Posted: Sun Dec 12, 2004 11:54 pm Post subject: Tacking Up
Hi there I have an 7 year old arabian named boomer and I am having some difficulties with him. My problem is that he hates to have his saddle put on! I have had the saddle checked by the trainer I purchased him from and she says that the saddle fit is good. The really strange part is that he gets all excited (not in a good way) from the time I approach him with the blanket til I get the saddle girth done up. It seems that it doesn't matter what you try to put on him whether it is a turnout blanket or anything he gets excited and starts stepping up and back in the crossties. However when we go back and take everything off he stand completely still. I know that when I first got him he had some issues with his back etc. being out and I have since had these corrected. So I am at a loss as to what I should do with him. I have tried positive and negative reinforcement but he doesn't seem to care. I also have problems getting him to stand still to be mounted. I have tried walking around with him out in the arena (to the point that everyone at my barn thinks i'm a big chicken for not getting on him) and asking him to stand and he will listen no problem. But as soon as I put the reins up and he thinks I am truly going to mount he will shift his bum away. I then do small left handed circles and then try to get him to stand again and this will work (sometimes). I then can lay across the saddle without any reaction from him at all. But as soon as I try to swing my leg up he gets a little fussy. I have ridden him after my instructer got on him a few times and he stood then but I wonder is he just evading or maybe remembering a bad previous experience or what?
I am afraid that I don't have a very detailed response for you; there are many, many factors that could be causing a horse to be upset about his saddle. The primary one, however, is saddle fit. A trainer is not the same as a certified saddle fitter. I recommend that you try to find a saddle fitter to get a professional opinion.
I would also suggest that you take a look at my book (you can find it by clicking "Saddle Fitting Book" in the sidebar)--there is an incredible amount of information in there about saddles, how they should fit, and how to evaluate the ones you have. There are a hundred reasons why a saddle might make a horse nervous. For example, sometimes the saddle ought to fit, but the flocking is old/compressed/lumpy; the lumps create pressure points, making the horse uncomfortable. There is so much more information in there than I could fit in my website.
If you can completely rule out saddle fit problems, then there is something else going on. Even if you have had back issues corrected, you may want to get another checkup. It may help to have an equine massage therapist look him over, if you haven't already. Equine massage therapists will look for different sorts of issues than vets or chiropractors.
Good luck working through this. From what you say, it sounds like your horse is very distressed about *some* thing. Sometimes it just takes a lot of looking to find out what it is.