Jason Julian shows us how he starts Billings, a two-year-old stud colt, in harness. Groundwork, collaring and harnessing and driving with a breaking mare. By the third day, Billings is performing meaningful work on the farm.
Year 1 to 2 Jason emphasizes his work with the colt even before thinking about harnessing. He keeps his colts at home, leading them to water 2-3 times a day. In doing this, he teaches the colt: Catching the colt Backing the colt Language, especially whoa and back. Use the same language you will use when his is harnessed as a team. By the time he is harnessed, he will already know this.
The #1 key to training - CONSISTENCY, CONSISTENCY, CONSISTENCY It addition, Jason is continually talking or singing to the horse. His constant quiet voice is obviously calming and reassuring to Billings.
DAY 1 - TEACHING LEAD ROPE/HALTER MANNERS Jason drags the lead line all over the horse to find sensitive spots and desensitize the horse. Emphasize all the places the harness will contact as well as the hooves that may get tangled in a line and need to be manipulated by a farrier.
FIRST COLLAR Jason presents the collar to the horse. allowing him to smell it, see it, lick it, etc. until he is not afraid of it. He continues showing it to him while holding it up to his face. Gradually he puts it over his head. Once in place, he leaves the horse to get used to having the collar on. He then does completes the same process with the harness - all while still tied to the stall.
DAY 2 - BILLINGS FIRST BIT AND DRIVE Jason repeats the collar and harness process as in day 1. He then gently hooks up the bit. Again, all while hooked up in the stall.
He then takes him out and hooks him up with a experienced mare. He uses a forecart and sled for their first drive. His wife Katrina has a line on the colt and walks along side for this first few drives - until it seems unnecessary. Jason and his team take two drives on Day 2.
DAY 3 - COLLAR, HARNESS & BRIDLE Jason repeat all the steps from Days 1 & 2. During the fourth drive, he stops and exchanges the forecart and sled for the manure spreader. Billings is a quick learner and they continue with this new implement, new sounds, new feel. He is a natural - both trainer and colt!
Jason and Katrina discuss the importance of having two horse trainers working the first drives with a colt. So many things can come up that require quick thinking and that second trainer on the ground to help. These two show how colt training can be simple but not easy. They emphasize that REPETITION is key to building the horses muscle, strength, confidence and security. And patience is so very important to the trainer. All horses learn at their own pace, as do children. The horse trainer needs to be cognizant and respectful of that pace.
** Jason is not only training the colt to drive but vetting him to see if he will be a good addition to his breeding program. He evaluates the horse for intelligence, quick learning and drive before even thinking about breeding his mares with him.