How do I start him back under saddle safely?
Sammy is an older -supposed- Missouri Fox Trotter gelding that I brought in as a rescue in early March. Since then he has packed on the pounds and has become a definite family favorite with his gentle personality and easy-going ways.
Now, my question is, how do I start him back under saddle safely?
The gentlemen I bought him from said he was completely ridable. Semis, ATV's, cars, you name it. He just does not do well riding at night and headlights spook him. I suppose this is because his night vision is poor to begin with and the bright light flat out blinds him completely.
Obviously, I have not tested his riding claim. When I got him I couldn't imagine putting ANYTHING on his back, now however, he is ready to start with light work.
I have lunged him at a walk, and very brief bits at a trot (I don't want to push him to hard). He is VERY responsive, halts properly and on cue and needs little encouragement to get going. He does not pull you around, shy from the whip, or pitch a fit when you ask to change directions.
He IS shod, and his feet are neat and trimmed. He does not limp or show any signs of lameness. He does trot and canter in the pasture (often times because my nine year old is chasing after him -sigh)
Halter perfectly, I'm working with getting him to come when called and he learns quickly.
Leads fine. I do sometimes have issues with him pulling his head down to eat, but after a firm No (occasionally two) he stops and goes were you point him.
Lunges, as stated above.
Picks up all four feet. I've accidentally confused him once or twice when doing his back hooves. I've cleaned one, then went to do the other but bumped into the already finished one and he's picked it up again, waiting for me to continue.
Allow rubbing all over, top to bottom. You can play with his ears, mess with his tail, examine his teeth without problems.
'Spooks in place' and 'gets things quickly'. I have startled him by mistake, and unlike my younger geldings, he remains in one spot and doesn't go flying off snorting. The first time he heard the rather sudden, very loud, noise of the water hose in the water bucket he did start, but after that was fine with it. My younger geldings? Still race off, no matter how much I forewarn them and assure them it's okay.
Stand still when tied. He will paw, scoot around, try to eat, and in general be fidgety and annoying.
Listen when I tell him to quit tearing up my pasture and be patient. He will paw (and stomp) when he -really- wants his grain. He has been doing this less often lately, thankfully.
Any advice, links, tips, tricks anyone? Should I start with a bag at the end of the lunge whip? What type of bit should I begin with (the gentlemen I bought him from said he was rode with a hackamore, though he rode with a bit)?
Wait! I'll fix it....