Gelding wont stand still while saddling

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Gelding wont stand still while saddling

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    09-13-2010, 12:40 PM
Gelding wont stand still while saddling

Hi guys

Ive had my Morgan gelding for about 2 weeks now. I've been doing alot of ground work and trying to get a relationship going with him since he grew up in a heard and he is not used to being handled every day. So far I've been working on longing him and getting him to respect my space by doing lots of turns on the haunches and forehand and getting him to sidepass all from the ground trying to get control of each section of his body. He is very responsive and pretty respectful of me while I do all these different ground exercises. When he first arrived they told me he was scared about his back feet being picked up so they just havnt picked them up for a while. This scared me but in 2 weeks he has gone from trying to kick me every time I go near his back end to letting me touch his back legs every where and he is starting to let me pick them up and pick his back feet. He was also very head shy and now I am able to touch both ears, get him to lower his head and touch him all over his face.

So this weekend I thought he was ready to saddle up and just lunge him with the saddle and bridle on. Well he thought different. First off, I have rode him before. He knows what a saddle and saddle blanket is. It took me an hour just for him to let me put the saddle pad on. He thought it was going to eat him. Now my issue is that he gets in my space when he gets scared and there is no way to stop him from doing it. He is tied when im doing this and he moved his back end back and forth from side to side and if im standing there then I get thrown or stuck between him and the fence. So I finally got the saddle pad on so I went for the saddle…he did the same thing of trying to get away from me. I let him smell the saddle and take a step towards him with it and let him settle, take a step and let him settle. Then when im going to put it on he freaks! So im standing next to him and he tucks his butt and literally scoots right between me and the fence and gets away from me. No matter what cues I use he doesn’t listen. I should be able to touch his butt and him move away from me like he does when we are doing our groundwork but he doesn’t, he just keeps coming. This is extremely dangerous! What if I was to fall over and he steps on me? So when I went yesterday I had my BO help me out. He stood there and threw both of us…

Now, I already have contacted a local trainer who is going to start coming out and giving me a hand. We only have about another month before the snow comes so im hoping to be on his back this year. Then in the spring I will be sending him to this trainer for a 3 month refresher.

I want to see some of your guy’s suggestions for what I should try with him…the trainer will be out next Saturday so I have 2 weeks to continue working with him and see if I can figure some thing out.

Thank you
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    09-13-2010, 01:36 PM
    09-13-2010, 03:17 PM
You said that you've ridden him before... and he didn't try to move away from the pad and saddle? Has the tack changed? Does the saddle fit him properly in all dimensions? Could there be something painful on the bottom of the pad? Is there any reason why he would suddenly not want the saddle on his back? If this is a new development, then something has changed. He may have rolled funny in his pasture, and so is sore to saddle, who knows...

If you can rule out pain/discomfort... Have you done any sacking out/desensitizing with him? Some horses just need more time taken with others to get totally comfortable with the saddle/pad moving around them. Something that helped my nervous MorganX was to take a scary object and walk away from him, letting him follow behind me on the lead rope. Shoot, at one time he was deathly afraid of a plastic deck chair. I walked around my arena for 20 minutes carrying that chair, horse following with buggy eyes. Did the trick, though...

Anyway, if it's a totally new behavior I would look long and hard for a physical cause. If it's just something that he always has done, rule out a physical cause and do as much desensitizing as it takes to get him comfortable.
    09-13-2010, 04:08 PM
Its all different tack from when I first rode him, but I had a saddle fitter come out and make sure that my saddle fit him the day I first rode him. I did it kind of backwards because I already had my custom built cutting saddle that I spent an arm and a leg on for my old horse so I needed to make sure it fits the horse before I bought the horse. Weird concept but I wanted to make sure...

I havnt had his back checked and he could have rolled in the last 2 weeks. I have been feeling his back all over and he doesnt seem to shy away from any spots. I don't know if he would or not it might be a good idea to have some one look at his back just to make sure...

As far as sacking out I have done a little. I put a plastic bag on the end of a whip and just rubbed him all over with it and he didnt really mind it. Heck when I bought him they wanted to show off how quiet he was. They fired a gun off right next to him and he never moved. I didnt just walk up to him with the pad and saddle and try to put it on. I rubbed the blanket all over his back and up on his neck and letting it fall off his butt. The saddle is a little harder to sack him out with since its 68 lbs and walking around with it and trying to rub it all over him can be hard so I used my old english saddle and he didnt blink an eye at that saddle.

