BREAKING HORSES BY SACKING OUT?
I see it at the RANCH here in Calgary many times by the
younger horse-breaking men - they "sack-out" the horse as part of
their ritual of breaking horses. They throw this or throw that -
a flag, a sack, or whatever; they slap the fender of the saddle
against the horse; they have it jumping this way and that way.
This is all done with NEW horses never having been ridden. They
keep doing this until the horse stands quietly, if it ever does.
If it does not they say it is useless or will be unpredictable as
a trail riding horse, and off to the meat factory it goes.
In my younger days, as a young man back in the 1960s, I
never broke horses this way. I was never taught to break horses
this way. I DO NOT BELIEVE IT IS THE RIGHT WAY TO BREAK HORSES.
Now, it seems I would be laughed at in the "new way" to
break horses by the younger set today.
To be sure there will be some horses, just because of their
nature, you will be able to "sack out" - throw anything at, and
they will take it all in stride. I say there will be SOME, but
that is not the average horse that has never been broken. And I'm
talking about the wild horse, hardly ever being around human
kind. It is another ball game when dealing with young horses that
have grown up around humans, but even then, I used to make them
riding horses without ever "sacking out" before I mounted up in
In my on-looking as I see most of this sacking out done with
the once wild horse, I see it as doing a pretty good job of
making those horses jump around like a cat on a hot tin roof.
What you are doing is teaching the horse to jump around at things
coming at it. So it does not surprise me when I hear that sacked
out horses are now on the trail and they have jumped at
something, unseating the rider, and then counted as useless.
Horses in the main tend to be always on the look out for anything
they think may attack them and eat them. To teach them to jump
around in "sacking out breaking" seems to me to defeat the
purpose you are wanting, that is NOT to jump around.
Yes, I know to the "modern" young horse breaker reading from
an old cowboy guy like me, about NOT doing sacking out as you
break horses, will seem like I'm from planet Pluto, as it is so
common a practice today.
Let me tell you this. All the guys you see going around the
country putting on horse breaking classes (and they get paid for
it remember) are working with anything but a wild horse. And if
one close to wild comes their way, and it is unresponsive to
them, they will turn around and tell people the horse is crazy
and should be shot or sent to the meat house. Such "class
teachers" remember are getting paid, many of them are doing it as
a full time job, they sure ain't wanting to get hurt or get
kicked, have a leg broken, or ribs broken; they would be out of
work! So you can bet they do not want any real wild horse to
demonstrate their "breaking horse class" programs.
What is important in horse breaking is that you want the
horse to HAVE CONFIDENCE in you, to respect you yes, but it needs
to be assured that you are its friend. In that process of
assurance you are teaching it that you are a friend and all you
are introducing it to is nothing to fear, as you are its friend
and so they can relax and know they are going to be just fine in
your presence. I cannot over-estimate the importance of hooking
up with the horse as a friend and leader.
It seems that most men horse breakers still think it is
"sissy" or "weak" or "too girlie emotional" to talk soft and be
gentle and soothing to the horse, as you train it to be a saddle
Well call me "weak" or "sissy" but that was exactly how I
broke wild horses in my late teens and 20s. The rational goes
like this: If you can be a friend to the horse, win its
confidence, see you as nobody to fear, then as you introduce each
stage of teaching it the saddle and bridal, by being slow and
with kind soothing words, it will already be quite relaxed around
your company. I found that introducing and finally getting up in
the saddle in a slow, relaxed, calm, and the least banging and
crashing going on, well .... I got results. As I look back now,
back to those years in my 20s doing it this way, I see where the
many horses I broke to trail ride, were by and large very well
adjusted horses. I had won their confidence, they felt a safety
around me, they felt safety under me, when I was on top in the
The Horse Stable I worked for was just on the edge of town.
in fact some of the trails you had to go down a street of a few
block; on one trail we had to cross a railway track; parts of where
we rode had a farm section with farming implements standing here
and there. The fact of where we were situated taught the horses
to get used to different sounds, different movements around them,
different sights that you will see on the edge of a 100 thousand
population town, as the population was back then.
Yes, I can remember breaking wild as well as domesticated
horses born and raised on the Ranch. I can truthfully say that
very very few ever gave us any serious troubles. I can remember
only a few that were new to the trails did a little buck, one
threw me off, no serious anything, a few bruises, and I just got
back up. The horse never did it again. But that was one horse in
dozens that did that. And many many green-horns rode that horse
in many trail rides. So it was with any of them. All the wild
horses we broke and the Ranch raised ones, I cannot remember one
of them giving us any problems. They were all good honest
dependable horses. AND NONE OF THEM HAD EVER BEEN SACKED OUT IN
THERE ENTIRE LIFE!!
That is as true a God is my witness. Be slow and friendly,
we built up the horses confidence and relaxation with us, I say
us, but is was mainly myself that did the breaking and training.
As they learned to have a relaxed confidence in me they were not
hard to be "sacked out" just during the course of riding around
part city and part country-side. They took a lot of things in
stride with me, we were pals, we had developed a safe connection.
They may have looked suspicious at some object or something
flapping in the breeze; I would stroke their neck, maybe a soft
pat on the neck, and say a few kind and smoothing words. It
worked, can't remember when it did not, they had enough
confidence in me as their friend to take it all in stride. Now,
sometimes you may need to get off, dis-mount and lead your horse
to the object or passed the object, showing it that it is
safe with you leading, and the object was not going to eat you or
Any of our horses we would not think twice about putting in
the down town's parade in its kick off for the week long "Pioneer
Days" that came in the middle of summer. We had in effect "sacked
them out" over a steady period of simply riding them around all
kinds of sights, sounds, smells etc.
Yes, all done with slow friendly movements, a little time to
stroke and talk sweet talk, a handful of oats to show them you
are really a great friends.
Even the best horses can "spook" at times. It is their
nature to be on guard, they like to live just as I hope you like
to live, it is their defense system kicking in when something odd
is happening in the bush or a deer jumps out from behind a tree
nearby. No amount of the modern "sacking out" in breaking, will
prevent a horse from spooking at times, that is the very nature
to preserve themselves in the wild. You as a rider must always
bear this in mind, and ride in the correct seating and legs
position so if your horse does spook, you will not come un-seated
and find yourself on the ground.
If you have never tried breaking horses the way I did it and the
way I suggest you do it, then give it a try, you may well be
surprised how nice it is for you and also the horse. You can find
step by step instructions under the studies called "Breaking
Horses" under this section of the Website.
To be contiuned