The weather was perfect this weekend for playing with the ponies at the rescue. I spent quite a bit of time on Saturday working with Tex, one of our two year old ponies. He’s friendly and halter-broke, but really hasn’t had a whole lot of training.
Tex was absolutely TERRIFIED of people when we first started working with him at the end of last year. However, he’s turned into quite a goof ball and a total attention hog. He’s quite a quick learner, especially when clicker training and treats are involved. This weekend I introduced him to saddle blankets, a bareback pad, an English saddle and the little two horse trailer.
We started out by playing some with saddle blankets, saddle pads and a bareback pad. He wasn’t sure at first that he wanted ANYTHING to do with a big old saddle pad. However, after letting me rub it on his shoulder and barrel a few times, he decided it wasn’t so bad after all. And a few minutes later he was letting me flap and wave that horse-eating saddle blanket back and forth over his back.
Once he was thoroughly bored with the antics of the saddle blanket, I practiced some wrapping a rope around his belly and tightening it. This helped him get comfortable with what the cinch on the saddle would feel like wrapped around his belly. Since he wasn’t bothered by this, I went ahead and put a bareback pad on him. We walked around a bit and then switched to an English saddle. He stood outside the tack room door, calm and relaxed at liberty, while I got the saddle and then put it on him. What a brave boy!
The only problem throughout this adventure was that I couldn’t convince him to nibble on the grass long enough for me to take some decent pictures! As soon as I would get 10 feet away, he would come trotting after me.
The English saddle I put on him had no pad underneath it and no stirrups on it. I like to start out as simple as possible and then add in more bells and whistles later. Stirrups especially can be pretty scary to a young horse who is not use to having something strapped around his back. By introducing the blankets and bareback pad first and then the saddle gradually, most horses take everything in stride and whole affair is no big deal.
After we were finished with the saddle, we moved on to the small dark scary steel two horse trailer. Tex has been on several rides in the rescue’s large four horse trailer. However, the scary two horse trailer is a totally different experience. It took Trixie three sessions before she was confident enough to get all the way in the scary two horse trailer. Paden and I are still working on his confidence with getting about halfway in. And you know what Tex did?
I led him up to it, planning on working on getting him to put his front feet on and off of the ramp. Instead, he didn’t stop and walked all the way up the ramp and all the way into the trailer. What a brave little pony! He is going to make an awesome riding horse and trail horse once he gets a bit older and gets a bit more training. We walked in and out a couple more times and then quit there on a good note. He had tried quite a few new things for the day and had been brave and confident about all of them. I’ll keep you updated as I continue to work with Tex this fall–If this weekend was any indication, I think we’re going to have a lot of fun!