Consider the Following...?! help!
Meet Consider the Following (aka, Cappy):
Cappy is a 4 1/2 year old Paint mare. Inside and out, she is a beautiful horse with a lot to offer. She stands at about 14'2", and with her tobiano coat, she is one of the prettiest ponies in our barn! I believe she has some Welsh heritage, because of her confirmation, but there's no way to be sure. Her papers were burned in a barn fire - I live in California, and last year we had some pretty huge wildfires! - and there's no way to get ahold of her previous owners. Cappy arrived at my barn about a year and a half ago, with a 13 year old girl who had been leasing her for three months previous. According to the girl, Cappy had been a wonderful jumper and a great dressage prospect. Now, the girl is interested in switching to western riding. About a week ago the girl attempted to introduce Cappy to a western saddle, and just as she was putting it on the mare's back, Cappy freaked. She crow-hopped and bolted, and it took us about an hour to calm her and safely return her to her stall. We believe that she had some traumatic issues with western in the past, and now, whenever a western saddle is even in sight, she puts up a fuss and we are worried that someday she will hurt herself.
Is this mare hopeless when it comes to western riding? Or is there another gentler, easy way to introduce her?
We've calmed her down using aromatherapy and oils, and have also brought in an english saddle as well as the western one. Its no good. I've tried holding her still and talking quietly to her as the girl brings forth the western saddle, but that doesn't work, either. We've even tried using my own horse, Cody, who has been a western trail horse all his life, in the introduction process, but nothing gives.
NOTE: I am leaving town next month and I'd like to help this thirteen year old girl as best I can before I go! (I will be returning, but not for several months)
That's interesting. I don't understand why the type of saddle would matter. The western saddle might look bulkier and may be heavier but maybe it was a trauma issue.
Place the saddle in front of the horses stall where it can see it all the time. Not in the stall or on the stall but in front. Work on getting her used to being around the saddle might help.
Looking forward to hearing what other's think.
Maybe she hasn't been introduced to a western saddle, and her first experience was the girl throwing that terrifying monster of a saddle on her back?
I don't want to make it seem like it was yours, or the girls fault, it's just a possibility. I really like Solon's idea of putting a western saddle outside her stall so she sees it all the time. If you can get her to walk past it fine, then you can start bringing it closer. Is she fed grain? Maybe you can give her her grain in a rubber bucket on the ground, and bring it closer and closer to the saddle, and work at getting it inside the curve. Make sure you pull her away before she has a chance to panic, and if she starts to stress, give her a few minutes to graze before going at it again. It's also a good idea to keep her moving, instead of just letting her sit, stare, and sniff at the offending object. That will just give her time to think about it. Giving her a job will keep her focused.
My brother uses that method. I let him borrow my Hereford saddle and he has it sitting on the fence during the day close to where the horses eat. It didn't take more than a few hours before they actually where coming up and nosing at it.
When he went to put it on the first time they didn't shy away. Now, they did buck but that's a whole other thing!
Just as she was putting the saddle on....does this mean the saddle was cinched up? Or the saddle was just being placed on the horse's back, not cinched yet?
If it was cinched up....was a back cinch used too? This can cause your problem.
Also...if the western saddle doesn't fit properly and pinches the withers, this will cause the same issues, too.
The saddle was not cinched at any time. We'll check to see that the saddle fits right; thanks!
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