Bad Behaviour with saddle? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 02-26-2011, 10:05 AM Thread Starter
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Bad Behaviour with saddle?

Sorry if this is in the wrong forum.

My horse HATES when I put on his saddle he tries to bite and he shows the whites of his eyes and pins his ears. I quickly put on his saddle get his girth ready and have a crop. When I do up his girth he bites so I get a barn bud to smack him {not hard or anything, just to show him who is boss} or talk to him very sternly. Is what I am doing right? If he is good I reward him.

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post #2 of 10 Old 02-26-2011, 10:07 AM
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Sounds like a pain issue. Have you had a professional saddle fitter check the saddle and the horse's back?
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post #3 of 10 Old 02-26-2011, 11:09 AM Thread Starter
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He isn't actually my horse. But, I know the saddle fits him because it is custom made {well kind of} With a changeable gullet. Ill look into the back pain issue. Thanks a ton.

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post #4 of 10 Old 02-26-2011, 11:23 AM
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It's not guaranteed it's a pain issue. Some horses just don't like being bothered with it and let you know. There's a chance that in the past this bad behavior has gotten him somewhere, so why would he stop? lol

You have to be careful about smacking his butt too much. If you do it too much, then he will start fighting you just walking up to the hitching post.

I take it you're hitching him up for this? I would try holding the lead rope while a buddy cinches him. That way, if he tries to bite her, you can correct it. Also, if he starts acting up, you can immediately (so long as your friend is out of the way) turn him in tight circles on the ground. Do this every time he acts like a turd and eventually he should realize it's easier on him to just stand there, behave, and be cinched.

"All I pay my psychiatrist is the cost of feed and hay, and she'll listen to me allll day."
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post #5 of 10 Old 02-26-2011, 11:35 AM
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You might also try tightening and loosening the cinch. By tighten I mean don't buckle it, just pull it snug then immediately loosen until it's not touching him. He will probably grab at you but just hold your left elbow bent and be ready to move it, just up and down a bit. By repeatedly tightening and loosening he will get bored with it or tired of running into your elbow. The repetition is important. You want to tighten and loosen about every ten seconds so it's rhythmic. I suspect this is learned behaviour as he was likely able to frighten someone and the saddle was removed.
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post #6 of 10 Old 02-26-2011, 12:08 PM
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My mare does this, and after getting her checked out it wasn't back pain, but just her being a badly behaved mare.

She has stopped now, but I used to put the bridle on first, and then hold the reins down by the saddle, keeping the connection to the right side of the bit taut. Then I would do the saddle up, slowly, and because I was holding the right side of her head, she couldn't turn round and attempt to bite.

Mount up and leave your troubles behind on the ground.
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post #7 of 10 Old 02-26-2011, 01:02 PM
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A gelding I had used to do this. Everytime he pinned his ears I made him move his feet aggressively (had him on a lead rope, not tied, and shuffled his rear around quickly). I would "shock" him and make him pay extremely close attention to me and then as quickly as I did it, I stopped and made him stand. A desired response would be him standing still, facing you, with his ears up. If he were to pin his ears at the dominant horse, what do you think would happen? It's your job to be the dominant horse. It's a respect thing.
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post #8 of 10 Old 02-26-2011, 10:03 PM
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It is absolutely a respect issue.

You have to use severe enough negative reinforcement to make him NOT want the consequences of being that bad mannered. The consequences have to outweigh the pay-off for the habit he now has.

It may have started with a bad fitting saddle or it may have started when he did not respect someone, did this and they did not finish saddling him up that day but decided to just do groundwork instead or turned him back out. Whatever, he won a round and will not give it up without a good enough reason, now.

I can tell you that barely pecking on him and scolding him will not only NOT work to fix the problem but will probably make him get more bold and meaner. You have to punish him severe enough that he DOES NOT want to do it again.

When I had horses brought to me for this kind of behavior, I would put a chain lead over the horse's nose and 'set him up'. I would not even throw a saddle pad on him. I would take and old 'junk saddle', walk toward him with it, and the instant he laid his ears back, I would throw the saddle down and jerk the chain lead 3 or 4 times VERY HARD.

Then, I would go back to the saddle, say "Whoa!", pick it up and try again. After three or four of these responses to his threatening posture, he would usually stand there and let me throw the saddle on him. But, he would probably put his ears back and threaten to bite when I reached for the girth. I would jerk the saddle off and punish him again. It would not be long before he fell in love with being saddled.

Then I would take him to the tack room and put a good pad and a good saddle on him. I would be ready to punish him again if he did so much as lay an ear back.

After getting him back to being respectful, then it was time to have his owner start handling him. They oftentimes try it again with their owners. They had to learn to respect them and not just respect me. They did not have to get after him and roughly as I did, but they always had to get after him enough to make the horse behave for them, too.

This same routine works for horse that kicks or threatens to kick when saddled or groomed or for about any other threats or expressions of really bad manners that can be dangerous.

I cannot over-emphasize that just mildly scolding or pecking on one will make many of them worse. Most of the truly viscous horses that I have had to re-train that actually attacked people started with behavior like this and it escalated to attacking, charging, whirling around and kicking viscously, etc. Pecking and scolding just does not stop this kind of behavior.

Remember, if you punish or scold a horse for something and you have to do it every time you try to do the same thing, you are not fixing the problem. If he has trained you to take two people to saddle him or you have to tie him real short to keep him from biting you, you are not fixing the problem. If you are just barely getting past him each time and are just waiting for the problem to get worse, you need to realize that he is training you instead of you training him to be a happy, well-trained horse with good manners.
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post #9 of 10 Old 02-27-2011, 06:00 AM
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although cherie's method might work, it might also inflate the problem. i'd just sit the saddle on his back, wait for him to relax (it will happen) then take it off immediately after he relaxes. once he's comfortable with the saddle, i'd pass the girth under, do it up loose, wait untill he relaxes, then undo it and take it all off. same again and again and again untill the horse really understands that the saddle means relax. and gradually work up to the saddle being nice and tight on him using the same process.
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post #10 of 10 Old 02-27-2011, 02:50 PM
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It's not always back pain, check the horses girth line on both sides and underneath. If the muscle twitches then it's pain and you need to work that out. It is possible that it's a respect issue, but more likely it's pain of some sort or other, or it's remembered pain.
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