Pins Ears as Saddle Goes On - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 01-05-2011, 06:08 PM Thread Starter
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Pins Ears as Saddle Goes On

This is a new issue we've been having...and since she's barely ever looked at me the wrong way, I'm saying this is fairly serious. Whenever you put the saddle pad and/or saddle on her, she pins her ears and turns her head around to give you the "evil eye". She's tried nipping, and though it's never connected or come near, this is something I'm pretty sure is going to get more and more serious unless I can put a stop to it, and if this doesn't stop I'm probably going to get bit at some point.

Once the saddle's on, she doesn't dance around or misbehave-just stands there with her ears pinned. Once you start to cinch it up, and walk her around to tighten it she forgets all about it and is pretty much back to normal, but it's when you're just putting it on.

I tried giving her a smack early on when she began being witchy, and that never worked so needless to say I don't do that anymore. I've started putting it on, and when she puts her ears forward and isn't being a prick, I'll take it off...and repeat. I don't know if this is the right thing to do, though. I'd say just ignore it and continue on with what I'm doing, but as I said before...I don't want to disregard it if she's only going to become progressively worse. I don't usually throw it on or be too rough about it, and she never retains her pinned ear stance after the saddle's on and we're off, so I'm pretty sure it's not due to pain. We haven't been having the greatest/most pleasant rides of late, so perhaps she's just sour about having to work? I just don't know.

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post #2 of 7 Old 01-05-2011, 06:27 PM
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: West Central Illinois
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Are you positive the saddle is fitting her correctly? I would look into getting saddle fitter or another person who is experienced with tack to check her saddle fit.
Some horses ae more tolerant to pain than others. The saddle may be pinching her only slightly, but she may be trying to tell you, "I don't like that because it hurts."
If the saddle fit checks out ok, I would have a equine chiropractor, vet, or equine massage therapist come check her out. She may not be having pain from the saddle, but she could have a knot in her back or other issues going on.

Like you said, it may be because she knows the saddle means work. If this is truly the case, I would try to saddle her up and then just leave her alone. Before you start cleaning out stalls, just saddle her up, then tie her where you can watch her (Or put her in a clean stall) and leave her alone. Once she has sat for a while, unsaddle her and then turn her out or leave her in the stall. To make your work more effective, I would not ride her for 2-3 weeks after starting this, so she is more apt to think the saddle doesn't always mean work. After that time period, I would slowly intergrate riding back into her routine, being sure to still saddle her up and leave her once in a while. Hopefully, that should solve her behavior, if the "saddle = work" theory is the case.

Hope this helps! Good luck!
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post #3 of 7 Old 01-05-2011, 07:10 PM
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Milford, Kentucky, USA
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First you need to eliminate the possibility of pain due to injury before you move on to the attitude part. If this is something recently new then I suspect she's sore for some reason. Professional help is definitely required.
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post #4 of 7 Old 01-05-2011, 08:47 PM Thread Starter
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Hmm...I did actually have her saddle looked at (by my riding instructor) a few weeks ago, and it was fine. Of course, I know that doesn't mean she's not sore. I just always thought that if it were pain, she'd continue to be sour throughout the cinching up and riding...thoughts on this?

I'll work with her bigtime tomorrow on it; get some treats out and such, and see what I can do. I'll update then, though it's likely I won't see much progress.

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post #5 of 7 Old 01-05-2011, 10:33 PM
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Like I said before, All horse handle pain differently. She may only react when the saddle is being put on because that is just how she handles it.

Did you check the saddle pad? Sometimes debris can get caught in the fabric and rub the horse.

At this point, I would saddle her up a few times and not ride her (In case she is in pain), but if the problem still persists, I would call the vet or a chiropractor out to have a look at your horse.

Good luck!
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post #6 of 7 Old 01-06-2011, 04:50 PM Thread Starter
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***UPDATE! I think I've found the solution***

Thanks so much for your advice, A knack for horses, and I think I know what her problem was.

I went out today with no intention of riding, and only brought the saddle. I brought her out and "got her used" to me putting the saddle on, adjusting it, moving it around etc, and after about 15 minutes there was slight change, but nothing really noteworthy. It wasn't until I asked her to move over, she swayed her butt TOWARDS me and I literally had to kick her @ss that I realized this is a respect issue. She hasn't tested me in so long that I never even thought of that, but after I did some respect "exercises", she was a lot more willing to let me put the saddle on. Of course, this is just one day...she may be back to the witch face tomorrow, but I'm very hopeful that's all it was. As I said previously, our rides of late have been terrible, and tonight I got on her in just a halter and lead rope, and she was awesome. I think her lack of respect for me is the root of all our problems in the past few would make sense.

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post #7 of 7 Old 01-06-2011, 09:25 PM
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^ I'm glad you figured out the problem, and that I was of help to you.

Now that you mention it, I've had a similar issue back when I took lessons.
At that time, I wasn't as aware of the horses' "language". But for a few lessons, I hadn't had such great rides on my lesson horse. At my 5th lesson on the streak of bad rides, I had to go catch Ann and bring her into the barn to groom and saddle her. Once I got into the barn, Annie had pulled me (on my feet) down the aisle and walked right into her stall.
My instructor saw and we had a 15 minute lesson on being the alpha and not tolerating "challenging" behavior. Once I got on her, I had one of the best rides on Ann I had ever had.

Anyway, just keep an eye on her when you saddle, but it sounds like you won't have anymore problems.
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