saddling accident

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saddling accident

Post by Admin on Fri Feb 19, 2010 9:45 am

Dear Panel: I have a 2 year old colt that I'm not riding yet, but have been saddling him and walking with him. I saddled him a couple weeks ago and did the breastcollar first. (I know, I know. Don't bother yelling at me about it, I know it was stupid) The breastcollar I was using doesn't have a snap to attach to the girth, the girth threads through the strap like an english girth, so I had to buckle it on first. When I was reaching under him to thread the girth, he turned around and bit my head, knocking off my hat. I stood up and reflexively swatted him with my hat. He backed up, the saddle slid off to the side and then to the ground, hanging off his neck by the breastcollar. Well, after several minutes of squealing, running, bucking and rearing, he got the whole thing off of his neck, but then it got caught on the lead rope and was "chasing" him. He ran into the garage and knocked over a bucket of soapy water, slid into the fridge, bounced back into the car and dented it in three places. The saddle got caught under the front right tire as he ran around the front of the car and got stuck. My husband got him unhooked and got him to the paddock but the damage was done. Not only to the car, but to the colt. He now is (understandably) petrified of the saddle. It's been two weeks and I've tried advance/retreat with him -I understand the concept very well and have done it correctly (thanks Ed), but am getting nowhere. He literally cannot tolerate the saddle being near him. He breaks away from me and runs like a bat out of hell. Have I ruined him forever? I'm beginning to think I'll never get the saddle on him ever again. I tried putting an old saddle in the paddock with him so he could get used to it, but he just beat the snot out of it and got me no further towards him feeling friendly about it. I'm so disgusted with myself over this and don't know what to try next. Should I give him a break from it for a while and start over in a couple months or so, or just keep on keeping on and eventually he'll get over it?

thanks, Tracey

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Join date : 2010-02-15
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Re: saddling accident

Post by Paul Williamson on Sat Feb 20, 2010 3:04 pm

PAUL- Hiya, I know you are already paying the price for the swat with the hat and I promise not to yell at you but for future reference there are some things to keep in mind when working with young horses, I'm sure others out there will benefit from the reminder as well so here goes.

a) have the right gear before even attempting to saddle a starter, this would not have happened if you had the snap type breastcollar, for example.

b) when tacking up a starter, never take them for granted and think they will stand there perfectly even if they're quiet. Anything can happen so you have to be both quicker and smarter than your youngster, e.g. have the lead over a rail or use a rubber tie and have him tied up in a secure area where he can't hurt himself so that you can control his head and body while saddling. There was too much slack if he was able to reach around to bite and ultimately, to bolt and hurt himself. You can't take any horse for granted, not even the friendly ones so keep your guard at all times and secure your surroundings. You probably figured out by now that it's best to have them in some kind of enclosure, especially if you would rather not tie him up anywhere. I would like to add here that I, myself, only ever tie a horse in rubber bungies for safety. I could resort to run a lead through a ring or around a rail so I could let go if something happened but I would rather not have any loose bits flailing around a horse so I like to make sure there's nothing that can get caught anywhere. While it's very important to desensitize a horse, it's even more important to protect him from injuries. Desensitizing can also be done without exposing the horse to the risk of injury.

c) when putting gear on a young horse or new starter, you do it like the bomb squad trying to de-fuse a bomb, which means no sudden movements until the girth is secure because what you experienced is the last thing you want to happen to a starter. Like I pointed out before, you cannot assume anything with horses, especially not the young ones.

As for your next steps, the damage has been done and it will take a while for this colt to trust a saddle again so start from scratch, which is the saddle cloth only, and progress from there. After the saddle cloth I would just use a surcingle or roller and get him used to that, then a small saddle or pad and clear one step at a time. Also, give him grass or treats each time you put gear on and make it a happy experience from here on. If he was my horse, I would stick to exercises he knows and does with confidence for a while to help him regain his confidence in the things you present him with before you show hi the saddle again. When he seems happy and content to you, I would give him a good, long spell before starting him from step one again - as if he was never started before. He will let you know when he's ready.

Best of luck, Trace.

Paul Williamson

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