How did you brake your horse to saddle??
How did you brake your horse to saddle...Or did you have a horse that bucked under saddle and how did you fix it?
Im really curious to hear all the different ways...Ive seen the simple way of using a blanket, once the horse is ok with that then use the saddle and just take baby steps until, it can W/T/C on the lunge line and then you get on.
But whats your way?
Pretty much the baby step approach... it works really well and gains trust. When I broke my old Appy he was so trusting and desensitized to any and everything that he could not have cared less about the saddle. But we did everything with him we could think of, from tieing plastic bags to his halter to setting up a tarp on top of 4 jump standards and walking under it (all was done as a weanling). He wore blankets as a baby and was taught to lunge as a yearling so he was used to the circingle being tightened around his belly.
The more you do with your horse (even unrelated to weight on their back) to de-spook them, the more accepting they are of everything you throw at them. When I finally backed him, as a 2yo, he stood perfectly still, and then we walked around the ring a few times (with a lead person) and he acted as though he'd done it 100 times before.
All my horses are well broke with both the saddle and bridle before they are started with the trainer. Saddle breaking starts when they are 1-2 year olds. Start off by just putting it on, then it's a matter of adding the girth and tightening it. From there, they are put on the lunge line and work at all 3 paces. With time I also lunge them with the stirrups down for short sessions. Get them used to that. Doing it that way is (in my opinion) the least traumatic way of getting them used to things. By the time mounting time comes, all we have to worry about is the actual riding.
You can even take it one step further and get them used to the mounting block. Teach them to stand when you get up on the top step and not be afraid. Lots to do with youngsters! :D
Great thanks guys!
my2gelding- so you just break them to the saddle at two and then ride at three? Or do you also ride at two? Cause I always thought that you should wait to get on a horse untill its three years.
Hrt4dressage- what other kind of desensitizing do you do? I havent seen/read to much of those 'projects'
Well my two horses that I've backed and started (or had a hand in helping do so) were already used to having some gear on them... as they were harness racing horses.
I took the same path with my two, although the speed was different between them both. This is what I did...
1 Make sure they knew how to back and come forward on the lead.
2 Desensitise the entire body by gently swinging lunge lead all over the body... ie let it drape over the head, neck, everywhere and in odd places - so they don't have a reason to fear being touched anywhere.
3 Teach to lunge at walk and trot
4 Gear the horse up (bridles are not a problem with ex race horses... usually just the saddle first, and then add in the saddle blanket if okay with it)
5 Lead out with gear on
6 Lunge with gear on
7 Introduce playing with the saddle - bouncing beside the horse, hand pressure in the stirrup, playing with the stirrup, making noises around and on the saddle, tapping of the palm all over the hindquarters, rocking the saddle etc
8 Introduce the bucket and height change (the step that both my horses didn't like, they couldn't understand how i was now taller) - Do everything in previous step again.
9 Put foot in the stirrup and put weight in it
10 Hoist over the saddle sideways, resting on your stomach
11 Use stirrup to hoist yourself over sideways
12 From laying across the saddle, swing leg over and stay low... slowly rise up.
13 Make sure horse can see you in either periphal (sp)
14 Dismount, then repeat mounting... once okay with this, mount properly.
15 Be led around... doing things like holding out your arms and and swinging legs around
16 Begin lunging with a rider, and then so forth.
These steps can be done in the space of a week to the space of a month +... really depends on the horse. I did about uhh 5 or so sessions with Honey before my mate did from 10 to 15 in the space of two weeks... with Evo I did all that for about 3-4weeks, because he's bigger than Honey and suffers from anxiety... he's really sensitive whereas Honey took everything in and didn't care about it except for that scary bucket! Lol.
Some people have their horses lunging w/t/c before working with them... I see the benefits with cantering beforehand, but I haven't yet cantered Honey on the lunge, and I've been riding her at the trot... she's been under saddle for less than a month. Like I say, it depends on the individual horse with how fast you move... Honey is ready for everything before we do it. And unlike Evo, she had no fuss about trotting... she'd actually been wanting to try it for the whole week before I did trot her lol.
Evo took longer... I was only lunged once on Honey and that was for my first ride on her... Evo was lunged for ages, because he just didn't have the confidence in himself to do it. He was actually trotting before he went off the lunge completely.
I guess there are other ways of doing it... but this is what works for me... I hope I've given some idea :)
We are big on using our long lead ropes and stick and string for getting ready for the saddeling process. Flicking the string of the stick, or long lead (we use 12-14 ft lead ropes) over the back of the horse gets them used to the movement your arms and body will make when putting the saddle on. Also gets them used to feel of "something" going across their back.
We put the lead ropes around the horses girth area and will pull it taught with our hands. Not tight to scare the horse, but to put pressure on the area. It allows the horse to start feeling the sensation of constriction in the girth area. Holding it with your hands allows you to control how much pressure the horse is exposed to.
We also do a lot of jumping up and down by the girth area, where you would be if you were going to get on. Gets them used to seeing you make that movement. If you are able, it is a great desensatizer to jump up and lean across their back. Not stradle them, just lay across their back. For horses that have not been riden, this lets them see you from both sides (which is one thing that scares a lot of young horses). And they get to feel weight on their back. In this position should the horse spook, jump, take off or whatever, it is easy for you to just slid down and reassure the horse. We dont do this part until the horse is comfortable with us jumping up and down beside them.
When we do jump up and lay across the back, at first it will be jump up, lay across and immediatly slide off, before the horse really even has a chance to react. Then lots of rubbing to let them know that was all a good thing. Repeat. When they seem to be understanding what is going on, we will increase the length of time laying across the back, and really rub them as much as possible all over while laying up there.
If you are confident enough and feel you have enough skill you can work that up to stradeling them.
We have found that doing this really prepares the horse for the saddle and the sensations that he will be encountering.
When the horse is comfortable with this, you could incorporate some of the previous suggestions for introducing the saddle pad, saddle etcetera.
I hope you found something here you could use, and good luck :-)
Varied on each!
A ton of ground work! LOL! To be honest that is where I have the best success. I work mostly on the ground for a lengthy perio of time, and by the time I start saddle work, it goes easy! When I do advance into saddle work, it starts with the blanket, ropes, and then saddle. I get mine used to different things long before putting on the saddle, then they are not as tense when its introduced. I progress through natural horsemanship techniques from various methods that work best for the horse.
I personally like starting with the young ones and taking lots of time (weanlings on). Not always has this been the case, which leads to being bucked. My biggest project was a 10yr broodmare that spent her life on pasture. When it came time to get into saddle work, things went very well until working on the various gates. On her first lope under saddle I think I miss cued her and she went into a full on buck. After fracturing some ribs and recovering, we got right back to it and she came through just fine! Of course I like challenges, and she didnt disappoint me at all!
wow thanks everyone for all the advice! I got some really good ideas and stuff to work on...
Putting things in their stall with them works wonders. (Obviously as long as it is a safe item). If there is a particular item them are afraid of putting in near their feed tub works well, or possibly even feeding them off of it...
We got them used to common items they may see later on, such as bikes. It's easier as a weanling/yearling to despook them than a full grown adult horse.
Also getting them off the property to a show grounds is a wonderful idea.
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