Colt-Starting 101

“Thoughts from an Equine Expo”

Jay’s friend Bronwen Fry shares her thoughts from the Pacific Agriculture Show Equine Expo in Abbotsford, BC

Here we are at the 8th Annual Pacific Agriculture Show Equine Expo at the Tradex Centre in Abbotsford, BC. Jay’s about to begin a three hour colt-starting demonstration in the round pen comprised of two 90-minute sessions. The rubber footing is a little tricky for the lofty three-year-old Selle Francais filly. She’s is trotting inside the pen’s parameter – high-headed and wide-eyed. It’s her first time away from home and her first real training session. She’s busy looking out at the surrounding spectators, tractors and booths. Welcoming bleats come from a lamb at the nearby petting zoo, followed by an empathetic snort from the pot-bellied pig.

Jay’s getting himself organized and letting her take it all in. We were a little anxious earlier this year when Jay took a fall on the ice at home at Stoddart Creek Stables. He strained the rotator cuff of his right shoulder. This has limited the movement of his right arm. With Jay’s wife Caroline expanding their operation into SW Calgary, training the babies Cocoa and Cisco (who are coming along beautifully) and working on Jay O’Jay Horsemanship, we weren’t sure if Jay would find the time to properly rest and recoup. He’s looking great today though. I know he’s been anxious to get back into the ring.

The filly is still snorting and looking around but Jay soon has her more settled and focused on the task at hand. Moving her forward around the ring, she slowly starts to lower her head and lick her lips. Jay is soon able to rub her down with his lariat, whip, flag and saddle blanket. He teaches her to lead, back up, stay respectfully out of his personal space (unless invited in), and control her feet. Crucial groundwork for any riding discipline is molding this young horse’s mind. And so ends Session One.

I never get tired of watching Jay work with horses. He is a sculpture. If you’ve ever watched glassblowing, I liken Jay’s skill to that of a master glassblower. Watching the artist spin the blow pipe round and round can be mesmerizing. The glass takes on a mind its own. Then it flowers – seemingly effortlessly – into the shape of a bowl or vase with just subtle manipulations and a quiet pressure. Catching the parallels here? I’ll move on then…

Jay’s arm seems to be holding up well but he’s decides to bring in a helper for Session Two. Jay’s friend Brook Hanson has helped him start many young horses. She assists Jay today and they demonstrate the safety benefits of having a second person on the ground – something Jay strongly believes and preaches at home.

Jay takes the time to first recap what he covered in the first session. The filly’s tail is relaxed and she’s still mouthing. Jay introduces the saddle next and the filly humps a little when Jay sends her around the roundpen solo. She soon gets used to the feel of the cinch and turns to nibble on the stirrups. Jay demonstrates to the crowd how to teach your horse to sidepass up to the fence, and, with Brook’s help, be mounted and walked around the pen. He leaves the session on a good note, with some last thoughts. It takes a lifetime to become a great horseperson, no matter what discipline you do, (I’m told it theoretically takes 25 years to become a master glass blower). And so, as Jay is fond of saying, “Success With Horses Starts With Us!”

Thanks to everyone who came out to see Jay and support him at this event. There was a great turnout. We love it when you stop in to say hello at our booth and tell us about your own horses.

Here’s to an exciting 2006 season and happy trails!

Be Sociable, Share!
No comments yet.

Leave a Reply