This Month’s Expert Bozo Rogers
Bozo Rogers trains versatility horses and reined cow horses at Wes and Sarah Williams’ Dove Creek Ranch in Rhome, Texas. The horseman has had plenty of recent success in the show pen, winning the American Quarter Horse Association Ranching Heritage 5- and 6-year-old open class in Abilene, Texas, in November on Circle Bar Cutthepay.
Rogers has shown WM Blasted Smart to numerous titles, including the 2013 AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse open reserve world championship and the high-point horse at the 2014 Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo’s Ranching Heritage Weekend.
Q: I have two horses, a 5-year-old gelding and a 7-year-old mare, and it would be helpful if I could bring them both on rides with me or exercise them at the same time. How do I get started teaching my horses to pony, both the horse that I’m riding and the one I’m leading?
A: Before you start to lead or pony anything, the first step would be to drag a rope behind your horse on both sides so that the horse gets comfortable with a rope rubbing all up and down his or her legs and butt. Once that is going good, I would go to a small pen—either round or square, it doesn’t matter—and put the horse you are riding next to the fence and the horse you are leading in the center, and start going around and around in a clockwise direction. This prevents the horse that is being led from getting around or behind you, and keeps the horse you are riding from whirling away and possibly getting the lead rope under his or her tail.
I normally have my saddle horn wrapped with rubber and take a counterclockwise wrap or dally of the lead rope around the horn to prevent the horse being led from pulling back and jerking the lead out of my hand. Be sure to hold the lead with your thumb up to prevent fingers from being injured if the horse sets back.
It will take several sessions to get your horses accustomed to this routine.
Q: I have a 4-year-old Quarter Horse that I’ve been working with in the round pen. She’s made tremendous improvement, and I’d like to start riding her in the arena and out on the trail with friends. However, whenever I leave the confines of the round pen, she becomes agitated and won’t settle down. How do I make a smooth transition from the round pen?
A: I normally do not keep a horse in the round pen for very many rides. I saddle him, drive him a couple of days, and then ride him two or three times in the round pen. My next step is to have someone on a good broke horse go to the pasture with me, or to the arena if I do not have a pasture to ride in. On this ride I do not try to pick at my horse, I just want him to move out quietly and adjust to a more open area.
With your horse, I would probably saddle her up in the round pen, drive her or lunge her for 10 to 15 minutes, and then ride her in the pen for a while. Then I would tie her up in there while I took a break. I would repeat this process until I was sure she was tired. Not “hot,” but tired. At this point I would have someone on a good broke, gentle horse go with me to the arena or pasture for a slow ride as a cool-out or reward for your mare. It is mainly a mind game. Make what they want difficult and what you want the easy part, or the reward. The more pasture or trail time a horse gets, the better he or she normally behaves.
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