Im thinking im going to try leaving the saddle right out of it for a while...take my time with the saddle pad and keep working on that till I can put it on with no fuss then move to the saddle. Is that a good idea?
    09-13-2010, 05:27 PM
If he's truly scared of being saddled, he's simply not ready yet. You will need to back up and do lots of desensitizing with all kinds of things before you try again. Basically, he should be to the point where he doesn't bat an eyelash over the saddle before you get that far.

When he's comfortable with the saddle pad, blankets, trash bags (or whatever), when it comes time to do the saddle, don't let "fear" be an option. Have him in a large round pen. Do some lunging exercises and let him in to the middle where you and the saddle are. Pick the saddle up. If he goes to move, immediately send him around for a few more laps. I mean immediately! Let him come back in and stop. When he's calm, pick the saddle up again. If he moves, send him out again. Keep repeating this until you get something accomplished, whether it's just that you can pick it up and take a step towards him without him moving away. Keep these sessions relatively short, like no more than 20-30 minutes. Gradually work up to getting a saddle on his back.

If you're not in a hurry and don't approach him in that way, it will go along way to establishing a trust between the two of you!
    09-13-2010, 05:34 PM
Thank you Cobalt.

I have been lunging him then I go back and try again and if he moved then I lunge him again. I never tried lunging him with the saddle with me in the middle of the round pen. Ill try that tonight forsure...

Should I try this with just the saddle pad first because he's acting like this with just the saddle pad as well??

He might be afraid of the saddle. But why didnt he do any thing when we were at his old place? I first rode him in the old owners saddle and I tacked him up myself. Then we came back and met the fitter and tried my saddle on him and I rode again.

I guess it could just be that he is still young for a Morgan, new place, new horses, new smells, new saddle?? I guess I need to slow down with him. I have all the time in the world to work with him but I was really suprised by his actions. To be honest I was completly shocked...

Thanks again
    09-13-2010, 06:55 PM
Well....if he acts *that* much different it does make one wonder if he'd been aced a little bit. I know there are dishonest people out there who would give a horse a calming agent to make him/her seem a lot calmer than in reality. Of course, it could be that he's a little slow to gain trust and that the new environment, smells, people, etc. have him a little worried. But in reality, if there is a radical difference in how he acts with you and how he acts with his previous owner, I'd really wonder about the tranq.

The method I described is good to use with any kind of equipment you are trying to use to desensitize. It's ok for a horse to show fear of a new thing, and I indulge them in being cautious, curious, afraid, etc at first. But the best thing for a horse experiencing fear is to be asked to do something familiar and that he/she already knows how to do. Moving his feet will help him settle down. It may be very very slow steps at first, like just getting a pad on his back, but like I said, discourage his moving away by asking him to work. Then give him plenty of opportunites to rest and "explore" this new item. It helps to be able to do free lunging so you're not trying to handle the lunge line in addition to a saddle or equipment, but it can be done either way. The biggest thing here is your timing, and not overtiring him. Also always end on a positive note. That is important too!

Good luck!
    09-13-2010, 07:00 PM
I wanted to add that when working with a frightened horse, being tied will just intensify the problems. I would strongly suggest that you not try to do any kind of desensitizing exercise with this horse tied. It could lead to a disaster such as I've had to learn the hard way to avoid! Trust me on this! Go into a round pen type space where you can ask him to move and he won't think its his idea, does that make sense? Just move him out with a lunging whip when he tries to crowd your space or gets afraid and tries to bail on you.

Also, as a 2 year old who hasn't been handled much, he's far from well trained. You will have a long way to go with him, and it sounds like he was definitely either worked hard and was tired when you rode him, or tranq'd. I hate to say that but from carefully reading your first post I sure have to wonder. His behavior sounds pretty normal for a young horse just being started I'd approach him like he's never been started and you are doing it all for the first time. That's your safest bet!
    09-13-2010, 07:01 PM
My BO said the same thing about the tranq. I thought about that, but the people were sooo up front with me about Dan. They told me if it doesnt work out they have no problem with him coming back or working some thing out for an older, more experienced horse. They are pretty well known breeders around this area as well so I don't think they would have done some thing like that...but it does make me wonder that's for sure!

Thanks again
    09-13-2010, 07:25 PM
Hes 5 not 2. They started him as a 3 year old then havnt done alot with him since. I thought since I rode him when I went to see him that I wouldnt have to start all over again but I've been told a few times its probably the smartest thing to do. So this year I think im going to let him settle in and work on a few of his fears then send him to a trainer again in the spring...I know im no horse trainer so im not doing this on my own for his and my own safety.

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