I couldn't wait to tell you, but Ike had his first saddling just yesterday. I'm guilty of not working with my horse every couple days at least so I was anxious to see how he would handle the introduction of the saddle. The last time I worked with him I introduced the saddle pad, and from his initial reaction to that I figured the saddle would be like a big grizzly bear to him.
I do recommend doing a couple of sessions with just the saddle pad to get him used to something being placed on his back. Unfortunately I didn't do another session with just the pad so I skipped straight into the saddle. I caught Ike up and took him to the round pen where I already had all my tack. He sniffed everything but seemed just fine with it. So to test his trust in me, I skipped the initial lunging and went straight into working on the saddle.
First I used the saddle pad to see how he reacted to it since it'd been awhile since our last session. He was perfect. Stood there like a gentleman and didn't even flinch. So I set the pad down and grabbed the saddle. I like to leave the pad out of the first intro because it could always fall off and cause the horse to spook, and right now we just want him to get used to the saddle itself. I let him sniff it a few times until he seems calm enough to let me attempt putting it on his back. If the horse if very cautious and sensitive about the saddle I use my introduce and retreat method until he's calm, and then I keep working closer and closer until we get to where the saddle is on his back.
Because I had used a surcingle during lunging sessions to get him used to the feel of a cinch I wasn't too concerned. But I was still very quiet, slow and gentle with the process.
Its a key thing to make the first introductions of new things as best as possible and not get your horse upset. If he has a bad experience, well, he wont forget it and it could affect how training goes further down
the road too.
Ike did so great with the front cinch and was standing calm I went ahead and did the back cinch. The back cinch isn't necessary with the first saddling and sometimes is best to take off and just do the front on for now... especially if your horse is very sensitive at first. It might be best to add that on later. He did great with the back cinch also.
Once the saddle was on good enough for my liking, I unclipped the lead rope and asked him to walk off. Be careful because some horses will take off and buck the minute they take a step and realize there's something on his back. This is was I expected because he stood so good while I put it on, I figured the minute he moved he'd get spooked and take off. I unclip the lead rope so that if he would buck or run off he can get away from ME and then I'm a safe distance from him while he "WORKS IT OUT" and I wont get hurt. Then I can be the rescuer and comforter when he calms down and I can walk back up to him.
Well, the opposite of that is how Ike was. I asked him to walk off and he did so nice and calmly. I only had him walk so he got used to the saddle. I then had him change direction and walk the other way. Once he did that I asked for a trot and he did great. So I had him reverse direction again and trot. The only time he spooked and sped up a little was when a stirrup hit the panel since he got to close to it.
It was already a hot day so I decided to spray him off too. He hadn't ever been sprayed down with a hose so this was another learning experience for him. After dancing around a little from the cold water on his legs, he stood perfectly still for me while I wetted the rest of his body down. I think he figured out that it was a good thing to get wet on a hot day. I also caught up Tex and sprayed him down too. They were both pretty thankful for it.
Since my horses don't roll right away when they get wet I also spray them down with fly spray. Which I recommend whether they roll or not so the fly's don't but them so badly with the water on them.
I was extremely pleased about our session with his first saddling. I look forward to the next session to get him into a lope and depending on how he does I may start introducing my body weight in the stirrup too!! How exciting is that?!!
Did you get your horse saddled for the first time? I hope you have just as good of luck with your horse as I did with Ike! If you have any questions at all or comments about the first saddling session I would love to answer them and get back to you. If your session didn't go as well I can try to help you out, as well.
If you happen to live around the Kearney/Central Nebraska area and want some help with your horse at all I can always pay a visit to your place for a lesson and to help you out one on one!
Next time I hope to talk to you about our second saddling, first bridling and groundwork while saddled!!
Good luck with your training, and until next time...