Are you 100% sure that the saddle fits perfectly?
Lacey used to do the exact same thing, like down to a T and I tried a variety of saddles (I rode English back then) and with some of them she was a bit better but she'd always behave like that. Then, I decided "what the heck" and tried her out in a western saddle (that I knew fit pretty well). And yknow what? It was like night and day. Suddenly she was only taking a step or two when I got on, and some days she'd even stay completely still. Her back also grew so much muscle after we switched to western, permanently. I haven't found an English saddle that fits her yet so I haven't been able to see if she just hates riding English or whether it was just the ill-fitting saddles, but once I changed the saddle, she was great. Since Lenox is a draft, she's probably wider than your other horses, which could mean that your saddle is too narrow for her and she's just trying to tell you about it. I suggest putting pictures up on the forum, they were amazing when I was trying to find a saddle that fit Lacey.
Another thing that could be going on for you (at least it was going on for Lacey and I) is that you may be holding the reins too tight. I suppose as a defense mechanism, when I knew Lacey was going to take off, I'd start holding the reins tighter. However, that just freaked her out more. So, I've taken to having the rein on the right side be loose enough to really loop and having the rein on the left side be short enough that if Lacey starts moving, she has to go in a circle and she can't put her head straight forward, but not tight enough that she can't get a break. That's helped a lot, for me, mentally. I know that she can't take off with me yet she isn't being super constricted, like she's worried about.
Another thing that I discovered with Lacey that seemed to make her more comfortable undersaddle is going bitless with her. As it turns out, with her being a gray horse (and perhaps this is a little of what's going on with Lenox since she's also gray), she has hardening of the sides of her mouth from melanoma type things (that gray horses very commonly get). I can feel it very easily, you could probably easily feel it if Lenox has it too. That means that she basically cannot feel the corners of her mouth, at all. So, when I had a jointed snaffle in her mouth, well, since she couldn't feel the first pressure of the snaffle on the corners of her mouth, she got absolutely no warning before she was being poked in the roof of the mouth by the snaffle. So basically, that makes it so she really cannot be comfortable with anything in her mouth. And actually, when she was in a bit, she was a real leaner which I think stemmed from the fact that she couldn't feel my rein aids before I was really pulling on her. It was amazing how much lighter she got just switching to bitless, it was really crazy.
I wish you luck! Please, keep in mind that it's probably something that's hurting her since she's such a sweetie and she's having such a violent reaction. Don't just settle for "it's a training problem", like I did, and then torture your poor, sweet, mare for the next 2 years before you figure it out, like me. I feel so bad looking back on how I treated Lacey because I thought she was being bad, but she was really just trying to tell me that she was hurting.
ETA- Lacey was also totally fine once she was ridden for a little bit. It was just right after you got on that she was crazy. And even if you were on for a while, then got off and got back on again, that second time getting on she'd be perfect! So not acting weird after you're riding for a bit isn't a good gauge of whether she's in pain or not, imo.
And I hope you don't feel like I'm ragging on you, I'm not trying to. It's just hard since I've been there too and I feel so badly about it still. Yknow?
Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding
Rest peacefully, Lacey.
Last edited by Wallaby; 12-07-2010 at 08:54 PM.