Horsey Therapist

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Riza wears a saddle

A first for today. Riza and a saddle.

Her preparation for this non-event has been lessons in leading, lunging/circling with one long line, ground driving with two lines, wearing a vaulting surcingle at the walk and trot. Not often for any of these. Like, once or twice. Well, the initial leading lessons were time consuming, until she got it.

I have some clear expectations of my space/boundaries when leading a horse. Riza had been led to expect (no pun intended) that people like her to be close, very, very close, and that she can make the decision to come close whenever it suits her.

For my sense of safety I have a different expectation. Horse may come close when I invite or allow. I may come close to horse when I want, and I will wait for permission to approach is given, unless it's an urgent situation then I break rules left and right.

After trimming and riding Kacee (recycling trip to town today), and trimming and grooming Rusty, I turned them out with Riza behind the barn. Hmm, a few extra minutes on my hands -- what can I do with Riza?

Saddle her!

I got out an older and inexpensive (hence I won't be upset if it gets trashed) close contact saddle -- lightweight for my shoulder's sake -- and brought it outside where the three horses were munching hay. I asked if I could approach, permission granted, and she sniffed the saddle. I lifted it over her back and set it there, still holding it. She walked off and I took a few steps with her as I lifted the saddle off her as she left.

She stopped, I approached again, and we did the same, except this time, holding the saddle, I let it slide off her rump as she left.

She stopped, I approached again, and she stood as I placed the saddle on her back briefly, then removed it and I walked off first. To the barn to get a girth.

Have I mentioned lately how accepting and calm this horse is?

Did I mention I intentionally chose to do this without a halter and lead? I wanted her to really know she could leave if she didn't want to do this with me today.

So I put the saddle on her again and she resumes eating hay while I go back and forth from side to side getting the girth set up. For a shorter horse, she has a deep chest and I first miscalculated, putting the girth up too high on the off side. Then I girthed it up, tightened it another hole, and walked off. In fact I came inside for about 10 minutes.

When I returned, with camera in hand, she was just as mellow as before, had moved to another spot for more hay munching, and stood calmly while I removed the saddle after taking pictures.

I usually start out with my western saddle but with my shoulder still hurting (interrupted the healing while stacking hay last week), I decided to build her confidence in the saddling process with a light weight saddle. Eventually she'll carry the weight and bulk and dangling stuff, but not until I am certain she will accept it like she accepted the english saddle today.

Anyway -- ho-hum -- here is Riza wearing a saddle for the first time.


At 26 July, 2008 20:39, Blogger billie said...

I really love that you're doing this without tying her.

We do most things with the horses at liberty these days, partly for convenience, and partly because I like them to have some choice in the matter.

It's amazing to me that most of the time all of ours choose to stand while we groom, tack up, clean hooves, bathe, etc.

What a great photo - her first time under saddle and she is free and so very calm!

At 27 July, 2008 09:15, Blogger LJB said...

Thanks, Billie. I wonder how things would be with our other horses if I'd started them all with what I know today. They can do things without tack, however to have a foundation built on this feeling of calmness, understanding, and choice without pressure, well, I believe it would be different.


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