horse scared of saddle
We bought this horse from an auction on June 6th.Thought he was 3 but when we had the vet was out for shots found out he was 6.I was contacted by someone that told me he came from an abusive home, he was thin also.We put some weight on him even in a few short weeks.He seems to want to please but when you come near him with the saddle it freaks him OUT!The blanket isnt as scarey but he doesnt like that either.
My husband works for hours in the RP with him, and finally he can get it on, but only when hes worn out pretty much, hes even ridden him after and he does OK.Then taking the saddle off is another big scare.Today was pretty bad, he took off after a saddle on the back attempt then ran over the saddle getting it caught on his front leg cutting himself pretty good.
So AFTER all that drama managed to wrap his leg etc, which he didnt want any part of. Any advise or any approach to this scarey saddle issues would be appreciated.I hate to think what may have been done to him before, I know he has potential.
I'm thinking approach and retreat would be effective. Maybe work him a little in a round pen or something to get the extra energy out. Then put him somewhere quiet but not where he's boxed in. Start with the saddle pad and just move it around near him without touching him. I'm guessing he'll move around like a nervous jitterbug. Keep the pad near him until he relaxes. It might take 20 seconds or 20 minutes, but don't take the pad away until he relaxes or else you'll reward him for being nervous. The second you see him relaxing (licking lips, lowered head, etc) take the pad away. Wait a few seconds and bring it back toward him. Do this until he stays relaxed and then ramp it up to touching him with the pad, then placing it on his back, etc. Make sure you retreat with the pad every time he stands relaxed. Once you've had success with the pad, move onto the saddle. I'm sure you get the idea. Good luck.
(this is a Clinton Anderson method by the way to credit the appropriate source)
If you are looking for a quicker fix I would agree with using Clinton Andersons method. If you keep going at him with it until he relaxes then take it away, eventually he will realize it isn't going to hurt him.
I would be carefull though, if it is true that he was abused in the past you want to understand that it could take a lot of consistant time. He will probably react scared very badly for a long time because of the abuse. DO NOT baby him. If you give him leeway because of past abuse he will NEVER get better. Do as much sensatizing and de-sensatizing as you can. It may be hard to keep at it but it is well worth it.
The only other thing you can do is get a trainer that knows how to handle this type of problem.
Good luck and hope everything works out for both of you.
It may make no difference but is it an english or western saddle? Western saddles usually have lots of straps and accesories hanging from them and that alone can make a green horse spooky.
Is he fine with just the pad? If so, grab yourself a cheap english saddle, pull the stirrups and the girth off and gently toss that bad boy up there. See if that doesnt make a difference.
I love the idea of approach/retreat with him but I would keep taking it to the next level. Once you get that saddle on him, give him lots of praise (and even a cookie) and take it gently off. Then go right back to it. Put it on, ask him to take one step forward and stand for say 5 seconds. Repeat cookie and praise and then take it off.
How does he tie? Does he stand patiently? If so, approach with the saddle...when you get a reaction out of him, stand your ground. When he stops reacting, take it away and give him praise. Keep going until you can stand next to him with it.
Will he allow you to 'show' him the saddle? Let him have a good sniff of it...let him really eye it up. Maybe even put it on the stall door or over a RP panel. It sounds like he is truely scared of it...you have to show him its not a predator.
Go at any of these projects like you have all day to do it. Stay calm even when he isnt.
Theres a few ideas for you. Keep trying and be patient. When your patience runs out, consider a trainer.
thanks for the advice!
I love Clinton Anderson too!
Hes ok with the pad now, hubby can take that on and off pretty easily.
The saddle is another story, I held him while he went in circles trying to get away, too scarey for ME.I've been sick so hubby tries by himself now.Its a big ol' western saddle.He could get it on in a fairly short time but his shoulder got sore having the sadddle thrown up there(on shoulder)he has to now reach for it off the ground and try to keep him steady, no place to tie him in the roundpen, he'd tear the panels apart getting away from the saddle.
We do have an old synthetic one we dont use that is lighter we could take the straps off of.Thats a really great idea.My husband is real consistent and not abusive.Lowd but patient hehehe.We feel we owe this horse every chance possible since we chose to save him at the auction.
Thank you everyone!!!!
Sounds like you guys did a real good thing saving him. If your hubs is as consistant and easy going as mine (they dont have a choice...they're married to horse people!) he will come around in time. That synthetic might help alot. Save the hubbys shoulder, help him get used to it all at the same time! Good luck and keep us posted!
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