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.

Here we have Calypso, she’s pushing 5 years old.  She swings her head back and forth when asked to trot, this is promptly followed by bucking.  Forget about loping!  If she was lounging and you could push her into a lope, she would take off like a shot!  If she didn’t rip the lounge line out of your hand, then you were spinning round and round as she ran as fast as she could around you!  I have my theories about what caused that as well, but let’s just move along forward.

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 your patience.  She was still standing there eagerly waiting my decision, so I agreed to let her have a try.

We made some ground rules:  She must listen and implement what I say to her.  She is not to ride unless I am there.  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 🙂 ). 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 one day.

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 – Reminded Calypso to come when she is called in the pasture.  A handful of carrots and encourage her with them to come to us.  She was not leading well. She actually reared up a couple of times when she didn’t want to go a certain way.  Walking her all over the property with a lead line was the first step.
  • 2nd week – Continued with the walk nicely lesson.  Calypso would step on the back of my daughters foot as soon as she looked forward.  She had to keep dodging the horses front hooves.  I showed her to elbow Calypso out, away from her then she couldn’t step on her heels.
  • 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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