Starting Under Saddle

That is a GOOD thing!!! I find I don’t get the bolt in my own horses that I have raised all the way, but I see it quite a bit in other horses. My more modern mare tends to think about leaving when worried and I have had to work with her about it. My baroque mare thinks that could be a lot of energy wasted.

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This./\ OP, the girth area swelling is really weird. Could she have had a reaction to something you cleaned the girth with? I’ve never had a horse swell in the girth area but had someone use a crusty western girth on a horse and it caused chaffing. No swelling tho. Maybe get a new soft girth and also use a sheepskin cover if necessary?

OP, what did you do with her and for how long before leading up to getting on her back? The mare needs to be completely bomb proof and unflappable in all ground work and for all riderless but saddled work before starting under saddle. Create a set by step plan. Start at the bottom. First, you absolutely need a round pen, even just one made of t-posts, t-post covers for protection, and fence tape. This should be a fun and positive bonding and confidence experience for both of you.

Teach her to sack out or desensitize to every item, noisy, light weight and heavy stimuli you can think of, but to remain relaxed and not move. Saddle pads, lead rope, lunge line, various saddles, tarps, bags, umbrellas, you name it. Pool noodle toys are very handy for this kind of thing. Move on to lunging her in a small circle while stroking her body all over with a noodle toy and other items. Eventually move on to applying a surcingle and tying things on it, starting with something small, not scary and doesn’t move much, them move up to things that bounce and flap around, then lead her around. Eventually move on to lunging. Lead up to something with some weight that will move around. Noisy grain bags with some rocks tied on with twine, laundry jugs filled with some sand. Do the same with her saddled. Tie things on the saddle or put your surcingle over the saddle and us the rings. Start with small items and move up.

Longline, longline, longline. I can’t say enough good things about it.

You should also be unflappable in all of this. You should be calm, enjoy the bonding and enjoy her success at each step. Nothing here should be at all unruffling for a rider. If it is, then you lack the confidence to be riding her.

Once your mare is unflappable to all of that, moving on to riding should be an easy transition.

OP, you said she stands still at the mounting block. Is she good at it on both sides? It could be that she is accustomed to seeing you up there in the left eye but is not the other? Can you mount from both sides? Have you mounted her from the fence? I pony mine off the dam when they are babies. Working with them from above makes a big difference IMHO. It could be that she is just barely holding it together being because she has a person beside her reassuring and directing her (while the both of you are scared). If you have not ponied before, nope, leave that to a pro.

Does she have a solid turn on the forehand? Easily taught on the ground and a great tool to get her past the spooky things without bolting. If their mind is truly on their job, and their legs are being directed, you become way more significant than a blowing plastic bag or umbrella.

Where are your vet and farrier in all this? Certainly they know some trainers. One of the biggest dressage barns in Calif. sends their colts to a cutting trainer friend. Lastly I caution you against experimenting with sacking out (which should only be done in hand) unless you have impeccable timing.

Beautiful horse!

Remember the night and blackperzl,

Yes I know Ruth well as that is where I purchased both of my Friesians from as foals. Also done keurings and clinics and lots of visits there. We are 6 hours from her so her location to training is awesome compared to mine.

She is Doaitsen and dam sire is Teade…explains her energy but not her big baroque style.

I think the thread got mis interpreted. She is 5 years old and is being started like most people start a 3 year old. She has not been “in training” to ride for 3 years. She wore a saddle as a 2 year old then no other specific riding training. She is not bucking. She loves to buck out playing on her own. I guess I should have left that out because people assume I have a bucking horse .

People that know me as a rider do not think I’m over horsed and if I thought I was I would wait till I can send her to a trainer away from here. I’m not at that point.

Yes, what wren said. She is sensitive and picks up on emotions. I will remind myself to relax all parts of my body.

She is not a jumpy nervous horse. Just nervous with a rider because it is super new to her. Being that tall not much is usually above her. We had 1 ride that she was getting scared and wanted to run. She is not constantly running off . Not a monster or a problem as both my horses were referred to.

In retrospect I should have worded this differently. Like “what do you all do to start your horses under saddle ?”

Brown Derby and Color of light and RTF

Thank you for the ideas and reminders. Yes she can turn on the forehand and turn on the haunches. When she was a yearling I did tons of Buck Branaman style ground work with her.

I will teach her to stand at the mounting block at her right side. I have not done that. This spring I started lunging her with the saddle and bridle, worked on left right and stop with the reins from the ground. Then got her used to stopping at the mounting block and let me lean on the saddle. Then we moved on with mounting and leadline. I will go back and find holes in all our groundwork and work on them.

I have and can pony off my quarter horse. I will add that to the list.

I have not 2 lined long lined her but am capable . Nothing on the ground tests my confidence. I was long lining horses forever as a working student when I was young. Ironically I was the one the trainer would throw on top of all the babies. I have recently done this with my quarter horse and my son’s large pony.

