I've been tying a saddle pad with a lead rope to my yearling for about a month now. She didn't even blink when I put it on her the first time, and we walk about .5 a mile with it about three times a week, sometimes longer distances but nothing strenuous. Not overdoing, not underdoing. She's really a joy to be around, and is one of the best horses I've ever known, even though she is young. She is incredibly smart, was fully halter trained at a week old (despite being my first filly, and my first time halter training), and could longe at a walk at a month old. We've been through creeks, over and through tarps, she will even stand blindfolded (long story how I found that out), etc.
I spoke to a friend who has raised WAY more foals than I have about the next step to take. She recommended taking a cheap, small backpack, and tie it on top of the saddlepad. No weight in it, just adding the sensation of another layer on top of the pad. At a year and a half, add a small bit of weight (maybe 3lbs) and then slowly increase until saddling.
Does this sound insane? A good plan? Anyone have a better idea?
I'm looking for a way to take her training up just one step. I've been mixing things up, changing them every week for a solid year, and even with what I've come up with she's beginning to get bored. I'm hoping to get a few new ideas and techniques to keep her engaged. Any other ideas you might come up with are welcome, as well.