I've worked with her with this in 3 sessions so far in the round pen. Each time, I lunge her, do some desensitizing, have her follow me around the pen, back up, shoulder-in, etc. After this I bring the saddle blanket in, lunge her while I hold it, and when she comes in I rub it all over, then put it on. In comes the saddle, at which time she usually backs away, so I send her out along the rail and make her trot for a little while. When she asks to come in, I let her, and put the saddle on gently. Walk her around, slowly girth up. Then I put the bridle on, which she's fine with, and send her out along the rail again. When she asks to come in, again, I let her, and rub my hands all over her and the saddle. Then I stand on the mounting block and if she backs away, I send her out again. When she comes in, I line her up with the block and she's totally fine with that. Then I get down, praise her, get back on the block, and put my hands on her while leaning forward. Gradually, little by little, she will stand with weight from my upper body on her, and will stand when I hold the stirrup up and wiggle the horn a bit. Whenever she backs away, I send her out again until she asks to come in, and we restart. She has never let me get past the point of the foot in the stirrup, though. Once, after an hour and a half in the round pen, I jumped on when she started to back away and she took off running around the pen like a lunatic, which is what she did when I first rode her.
When we tried her out, she jumped forward when I got on, but her old owner was holding her so that's all she did. It's not saddle fit, but I have no idea what it is other than a bad past experience. She loves people and attention, but is very timid and it used to take me forever to catch her because she was so scared. Now she rushes to the gate, hoping to be groomed, whenever she sees me with a halter. She's improved so much, but she hasn't gotten past the point of the foot in the stirrup. Once I got on, all three times I've ridden her, she's been an absolute dream under saddle. It's getting on that's so frustrating. I try to keep it positive, I lunge her without saddling her a lot, and do a lot of trust exercises, but I just can't get past this with her. We're thinking of having a John Lyons-style trainer come out that did miracles with Sunny and having him work with Lenox for a while. He costs $200 to solve any problem, and he will stay as long as it takes to solve the problem. He told us how he worked 6 hours once, well into the night, with one horse a few years back who was a chronic rearer, biter, and kicker. At the end of the session, the horse was as docile as a lamb.
You are such a good round penner that I know this work will all put good stuff into your horse. However, when I read this here's the very first thought that comes into my mind, FWIW.
If you are constantly sending her out to work around the round pen, then maybe she is beginnig to feel that this is thea way it's supposed to be.
"I do a little something, then she askes me to run around the pen, then I do a little more, then I run around the pen".
Question: are you having her run around the pen on a line or free? And is this a big run around the pen or (if on a line), is she made to move closely around you.?
Maybe you need to slow the whole mounting block process down. Do just as you explained in all the parts about bringing her up, leaning on her , wiggling things, getting her balanced, (with lots of petting and praise between each step) and THEN . . . . Stop. Stop while you are still successful.
After you have done this several times (each time reducing the amount of time you spend on the preperatory steps. I mean, if she is ok with the saddle blanket, don't need to be too cautious. Just walk up to her and put it on.
It's possible that since she is a very sensitive horse, that you have become overly accomidating to her caution. That you are being so careful, walking too lightly, that she reads that there is some reason to be timid herself.
I would start being sloppy around her as much as you can without overfacing her. Start moving around her bruskly when grooming, start putting the blanket on off kilter, then repositioning. Stuff like that.
As for the mounting, the thing I showed there will eventually work, but if she is still at the stage of not being able to tolerate a foot in the stirrup, then that is outside of this video. However, you may find that the one rein method for keeping her AT the mounting block may be of some use.
So, I might stop sending her out every time she has trouble at the mounting block, just bring her around and start again, stop BEFORE she gets overfaced.
I agree with tinyliny.
I also might have a suggestion that could be helpful...maybe, hopefully. Haha
So, Lacey used to have the worst habit of just taking off as soon as my foot got into the stirrup. She'd feel me getting up there and since she knows I have barely any control when I'm in the process of mounting up, she'd start turning/walking etc, basically anything she could think of since she could get away with it.
I tried putting a halter/leadrope on her under her bridle and getting on in steps and making her run (lunge her on the leadrope, I have an extra long leadrope) if she started moving off when my foot went into the stirrup or as I was bouncing around on the ground next to her before I got on and that never worked. She would still move off and I just figured that that method was not for us.
But! Then I tried that method again at my house now that she's home, and we just so happened to be in my driveway at the time, on gravel. So, she was having to trot on gravel. And you know what? After that happened on a few occasions, she now stands stock still until I ask her to move. I can mount from anywhere now and she's like "oh. Ok!" and doesn't move.
I think the thing was that running around is a sort of reward for her, or at least it's not aversive enough. But, since gravel and asphalt are not comfy to run on, it helped her realize that she really doesn't want to move when I mount up because running is really not as fun.
I was really surprised with how quick of a turn around it was too. I mean, I've been fighting her walking off while I mount for the entire 3 years I've owned her! It was like the lightbulb finally clicked on.
But this is just a random suggestion that may or may not help with your situation, so use it or not. :)
I don't use a line with her when I lunge, just because I find it easier, but occasionally I put her on a longer leadrope and ask her to walk and trot around me on a loose rope, and she's great at that. Actually, I don't always send her away, if she's standing nicely at the block and just backs up a little, I'll turn her around the block so she's on the other side of it, and continue to try to work with her that way. When I put the saddle blanket and lead rope on her, I toss it up on her neck, under her tummy, on her butt, even over her nose, and she stands well for it. I wiggle it around and then pat it when it's in place. I'm very gentle with the saddle, however, because she is very wary about it.
I appreciate the suggestions, but I think this one might be out of my league, so if she makes no more progress this week, I'll ask my mom if I can call up the trainer and see when he can come up. I'm so excited to ride her more this summer, she is a spectacular horse and very willing. I just don't know what caused her to feel like mounting is a painful or bad thing.
Great video, I'm going to work on this with my babies, the ones that I haven't even started to mount, it would be great to be able to get them set up wherever I need THEN think about actually getting on.
Tiny you are a great horsewoman.
Equiniphile is your horse totally relaxed at the block?
How long do you let her rest at the block before you mount? Can you relax her rock her back then quit...next time then relax her rock her back put foot in and back out before she braces then rest.... a long time?