Up to this point, all of the horses here in Tasmania, Australia have worn the Parelli Bareback Pad. Now they are at the point where it doesn’t bother them anymore, so today I moved on and introduced them to a good ol’ western saddle (back-cinch and all). One mare has already been ridden in it multiple times, but today one of the owners of the horses came out and took pictures, so I thought I’d share their first experiences with you.
Every horse has their own way of processing their first saddling experience. When I saddle a horse for the first time, the session involves being saddled twice. This way, the horse smells the saddle and pad before getting it put on, experiences it on their back (bucks), comes back down off the adrenaline (then I take the saddle off), are given a chance to smell the saddle on the ground again, and are then given a “second chance” to process a full saddling from beginning to end.
The second time around, the horses either don’t buck at all or very little in comparison to their first round. This is why I saddle twice – it gives them the chance to experience everything with a different understanding. Then I let them think about it for a while.
So, Pearl gave us a great rodeo show the first time around and was very tense and reactive about being cinched. Here she is after her first saddling;
It generally takes Pearl a while to come off of adrenaline – instead of responding to a situation, she reacts. This is getting better every day. After a while of playing around, she was calm about wearing a back-cinch.
Ty, the 2-year-old gelding, also gave us a good bucking show – often elevating completely off the ground with all four feet. No problemo. What I liked about him, was his genuine and thorough curiosity about the saddle. When he was given the chance to smell it (on all occasions) he thoroughly explored the entire saddle and pad, slowly and deliberately. I really liked seeing this, as the other horses simply gave it a quick sniff or tried to paw it.
After a few minutes, it was a different story.
Gold, my next victim, is one of my favorite horses here. She is very smart, talented and athletic. Although she can be skeptical or unsure of what you are asking (she is becoming more confident every day), she will still do whatever you ask. This shows me what a strong heart she has and how trusting she can be. I don’t want to ruin that! My goal is to keep her sensitivity and trust intact.
Gold is new to the human world and fairly new to the “parelli/natural horsemanship world”, but even so… she can jump a single barrel. Even after being saddled for the first time! Go Gold!
Stay tuned for more of my Tasmanian adventures!