A few days of this, and he may be driven in long reins in the longeing ground or a field, turning and stopping him now and again, allowing his head plenty of play, and not pulling at it too much, so that, in a short time he may have a good mouth. After using reins for a day or so, he may be driven by them about the roads, instead of leading him.
All this time, of course, the hind and fore legs of the colt have been handled and lifted, the hoofs taken backwards and forwards as the farrier manipulates them, and struck with the hand or a piece of wood; while the body may be rubbed over with a cloth or "duster."
The common practice of placing a colt in the stall, head about, and fastening him to the pillar-reins by the bit, is not to be recommended; it often teaches him to lean upon the bit and to "bore" on it, in uneasily moving his mouth from one side to the other.
At this time, if the colt is intended for draught, pieces of harness may be put on him, and an open collar placed on his neck to accustom him to the pressure of it. If he is for heavy farm work, then he ought to be accustomed to the rattling of chains behind him.
Reynolds, speaking of draught-colts, remarks that to those which have lived in open fields the confinement of a stable is at first irksome, and they should not be subjected thereto until they have commenced to do a certain amount of work. If the demand for team-work will allow of delay far enough into the spring, it is better for the newly-broken colt, when his work is completed, to be pastured at night with his companions in labour; the daily meals to be partaken in the stable with his associates, will gradually and pleasurably accustom him to the change. It is an almost universal custom on light-land farms to work a colt when two years old, and at three years old off he generally constitutes one of an ordinary team. On stronger soils, the commencement of labour is sometimes postponed for six or twelve months longer. When put to work for the first time, no coercion should be employed to make the colt draw; yoked with a team of steady old horses, and led for a short time, he will soon take to the collar voluntarily.
It must be noted, when treating of breaking and training, that the stable management of the colt is not to be overlooked. Gentle treatment, combined with firmness, is as essential in as out of doors, and the teasing and teaching of tricks so often practised by stablemen and boys should be rigidly prohibited. Secure fastening up of the colt in the stable is another point which should receive due attention, the halter and its attachments being sufficiently strong and secure to prevent breaking loose.
If put beside other horses, care should be taken that these are quiet and will not tease; also that they have no bad habits - such as crib-biting, weaving, biting, kicking in the stable, etc., which are so often imitative.
The trainer, or attendant, has to remember that to overwork a young colt, either in training or when commencing to work it, is unwise, as in addition to the danger of weakening him, much fatigue often makes him apathetic, lazy, or even vicious. The work should always be in proportion to his strength.
When animals do much work on roads - especially if these are very hard and stony - their hoofs become broken and worn; these, therefore, require protection by iron shoes, and the services of the farrier are needed to apply the latter. The shoeing of a colt for the first time is an important matter. It is assumed that the legs and feet have been handled according to the directions already given; therefore, when it is decided that the colt is to be shod, the day and hour should be fixed when he is to be sent to the forge, as he very often becomes tired and restless if he has to await his turn there.
If the animal is very fresh and spirited, it may be advisable to have him exercised or longed before he is sent, or if he is nervous and excitable it may even be necessary to make him very tired.
Upon the manner in which he is shod for the first and second times, will often greatly depend his quietness during this operation in the future. The noises, sights, and smells of the shoeing forge are novel and startling, and timid, restless colts are very often much disturbed on their appearance there for the first shoeing. If it can be done, it is a good plan to allow the colt to pay one or two visits to the forge before the operation is required. Sometimes, indeed, the farrier has either to visit the colt or the latter to visit him, in order to have the hoofs shortened or straightened; and this is a good preliminary training.
During shoeing the colt should not be tied up, but his usual attendant ought to hold him by the head, talk to and stroke him, and allay his fears; the farrier meantime going about his performance quietly, gently, and without unnecessary pulling or force. The fore-feet should be shod first, as they generally demand shoeing most, and are generally more easily done; the hind feet require more time, and are usually most troublesome for the farrier. Therefore, if the colt is very combative, which he may be through fear, obstinacy, or being tired of the operation, it may be better to leave the hind ones for another day's rehearsal.
If the colt is to be trained for riding, he has to become accustomed to the saddle. This article should be shown him, and he ought to be allowed to smell and feel it with his nose. Allowing him to look at and touch everything with his nose, is a good way to accustom him to it. There should be no stirrups to the saddle, and it must be put slowly and gently on his back - moving it from the withers to the croup and forward again, until he does not object to it. Then it may be girthed very slack, or secured around the body with a surcingle, which the colt is already accustomed to. After a short time it may be fastened on more tightly, and a crupper may be added as before, together with a breastplate. All this takes time with nervous colts, but it is not lost time; for the animals are having explained to them, or at least the attempt is being made to make them understand, a most essential part of their duty.