The only saddle that has truly fit Scrappy and not slid around since I got him was a semi QH barrel skirted western saddle that I used last fall, but once he changed from round-fat to some a-frame at the wither/shoulder, that really didn’t fit anymore and this blog has borne witness to the resulting whining since. Scrappy was also broke out and ridden in his first endurance rides before I bought him in a western saddle with apparently good results. So in my elimination process I wanted to try a full QH bar saddle on him.
This morning I put a heavy leather full skirted full QH bar western saddle on him, felt like the fit seemed decent enough to try 4 or 5 miles around the neighborhood, and led him out of the cross ties. As we headed for the mounting block he did this WEIRD skittering thing with his hind end and zoomed past and around me. Now Scrappy does like to puff and blow and act a bit of a fool, mostly in hand at home, but this was a panicky/.strange reaction that I hadn’t gotten *at all* when pulling him to ride the other day after a month off. I tried walking him back past the same spot and he did the same skittering thing. Now I had also pulled his mini horse friend, cleaned him up, and then put him away, so Scrappy was somewhat high from that transaction too, so I decided I didn’t want to mount up and ride out into the neighborhood roads with him like that and a go in the round pen would settle us both down.
Send him out around the round pen and he has his back humped and zooms about as he does, he seemed head lower and more humped up than usual but wasn’t bucking or doing anything nuts, just some Arab zoomies around and around. the saddle has leather dangly strings and the whole 9 and he seemed a bit hinky about that, but it was a big change from a treeless saddle so fair enough. I had him work up a good sweat, readjusted the saddle some, sent him around again, then when he was looking soft and quiet I put my reins on, and prepared to mount. Foot in the stirrup, rise halfway up his side in process of mounting and BOOM, his head goes up and he FREAKS, backs up, starts spinning away from me, I barely get my foot free and jump down out from between him and the edge of the roun pen. Uhhhhh wtf???
When I first got him Scrappy was a little hesitant about mounting and his go-to nervous move is to back away from things but we’ve been working on it a lot and he hasn’t been even raising his head nervously, let alone backing away from mounting in a while.
My heart was pounding from this surprise reaction from him but that was obviously not okay so I sent him out again around and around til he looked soft and quiet (and dripping sweat) again. I talk to him and do my usual routine with the reins, foot in the stirrup, start to get up and BOOM he does the same thing, but this time as he spun away my foot got stuck in the stirrup and I barely managed to land on one foot, hopping with one foot stuck, still holding the reins and trying to turn his head back my way so I didn’t fall and get dragged, which meant my left shoulder about got yanked out of the socket and a nice rope burn for the hand. As my shoulder jerked my foot came out of the stirrup luckily and I fell hard on one knee.
He seemed weirded out. I was weirded out. He didn’t even want to flex his neck around AT ALL to his sides, just skitter his hind end away. Tense. Even bunny hopping next to him like you do with the rankest greenie was making him throw his head and back away and canter in panicked circles.
I didn’t know what else to do but to send him on out again, but this time minus the saddle. I was hot and frazzled (unexpectedly long round pen sessions always happen in the unshaded heat don’t cha know!) but just felt that the saddle was tweaking him out, whether it was pain or flashbacks or whatever the heck, I didn’t think I could get anywhere until I took that out of the equation and I couldn’t very well give up with my horse having stymied my mounting attempts violently twice. So saddle came off and lo and behold the dry spots that I have been getting behind the shoulders with saddles were even more pronounced after just the round pen work.
So around and around he went, and he got softer and quieter again. I put my reins on him and acted as if I would mount with him bareback (of course no handy mounting block around so I just leaning and jumping) and he was already not very impressed. He started to flex his neck side to side again. I really needed a mounting assist and a minute to think so we left the round pen and went to find my mounting block. Scrappy was still a little high but as we came up and toward where he lives his attention went to the fillies making noise and I could tell his energy had shifted. He wasn’t paying attention to me, but he also wasn’t in that weird panicked red zone he’d been in with the saddle on. I climbed on my mounting block and he wasn’t scared but he also really wasn’t paying attention up there by the the other horses so I put my skito and treeless on him (that we did miles in two days ago just fine!!) , took him and the block back to the round pen, sent him around a few times, then climbed up on the block. The first time I pulled the stirrup he did a little mini lean away but that was it, so I leaned over his back, cooed all over him like a greenie, he stayed normal Scrappy-esque, so I swung on board and that was that. He stood quietly, was a little nervous with my legs on him for a minute, then we round around and out on our merry way like nothing had happened. When he’d reproven himself saddle broke I put him in the cross ties and was so distracted by the whole thing I didn’t even clip the cross ties on him when I went inside for a bottle of water–he just stood there with a hoof cocked in the cross tie stall like ho hum farm plug til I came back..
SO. The saddle really hurt? Or the saddle really gave him bad bronc flashbacks or something?