Horses can live a very long time, that is why they are such a huge committment. They are also not the kind of animal that can just thrive out in a pasture with no buddies, or no human contact. They are very social animals herd-bound some of them, and since Racer's buddy had to be sold awhile back, I am his only contact and I try to maintain that bond with him. He was really ill when he was 2 years old, I mean really ill. I finally had to yank he out from under the vet who had mis-diagnosed him and put him into OSU Vet school. 2 weeks, and $2,500 later, he was better, but not well. During the long period of recovery, he and I bonded unbelievably and it is something I had or have never experienced before. It is a life-changing moment. So he and I are connected. He will hopefully live into his 30's and he will always be with me no matter what. I have had several people express high interest and offer me a lot of money to sell him, but that will never happen. I have had him since he was 3 months old, and we have been training together with no outside assistance since that day.
How you train a horse depends on what discipline you want them to do.If you want them just as a trail horse, then you train them to lead, back, go over obstacles, go through water, side pass (which is move from side to side) neck rein, handle a saddle, gosh so many ways to train. I have been bomb-proofing racer from the beginning. Which is just a term to introducing horses to various foreign objects in the hopes that when a rabbit, or squirrel or balloon or plastic bag rushes by them, they don't decide to buck and run. I can halter racer while he is in the pasture, without chasing him until both of us drop. He will follow me freely without a halter wherever I go if I ask him, he stands quiet to be worked on by the vet or farrier, I can drape him in a tarp, blindfold him, wave plastic bags in his face, run a chainsaw near him, do all kinds of crazy things and he stands his ground. His first trail ride was last year and their were 8 horses in the line, he was second in the line at the time the leader decided to go off the path and blaze a new trail. The head horse stepped on a grounded yellow jacket nest! They swarmed, people screamed, horses freaked, some bolted, others reared, people got thrown, and Racer calmly walked with me up still on his back to the top of the hill, where I dismounted to find 3 jackets on his tail and 2 near his rump! Larry the head cowboy, been around horses his entire life was extremely impressed with Racer's calmness and since then has helped me to further racer's training. Racer now drives (pulls a cart) thanks to Larry's instruction. So there are all kinds of ways to train a horse, and I train with firmness and kindness, but if he does something that puts me in danger, I get after him for only 3 seconds with the whiffle bat. It makes a lot of noise, but it does not hurt him. And it just establishes to him that even though he is bigger and he could hurt me, I have the upper hand and he needs to respect me. I do this for my safety as I have been hurt by my other horse before and they can literally kill you in a minute without meaning to, so you just have to always be prepared. One moment, my mind slipped and I got injured severely. It takes a lifetime to train a horse, because you are learning along with him, but to prepare a horse for just a saddle and rider is hard to gauge, because Race is my first horse, and I am no expert. Though other seasoned horse owners are now asking me questions! LOL
I am so green, I don't think I know what cold-backed is, but I will take a stab at what I think it means. I believe it means that taking a horse cold out of a stall and not allowing him to limber up and exercise, and just throwing a saddle on him and jumping on, can cause problems in the end for the horse as well as the rider. After all, all atheletes do warm-ups before they do anything strenuous, and you have to allow the same consideration for the horse.
Gosh I really can talk about Racer, he is my pride and joy, can you tell?
As I said before, we are still learning together, and he has been my greatest teacher.