Host: Saltriver Horsemanship
Written by Heath Stewart – Owner, Saltriver Horsemanship and Topstock WA Feed Services.
Back through most of the 90’s and early 00’s, I broke in thousands of colts. These days we start them under saddle, and the method is very different, as is the result.
I was only doing the best I knew then, and I got it done, but they had a fair bit of bark off them and injuries were too common. I lost count of how many times I got bucked off in the first year and had some wild rides.
I’ll share a couple of them, just don’t try this at home!
One horse bolted through a fence while I was riding it first time out of the yard. I was on my own and couldn’t get her to flow. I thought bugger it and swung the gate. Halfway down the laneway she looked over her shoulder and I swear if she could talk she would have said “hang on cowboy”. She just floated, flat. I didn’t even try to pull her up I knew that in that moment she wouldn’t stop.
She hit the fence right next to the strainer and I put my hands on the pummel preparing to push myself clear if we did an end for ender. Luckily the wires came off the strainer and she stayed on her feet. Only thing was we were now in a 20,000 acre paddock. It took me three of four hours to get back but she ended up the best of the batch!
Another time I was helping some other people that I was staying with starting their colts and I wasn’t overly impressed in their methods. They told me to get on this horse that had absolutely no handle on it. As soon as I was on they swung the gate out of the round yard and away we went across the wet greasy blacksoil at great speed.
He had no mouth so I used my hat to fan him around (steer him) but eventually he started galloping down a fenceline. A fallen tree caused him to funnel into the fence, with the speed we were traveling on the greasy soil he had no chance of pulling up. He stopped the fence with his forehead and bounced back off it. In his surprise he suddenly had a mouth so I pointed him straight back to the yard, rode in there and got off, saying “he’s all yours”. I looked over my shoulder at him and he had a huge flap of skin off his forehead poor bugger.
When I look back at some of the crazy things I did two main points come to mind. One is that I had no regard for my safety and was pretty careless. Secondly I was pretty inconsiderate to the horses at times. At times they were confused or worried and I could have helped them out a lot more but I was in too much of a rush or at the time I didn’t consider the horse enough.
It was a great learning experience to those adventures, god knows how I survived, and I use them to make sure I do a better job for the sake of the horses, owners, and myself.