I have been working daily with Gem on picking up his feet, and making him realize that a saddle, does not mean for him to get worked to death or be in pain.
I can pick up 3 of the four feet on the cross ties, but for his right front, I unclip him and throw a lead rope over his neck (attached to the halter) just because I know that is his bad leg and I want him to continue to have a good experience while being in the aisle. But I can pick all 4 out, no problem.
And saddling him up? It's a breeze! I let him sniff it, and I rub it on him before I put it in place. And tightening the girth? Easy! He doesn't wiggly, pin his ears, NOTHING!
For about a week before I rode him again, I would just saddle him up and take a nice walk together.. so he'd know that all because he has a saddle on, doesn't mean anything's going to happen.
SO anyways, Wednesday and Friday of this week, I rode him for a bout 15 min or so. He will stand still for mounting after a while, but we're working on that. But he's been great. He has a BEAUTIFUL western headset. ( I saw our shadow) and he's just so responsive!
I even trotted him a little bit! His trot is so smooth now! And you don't need a lot of leg to make him go either. Just a kiss and off he goes! I only trotted him down the length of arena, as I didn't want to over do it, or push him.
I just can't get over it! Gem's a completely different horse! Though, it really makes me wonder what the heck they did to him, that he would like be afraid when you'd try and pick up his feet (i know he was in pain, but the look in his eye was more fearful than pain related IMO) But it does show you what proper care, time and patience can do for a horse.