I will desensitize her more. Building slowly. I dont tip toe around her but there is certainly more I can expose her to.

Thank you for taking the time to be helpful!

Oh I see a lot of Teade in her! I do know a couple of Doaitsen kids that have had a buck and bolt in them. I believe they came around pretty quickly with consistent work. Good call to review your groundwork for any gaps in training. Be safe!

Hey GF, you have gotten a lot of good suggestions so far. I just wanted to add a couple of things.

  1. Train her on your timeline, not anyone else’s. My Belgian Sporthorse is coming 7 this year and still green. Doesn’t bother me at all, don’t care what others think. He had some growing “pains” years 3-5 and then I had time issues last year. I did at least haul him to some other arenas and such but no shows yet. This year he is wonderful to ride with no buck, no bolt.

  2. Really dive into the whole saddle fit thing. The saddle I was riding in was adequate but far from perfect. The saddle I just ordered, based on a slightly narrower demo, is going to be da bomb. He hasn’t bucked once since I started riding him in the demo saddle, even on the lunge; whereas normally, he has to have one good bucking episode as he steps into canter the first time (then he’s good.) In fact, last night, I hopped on him with no lunging, no ground work and went for a lovely ride out through the hay fields with my nutty dog. Absolutely zero drama.

I guess I should add that, I have owned this horse since he was coming 2 and I have been his sole trainer from the start. When I got him, he had a nasty habit of kicking and striking when things didn’t go his way (sweet horse, but a bit of a spoiled bully when I bought him.) He could also buck like a proper rodeo horse on the lunge–not so much under saddle, thankfully–and was powerful enough to almost rip the line from my hands. More than once I have gone skiing across the arena as he’d try to bolt away.:lol: Patience, perseverance and many years of experience with rehabs and youngsters, however, have turned this guy into a heck of a fun ride and a real puppy dog to handle from the ground.

Hang in there, you’ll be fine. :slight_smile:

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This brings up a question: If a person doesn’t know how to desensitize a horse or if they don’t have impeccable timing, are they going to have the impeccable timing skills it takes to correctly back a horse?

Desensitizing to stimuli is a beginning step of backing a horse. Even if it’s just a rope, saddle pad, saddle and teaching mounting, it is still all desensitizing or sacking out. It’s impossible to back a horse if the horse was not desensitized to tack and mounting first, unless you want bucking and bolting. Tarp, pool toys, whips, bags…are all just different items. The process of introducing them is all the same.

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I totally agree, Color of Light. I added the caveat which you highlighted because there many versions of sacking out. We got in a POA who had been tied, blindfolded, and then ‘swept’ all over with a kitchen broom. Apparently the owner got it off a video on ‘sacking out.’. Needless to say created a disaster (one of many) which is why we got him. So, just a CYA because we have no idea of OP’s skills. I can guarantee you there are still people out there who ‘sack out’ by snubbing them to a pole and let the wreck or broken neck begin.

Densenitizing (much better term, thank you) is actually pretty fun. Trouble starts when one removes the stimulus before the horse stops reacting to it–and that takes timing.

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That poor little POA must have been terrified! He must have been so happy you saved him from The Sweeper. I think desensitizing is fun, too! I love that moment when the horse realizes it’s ok and that they are safe!

Speaking of desensitizing, I was recently doing a project and wearing one of those white Tyvek full piece suits, including a hood and a head light (off). It was time to feed, so walked out into the first pasture. :lol: First horse came up two feet from me, I moved, my suit rustled, he spun around but only retreated 5 feet. Turned around, came back. I moved, repeat. He never went far. Eventually, he ate from my hand, I hugged him, and all was good. His pasture buddy remained about 100 feet away.

Next I moved on to a pasture of multiple horses. The hottest tempered and jumpiest horse, who is at the bottom of the herd, was the first one that came up to me, as the others all ran away. She barely blinked at my suit. The others slowly came up, I fed them, stepped back and my suit made noise. They flew! Hot jumpy mama barely moved, so I hugged her as the others watched on. The big top horse tried to come up to me, hot jumpy mama bit her to keep her away, keeping The Human Q-Tip all to herself. :smiley: The others eventually came back, the big one staring at me in disbelief of my Human Q-Tip-ness, as I rubbed her head and then hugged her. Some of the others really couldn’t care less. They ran because head honcho said “run!”. It’s not a particularly noisy suit, but deliberately making noise certainly bugged them all to various degrees.

In general, horses in stalls were less reactive to my suit than those in pasture in a herd environment.

After that experience, I’m definitely adding a Tyvek suit to my repertoire of desensitizing paraphernalia! :yes: I highly recommend. Just don’t wear much clothing if you’re wearing one on a warm day. It gets very warm inside because it’s not very breathable.


What Alibi said, 10x over.

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