Starting colts is a raw, honest look at horsemanship that is rarely smooth and hardly easy.
I understand that starting colts is not appealing to everyone (and in using the term “colts” I mean fillies, too.) Truth be told, I don’t really think it’s something everyone should feel obligated or driven to do. It’s something that is oftentimes better outsourced to someone who specializes in starting horses specifically. Learning how to respond to a rider for the first few months is a fragile and special time for a young horse, and there is a lot of room for dangerous situations and issues to arise.
However, for those of you who are enchanted by that blank slate some refer to as “The Colt,” you are not alone. It seems we always have a passel of our own in the corral. Don’t get me wrong—I love a broke horse. I appreciate that strong, solid feeling when you swing your leg over the saddle and don’t think twice about the consequences of a rogue quail fleeing from the brush. A broke horse makes me look like a better roper and a more talented rider because its typically one step ahead of me and covers my imperfections.
But a colt is a raw, honest look at horsemanship. Each one starts out with genetic and situational predispositions that need to be honed and directed. Colts are ready to learn about the world and you are their guide. As the teacher (and especially on your first 100 or so that you start) you’re going to make a million mistakes along the way. But somehow, the colt still learns. It’s not always smooth and it’s hardly ever easy, but the reward comes in the education.
It’s pretty amazing how a horse is forever changed once it’s been saddled and ridden. It can never be the same. Some colts are a challenge every day through maturity, while others fill in for their riders from day one. Each one is a test of patience and skill. They can be molded, shaped and changed in a short amount of time through our timing, feel and personal style.
I don’t think colts are for every rider to own (and I wouldn’t suggest it either), but I’ve got to say, there’s a special place in my heart for young horses. I love to see their personalities and experiences shine through their education, and there isn’t much more of a reward than watching one we have started find success with its rider down the road.
Yep, I must admit, I enjoy all types of horses, but I have an affinity for those green colts. (And of course, the fillies, too!)