Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Argo's Training?

I have found a surprising misconception among people when it comes to Mustangs. People have asked me why I have not touched him yet. Why have I not asserted myself as the alpha? Why have I not done round pen training with him because he is in a round pen, was that not the purpose for him to be in one? Why don’t I just work him like I would any other horse?

Though I have limited experience with Mustangs that have been gathered and hence very little human contact, I feel I have had a basic understanding as to how one would approach such a horse and begin the gentling process. Argo is not the typical Mustang. Generally, the BLM adopts young mustangs under the age of 5. They have adopted out older ones, but the norm is the younger ones. There is a reason for this. They are easier to gentle.

Argo is not the typical Mustang.

First he is a Kiger, in my limited experience that alone sets him apart from other mustangs from different regions and HMA’s in the West.

Second is his age. He was gathered at the age of 17. I am not even going to pretend to imagine or know what his experiences have been. His age alone will be my biggest hurdle, asking him to trust me, when all of his instincts are telling him not to.

Third, would be the stallion mind, which also can be a roadblock to some degree, but also most likely, my way in to his mind. Stallions by nature are lazy. I should correct that and say the mares are the ones to be the first line of defense when it comes to possible predators. They are the alarm system. When they feel threatened by a predator they will alert the herd to any danger. You see this in most animals in the wild. Take lions for example. The lioness does the hunting while the lion lies back under a tree and naps. He only shows true aggression when his pack is under attack or another male comes around to maybe challenge him. Stallions pretty much share the same philosophy. “Call me when you really need me, but it better be important!”

It has totally baffled me as to how everybody has an opinion as to how I should “train” Argo. I try to handle their opinions with respect, but it is beginning to become very frustrating to say the least to explain my take on how Argo should be gentled. The ones giving the opinions have either no experience with Mustangs or their experience has been with them after they have already been gentled. Their experience has been in domestic horses. They have stated though that they will “Show me how it’s done!” Or I have been told that I must be “afraid of Argo and that’s what is holding us back.”

Let me be the one to say I am not “afraid” of Argo. Argo and I have found a working distance relationship that he is comfortable with. He is learning to trust me. In his mind I am the predator, my duty to him is to show him through respect that I am not that predator. This is part of the gentling process. He is not like a 2 year old colt who has never had a line drawn in the sand and is pushy and belligerent, and needs to have a good “whooping.” Argo is very respectful, never has he shown me his hind end, because in his world, you never turn your back on a predator. Argo watches everything I do with curiosity, learning while he is watching me, learning to trust me, learning that I am not the conqueror, but a possible friend.


fantasykiger said...

I am so glad that you were not swayed to rush Argo into exceptance of being so called 'manhandled'. Another reason you are a perfect owner for him. I think you will be greatly rewarded for your patience.
I just watched 'Wild Kingdom' where that guy gentled wild water buffalo. It took him 2 monthes to be excepted by a lead cow in order to control the herd, she in turn would protect him. It was awww inspiring to watch. While Argo is no cow..LOL, curiousity will get the better of him and he will soon learn a threat you are not.

Eric Clayton said...

Don't listen to anyone but yourself and do what you feel is right to train your horse. While hints can be helpful, every horse is different and Mustangs are especially different than domestic. The most inexperienced horse folks always know how you should handle YOUR horse. :) Argo is beautiful. I look forward to reading and following your adventures! :)

Cheryl said...

Good for you! We aren't in any hurry with our two little fillies either. It took almost 9 months before Scout, our alpha, would even ALLOW us to touch her! She had no reason to trust humans. Cali, on the other hand, was a "pocket pony" from the first day she arrived. Every mustang is different. Now we can't get either one away from us! We adore them both.