Fear of Saddles! (feed back please)
Ok, so, I recently got a horse that I've known for 2 years and he's finally mine. With in a month I got a job. It's to work third shift (11pm-7am) but I had to be trained during the day and will be starting my official shift tonight. In all this I haven't had the time to train him myself, but only bits here and there to really work him. So, since I got him I worked with him a little here and there and he was fine. Round penning, long lineing, saddle on and off....But, I knew that he needed more, so I hired a trainer to come out. I talked with her for a few hours and had her out and showed her what I could do with him and told her that he's basically ready to start his riding lessons. He was a little dancy but behaved and took his saddle and everything. A week later she comes out and he's in the round pen and she goes to saddle him...EXPLOSION!
He wouldn't stand still, he went in circles, he pulled away from her, he was just totally FREAKED out! I had watched her, and she hadn't done anything I wouldn't have...So I knew it wasn't her. It took her a while, but eventually she got the saddle on. Then it came to cynching up the girth. She didn't even get it pulled and he went to bucking like a rodeo horse!
I couldn't believe this was MY horse! He was always calm and never bucked! I paid attention to her more...she still hadn't done anything different....It just blew my mind how he could be totally chill one day, but then this day he freaks out! I thought that maybe it was just her he didn't like, for whatever reason. So I went in to help and he did NOT calm down, so I stepped out again.
Eventually she got it on enough to just round pen him with it on. I had to leave because of a dinner date so I didn't get to see how she finished, but I trust that she didn't do anything too horrible with him because of how I saw her working with him before.
Now a pause for a bit of back story on this horse. He hasn't been messed with much in nearly 2 years. The one time he was worked with it was when his previous owner decided it was ok to let this guy break him. He was cross tied and had everything thrown him at once, then was 'ridden'. I wasn't there, but I heard the story from the previous owner...He proved that he indeed, has the ability to be a rodeo horse. However, since I got him and worked with him, he's not shown that side of him and has taken to everything well. But I know that his first experience with a saddle was not great. Still...he's not acted this way with me.
So, next chapter of this 'short' story is this. I went out there today and worked with him. He was sweet as ever...until I broke out the saddle pad. He danced and circled and was just down right not kosher with me putting it on him. It took me a while, but I got it on him, then I tried the saddle...worse...only difference from what he did with the trainer the day before was that he wasn't pulling AWAY from me. Just lots and lots of spaztic circling. He dumped the pad, dumped the saddle when I finally got it on him several times. The whole pad and saddle thing were NOT working, and I couldn't just 'put' it on him. He wouldn't buck, but he didn't like it! So, I took the pad off, got really close, and threw the saddle up on him. This of course freaked him out, but it put me in the right position to KEEP it on him. Did this many many times. On, circle circle circle, stand still, off. On, repeat, stand still, off. Eventually he was circling less and less. So then I cynched him, absolutely NO buck. He didn't like it, but he barely moved. I left it on him for a while and just made him stand, relax with the saddle on. (something he would NOT do the day before with the trainer). Then about 15 minutes later (also a breather for me lol) I took it off and tried again....Reverted right back to the 'freak out'. So, I tried a new tactic. I would put it on, wait for him to stand, and give him a treat. This worked rather rapidly! So I kept doing that a few more times, cynched, and made him stand. Another breather later, did this again....right BACK to freak out! So, loosing patience and strength, and knowing now that he learns when he's standing and NOT when he's moving....I try a more...er...aggressive approach...I grab my crop and instead of just letting him circle me to get 'away' from the saddle, I pop him in the chest while asking for a 'woah' as I'm throwing the saddle up on him. Let me tell you what...that got his attention! It turned into 5 pops to stop him, to 2, then to 1....I did it over and over and EVERY time he took so much as one step forward, he'd get a 'woah' then a pop if he stepped again. Eventually...he just stood there!
Now, I share this with you because I feel bad that my popping him worked as I was one to always believe that you don't use force...but NOT using force just had him going in circles...literally...I stepped back and realized...when he's moving...he's not thinking...he's just moving moving moving...but, when he's 'forced' to stand still and pay attention to what's actually happening...he's WAY better! This is just so opposite from everything I've read and previously done with ANY horses.
This was written as a bit of a 'journal' entry, as well as to ask for some feed back.
(I do apologize if this entry seems a bit jumbled...this new night shift I'm on has me easily distracted)