I really need help with a problem I've been having since the start of the year. I really am confused and I have no idea even remotely how to tackle it anymore.
I think it was last January, my horse began...protesting...when I put a saddle on her. It was a pretty sudden occurrence, though I will bet she gave me a thousand warning signs before it escalated and I just am not experienced enough to see it. She would pin her ears and would even try to nip (she never came close, just "snaked" her head-but the threat was pretty clear). I got after her pretty hard soon after she began "nipping", and she doesn't nip anymore, but the 'angry' expression and ears turned back are still there. This isn't progress-if I were having progress, it would not be taking 7 months to fix.
I have tried everything-from ignoring it to getting after her really hard (like, chasing her backwards smacking her), and I am not seeing improvement.
The strangest thing is, though, she only does it at the hitching post. I took her out into the open yard so I had room to move her and let her back up and work with her, and she stood still. She had an irritated expression, but after I backed her up and then proceeded to throw it on her over and over and over again, she didn't particularly care. What is it about the hitching post? I groom her there many times without saddling-it's not like she ONLY ever gets tied there to be saddled. However, it is (for the most part) the only place I ever saddle her when I intend on riding-if I'm just 'practising' to get her over this problem, I sometimes take her other places. Really though, it shouldn't matter if it's the hitching post or ground tied. I don't want to make it a habit of not saddling at the rail, because then soon enough she won't like being saddled in some other spot, and then eventually she probably wouldn't allow me to saddle her at all. So I want to get her over this period.
I am almost positive it's not a pain issue. I've had her regular saddle checked, and she does it no matter what saddle I'm using. Plus, she only really does it when we're at home-if we trailer away, no ear pinning, no irritation, though she does sometimes move away and swing her butt away.
At first I thought it was a simple matter of respect (obviously it is, if she's pinning her ears at me), but even after I back her up, move her over, make her yield to my space, as soon as I tie her up and come with the saddle, it seems to have no effect. I don't know if it's me? If it is, I don't know what I need to do to change (if I did, I wouldn't be having this problem).
I would really appreciate help with this. It's sort of made me develop a distrust of her, which of course affects us in other areas, too. I'm going to ask my trainer about it, but any other advice and help would be greatly welcomed.