack of desire to exercise.

She swings her head back and forth when asked to trot, this is promptly followed by bucking.  Forget about loping!  If we are lounging her and you are able to push her into a lope, she takes off like a shot!  If she doesn’t rip the lounge line out of your hand, then you are spinning round and round as she runs as fast as she can around you!  I have my theories about what caused all this as well, but it is what it is, so let’s get this wagon train rolling in the right direction!

I can’t ride anymore myself. If I hit the saddle the wrong way it could be my last ride, walk and anything else requiring bi-pedal work. I had seriously considered selling my last two horses.  But my youngest daughter has shown an interest in Calypso.  She really wanted to take on the task of straightening this horse out.  I warned her, “It’s going to take a LOT of your time and ALL of our patience. Once you start, and I’m helping you, I don’t want to hear that your tired or you give up. If you’re going to do this, then we’re gonna get it done, OK?’  To my surprise, she was still standing there eagerly waiting my decision, so I agreed to let her.

We made some ground rules:

  1. 1st and foremost! She must listen and implement what I say to her.
  2. She is not to ride unless I am there.
  3. If she becomes frustrated she is to hand the horse over to me and I’ll put her away (I might throw in some reining or side passing practice from the ground on the way back to pasture 🙂 ).
  4. Last, but, of course, not least, she must work with the horse everyday unless she has a very, very, very good excuse why she can’t.

Okay, we have an agreement, we have a horse, and training (rather re-training) began.

For the first several weeks, Calypso would not be ridden at all.  I explained we are taking her back to square one.  I said pretend she’s only halter broke.  You have to teach her everything, the correct way.

  • 1st week – We practiced having Calypso come to us when she is called by collecting her from the farthest gate from her (So she would have to come a good distance to get to us).  Calypso being the horse that thinks she’s a human has.always come when she is called very enthusiastically.  But we are starting from square one, and that would be included in square one.
  • Calypso was not leading well after we haltered her and lead her. She was unsure, walked “wiggly” like she wasn’t sure where she was going.  Then she would stop and need encouraging to continue walking. She actually reared up a couple of times when she didn’t want to go a certain way.  Myself or Michelle began leading her around everyday, sometimes twice a day, just walking around, stopping, walking again, standing, staying off of feet, not kicking heels, just walk, walk, and walk some more.
  • 2nd week – Continued with the walk nicely lesson.  Calypso was still stepping or kicking the back of my daughters foot as soon as she looked forward.  She had to keep dodging the horses front hooves.  I showed her how to position her elbow so Calypso would be punishing herself if she tried to kick her foot, she’d have an elbow in her neck. Do not ever believe that a horse doesn’t know where their hoof is. They know EXACTLY where it is all the time!  Have you ever sat and watched horses IE: mares, with their foals?  Those mares never step on their baby. The foal lays out on the grass with all those mares around them and not one hoof steps on them. They know exactly where their hooves are.
  • 3rd week – Continued walking her on the property and in the arena, on a lead line, to practice leading nicely, respect our space as the human and go where I want you to go without hesitation.
  • 4th week – Started lounging without a line.  Just asking her to walk around the arena and trot as well.  That was pretty crazy.  Calypso has a lot of energy she doesn’t know what to do with, but I do!
  • 5th week – After walking nicely to the arena and into the center, worked on backing up and turning her head with a slight pull on the lead.  Then let her out to lounge and when she started running around bazooko I had her push her and keep her loping, stepping in with her shoulder first to tell Calypso to turn and run the other way.  When Calypso started licking and then lower her head the pressure was stopped and just a walk and trot was resumed.

I’ll cut it short for today.  I’ll be back tomorrow to resume with week 6.  Goodnight!

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