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Franklin Levinson's

Horse Help Center

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Problems saddling

Dear Franklin,

I have recently had the privelege of getting my own horse. Her name is Dancing Cloud and is a beatiful 13yo TBx. She is lovely to ride and will do anything for you. However for some reason she doesn't like standing still when I'm doing things on the ground. Also she has now started getting upset when it comes to putting on her saddle. She swings her back end towards me and tries to bite. I was wondering if you could give me advice on what I'm doing wrong.

Thank you, Zoe

Dear Zoe,

Thanks for your question. Horses that are nervous on the ground were probably not handled a great deal on the ground or perhaps have been abused or made to feel fearful by someone handling them on the ground. If the horse is expecting pain when being ridden, this will make her not want to be saddled. Check saddle fit very carefully as well as any possibility of dental issues. Any pain will cause the behavior you are experiencing. Only getting rid of the pain and then a period of rehabilitation so the horse can discover it is no longer going to experience the pain is athe course of action in that situation. However, other things may be causing this. If there is no pain involved, the horse may be be enjoying the experience of having you ride her. Are you schooling and working her or riding out on trails? If she is unhappy about the workouts, this will prompt the behavior. If your time with ehr does not end up well (on a positive note) this can cause the behavior.

This is a reaction/ response to something going on for and with the horse that is beign overlooked somehow. You could try providing a consequence for the nervous behavior. Get good at asking for a hind-quarter yield from the ground and getting it easily is a reasonable consequence you can ask of the horse for unwanted bahvior. Several rotations in both directions then offering a HO! as a little break and reward is what the process looks like. Asking for appropriate movement to bring the horse's attention back on you is a valid and effective way of modifying a horse's behavior quickly. I would not attempt to restrain the horse or hold it tight. Rather, allow it to move and only guide the direction of the movement (around you). This way you are leading the dance and allowing the horse to move. It will want to stop eventually I promise. Then attempt to do what you want. If it still moves, let it. Repeat the process as much and as many times as needed until the horse is happy to stand still for a while. Be patient and consistent. Your effort will be rewarded.

Sincerely, Franklin

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