Where to Start with Your Horse: Two Common Questions Answered
Q: I have a yearling that I want to teach the Method to. Should I get the Foal Training Series or the Fundamentals Series?
A: For yearlings and onwards, we recommend the Fundamentals Series. For horses younger than a year old, we recommend using the Foal Training Series because it goes into great detail on how to imprint a foal, teach him basic leading lessons and how to start the Fundamentals exercises. Although the Fundamentals exercises are taught to the foal, they are modified for young horses. One of the biggest differences to training a foal compared to an older horse is the use of steady pressure rather than driving pressure. Whenever you cue your horse to do something, you use either steady pressure or driving pressure. Steady pressure is just that, a steady, consistent pressure. Driving pressure has a beat or rhythm to it—“one, two, three, four.”
Clinton prefers to teach foals to move off steady pressure first because it’s less intimidating to them. It’s easy to scare a foal or become overbearing with driving pressure. However, if you’re working with a yearling or older horse, chances are you won’t be able to make him feel uncomfortable enough with steady pressure to look for the right answer. This is especially true if the horse has been taught to ignore humans and is lazy and heavy.
If you’re working with a yearling, it’s best to start with the Fundamentals because most of the exercises in the Foal Training Series won’t apply to your horse, especially if he’s already been taught to halter and lead. He’ll be mature enough by that stage that you’ll be able to use driving pressure when teaching him the exercises.
But again, if you’re using the Foal Training Series, it’s highly recommended to also have the Fundamentals Series to refer to.
Q: I want to break my colt to ride using the Method, should I get the Colt Starting Series or the Fundamentals?
A: You’ll need the Colt Starting Series. In the series, Clinton explains stepby- step how to establish first touch with a wild horse through the horse’s 14th ride, including taking the young horse on the trail for the first time. In the Fundamentals Series, Clinton does not explain how to introduce the saddle to the horse, prepare the horse for feeling a rider’s weight, how to bridle a horse, etc.; the series assumes the horse is broke to ride. The Colt Starting Series goes into great detail about all of those topics and much more, like how to transition the colt from the hackamore to the snaffle bit, handling feet, bathing and ponying the colt. While the Colt Starting Series will give you a comprehensive lesson plan to follow to safely start your colt, and even includes review sessions to ensure you’re on the right track, it is highly recommended that you are competent at the Fundamentals. In fact, we recommend you have the kit to refer to as you work with your young horse. The best success tip Clinton says he can give to horsemen starting colts is to be proficient at the Fundamentals level of the Method. “The first six weeks of a colt’s life under saddle are the most important in his career. It’s vital that his training runs smoothly so that he doesn’t develop any bad habits,” Clinton says. “For that to happen, you must be a confident, knowledgeable and trustworthy leader for him, which are all skills you learn from the Fundamentals level of the Method.”