Last May I round penned Mission to a successful join-up, but I didn’t put a saddle on. Mission is now two years and four months old. He seems physically immature for his age, but he is still a stallion and starting to act like one so I decided to continue training to teach him how a polite horse acts around humans.
The above picture shows his first reaction to a saddle. This is very normal. You can imagine how scary it is to have that floppy thingy stuck on your back. It takes a little getting used to. I think every horse I ever saddled for the first time bucks usually violently except for two recent horses, Sophie and Rocky. After a hundred horses that always bucked this seems unusual. Or maybe I’m getting better at encouraging horses to be calm.
Sometimes I forget to talk to a horse. When the wildness increases I remember. The good book says “Say to the mountain be removed and cast into the sea and if you have faith it will do as you say.” I have never tried to tell any mountains to do anything, but anyway it seems to me much easier to talk to a horse than a mountain. Although I’m assuming that the horse doesn’t understand human lingo any better than a mountain. The amazing thing is that the horse usually does do what I say, but maybe I have more faith in the horse’s savvy than a deaf and dumb mountain.
After round penning for a few minutes, I asked him to stand with no restraint for the blanket and saddle. I walked toward him with a saddle and as I put it on his back he ran off. I encouraged him to leave by making the kiss sound. He did this several times until I remembered to talk to him. I told him what a great horse I think he is. I told him that carrying a saddle was just part of being a horse. He stood quietly and even allowed me to pull the cinch up tight
After few a minutes of standing, he started to get worried about it. He swayed back and forth (a Colts prelude to bucking), then he burst into a high, elegant fit of bucking. The saddle stuck although the blanket slipped back a bit. I encouraged him to move and buck as much as he wanted by making the kiss sound. Gradually he began to relax, first to a flat canter, then to a trot. At my cue, he stopped and walked up to me. I praised and petted him while I took the saddle off.
I repeated the saddling exercise two more times. The second time he bucked a little. The third time he did not buck at all.