new horse is nervous/scared
i recently purchased a 5 year old quarter horse mare.
she is covered in old scars and although the people i bought her from said the previous owners abused her, i have heard from others that the people i bought her from abuse all their horses.
she is really good most of the time- easy to catch, groom and lead, etc
but when i bring out the saddle and saddle blankets she gets nervous/scared
she has never tried to bite or kick, she just paces at the end of her lead rope and moves away from me at all costs.
the majority of the problem occurs when i am tightening the girth and getting on.
she is a little better when i have help and someone can hold her while i am tightening the girth and mounting, but most of the time i do not have help.
i have been working with her by just putting the saddle and pads on and off repeatedly[take them off, put them on, take them off,etc]
and rubbing her all over with the saddle pads and she is getting better but we still have problems with the girth.
is there anything i can do myself? should i find someone to help me everytime until she gets better?
how can i make her calm and not bothered by the girth?
how can i make her stand still ?
she is also absolutely terrified of a lunge whip or any other kind of whip
Im guessing that saddle means very heard work to her. When you tighten the girth do you try tighten all the way at once or in increments? To try to keep from my horses getting craby I will initial tighten enough so that the saddle wont fall off if they were to shake or something. The I will mess with getting the bridle or their work boots on...I will tighten a little more. then I will walk out to lunge or to the arena I will tighten a little more. If I lunge I will tighten before they go the other way and then when Im done I will do the final tighten...walk a little bit and then get on...
not sure if that makes sense, My mares like to blow their tummies out when i first go to tighten...then I dont get a good tightness.
Maybe you could saddle her and then walk her around doing some easy ground work and then unsaddle her and put her away. if you have time do this a few times a day...this way saddle might not mean "work". I hope this helps some...be safe and good luck
My mare is also quite nervous and does the same thing when I approach her with something new...the other night it was hoof dressing!
What I have found that works when she starts pacing at the end of the lead rope is to immediately make her back up. I've actually spent time with her getting her to respond to me on the ground, respect my space, pay attention to me when she's on the lead, shift her body when and where I tell her to etc. So when I say sternly "back!" and walk towards her rear...she backs up immediately.
Now that she's learned that and I introduce something new...like hoof dressing...the minute she starts pacing and being silly... I very purposefully make her back up at least 10 steps. Eventually, after 2 or 3 times, she realizes that is much harder than standing still for me. Then I can calmly and slowly do what I need to do, like paint her hooves with a lot of good girls and pats without her dancing around. And then she realizes that hey...this isn't painful or uncomfortable and it's all ok. Then she really relaxes.
Hope that helps a bit!
If she is abused, that could explain why she is terrified of the whip.
With the girth, tighten in slow increments. Tighten, wait for her to relax, tighten, wait for her to relax. That's what I would try. I think you're right on with saddle and blanket pad. Rub her with pad and wait for her to relax, either licking, relaxing her hind leg, or just standing still for a small amount of time and then take it away. Advance and retreat is the key, at least, that's worked for me.
First let me say you have gotten excellent advice already. Definitely do the cinching in increments never all at once.
You might try letting her get used to your saddle and pad before you put it on her. Just set it down in front of her, or hang it over the hitching rail if you have one. Close enough for her to see and smell it. Go about your brushing and hoof cleaning, then try putting the blanket and saddle on.
If you have an ill fitting saddle it may be causing her pain. I had a saddle that would start Vida to trembling whenever I brought it close to her. She would let me tack her up, but she would be shaking the whole time. Poor sweety has a saddle that fits her now :D
That is all great advise. It's going to take Time and Patience on your part to get her through the fear. The incremental cinching is the right way to cinch any horse; I do it in 2 or 3 steps depending on weather the horse I'm saddling blows or not. After I cinch them up I'll stretch out their front legs to unpinch any skin that may have gotten caught under the girth. The standing still part comes with confidence in you that you are not going to hurt her. It comes with time. I like Vidaloco's suggestion about having the saddle in site and near enough for her to smell.
Personally I never ride a new horse for the first week. There is too much for them to adjust to besides having me as well. What I like to do after a few days is to saddle them and keep them in a rope halter with a long lead under my bridle but no reins. I"ll lead the horse around and just do some yard work or anything I else I can think of keeping my horse with me. Try to ignore any hesitation your horse makes and just go about your business as usual. I find that it gets them used to the surroundings, their tack, and me as their leader all at the same time.
I wish you luck with your new horse!
thanks for all the great advice!
i do tighten the girth in about 4 increments each time though and it doesnt seem to help [i have never tightened it all at once]
i usually put it as loose as it will go and walk her around a bit,
than go back and tighten it a bit more, then stretch her legs, then tighten, then bridle, then tighten.
i also forgot to mention her initial instinct is always to back up.
if she is not tied then she will back up and back up
tonight i went out and tried backing her up when she started pacing and she backed up for about 5 minutes straight with no problem. it didnt bother her. i just kept making her back up and she just kept doing it. i even started turning her and changing directions and i almost thought that she was enjoying herself
i do appreciate the advice
i will try the advance and wait idea
and the "saddle doesnt mean work"
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