Exploring The Saddle and Pad
I gave Wiley plenty of time to get comfortable with the tack before putting it on his back. A few carrots placed strategically around the saddle and pad ensured some good interaction. After a lot of sniffing, Wiley was comfortable with the smell and sound each item made. Now he is ready to try a western saddle on for the first time. He has worn a surcingle before, so he is used to the feel of the girth. I didn’t expect fireworks.
I’m A Big Horse Now
I placed the saddle pad on Wiley’s back and rewarded him for standing quietly. I repeated the process a few times until I could toss it up there from either side with no issues. Time to move to the saddle. I gently put the saddle on his back and again rewarded him. I removed it and put it back on a few times until he was completely comfortable with the process. The cinch was easy since Wiley was used to the surcingle. Now he is all tacked up and ready for his first lunging session!
I have previously worked Wiley with various things tied to his surcingle to get him used to movement and noise on his back (from ropes to my windbreaker). He did respond to some of the items – a buck or two and even reaching around to bite them, but he is pretty used to “stuff” by now. It is time to see if all the prep paid off. And….Wiley was picture perfect for the walk, trot and canter in both directions. What a good boy! I will continue this work for a few sessions. I like to keep the first few sessions really short. I want Wiley to know that I will take the saddle off his back before he gets the idea to take it off himself!
Since Wiley is only 2, I won’t be riding him anytime soon, but I may back him for a few days to get him used to the idea before he gets too big. He is already at least 16.1 and growing!
You’re a little bit ahead of me on this. Surf longes, drives, etc.. I haven’t put a flapping saddle with stirrups on her, yet, and never thought to do the windbreaker…could ideas! She thinks that the girth part of the surcingle is uncomfortable…I think that she has thin skin, and that the webbing may be a bit irritating (although no marks have been left on her).