Densensitizing question

Discussion in 'Horse Training' started by Bakkir, Sep 19, 2018.

  1. Bakkir

    Bakkir Senior Member

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    This problem has came up 4 times now. It is 100% a fear issue. To be clear, I never reprimand a frightened animal.

    The problem is my little girl loses her mind if the saddle slips. I'm not one to over dramatize things. But I have a feeling someone beat her for it. The look in her eyes when it happens is terror.

    I want to do whatever I can to help her over her fear. I am able to calm her down and I am making extra sure the girth is tight before riding. But I would like to stop the outburst.

    The latest incident was me hand walking her back from the valley. I was stupid and loosened the girth on the walk back. She saw something move in the field and jumped sideways. Then the saddle slipped and all hell broke loose. I was able to keep her in a circle around me. She settled down quickly and walked back like nothing happened.

    But the look in her eyes really got to me.

    So I am looking for gentle methods (for the ground) so I can slowly work her through it.
     
  2. equinitis

    equinitis Senior Member

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    I don't know what you call gentle but I would find a safe area, slip the saddle and work her through it. Lather rinse and repeat. I always work really hard on my animals to "spook in place" no matter what the spook is. Some are batter at it than others but I feel like it has saved my hide more than once. I simply put them back where they were when they started a spook or even thought about spooking and praise that position. Over and over and over and over. lol
     
  3. bellalou

    bellalou Senior Member

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    I've never had this exact problem and I'm not a trainer so keep those things in mind.

    I'm wondering how far your saddle is slipping. I've honestly never had a big issue with saddle slippage even with a loosened girth. Is it actually sliding down her side or just sliding back or what?

    At any rate, I tend to agree with equinitis on just being a calm presence and letting her process it. Whether she's been hurt for doing it or not, she needs to learn that you're her safe and calm leader who she can look to. So I'd probably take her into a round pen with a loose saddle and let her figure out she's not going to die when it happens.

    I've never actually "trained" spook in place. It's just developed with my horses as they've learned to trust me as a leader.
     
  4. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    Take a soft cotton rope, throw it over her back. Pull it up around her girth area, loosely and wiggle it back and forth. Keep wiggling until she stops moving. She stops moving, her reward is: you stop doing it.

    Now. Chill a minute and repeat until she doesn't react. Next day do it again and move back little. If she over reacts, go back to the girth area, quick. Advance and retreat until she accept the rope all over her back, sides and underbelly from wither to hip.

    Then do it with a saddle pad, then the saddle.

    She didn't get beat for it. It slipped, someone got a spur hung in her or she just simply ran off and paniced.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2018
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  5. Bakkir

    Bakkir Senior Member

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    Thanks guy I will try both methods.

    Although she will stand perfectly relaxed when I rub stuff all over her.

    My saddle has slipped to the left 3 times while mounting and now once after a spook.

    Orginally since she showed no signs of the saddle or pad scaring her, I thought it was a mounting block issue. So I worked on that with her.

    I need to think of a way to pull the saddle off centre while she is on the lunge line. I hesitate to just tie a lead rope to it in case I drop it.

    If she is standing being tackled up, she doesn't react to the saddle being off centre. It's only when she is taken by surprise that she reacts. It's a huge explosion of power and fear. But after she calms down, she let's me adjust the saddle and acts like nothing happened.

    I am really not looking forward to this bit of training. I hate seeing her afraid of anything.

    I can't wait for cooler weather so I can use my other saddle pad. I really hate this barrel pad, but she prefers it.
     
  6. Bakkir

    Bakkir Senior Member

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    I also teach spook on the spot. She nearly has it. The spook on the ground was a startle and little jump.

    I get even less of a reaction when I'm riding her. She will startle and continue on like nothing happened. There is no scary end of the arena for her. We work all over the farm and she is fine. Nowhere near as reactive as when I got her.
     
  7. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    Get a saddle pad and slip it all over her back while giving her access to something she really likes to eat. Then get a lightweight English saddle (maybe borrow a Wintec) and slide it all over her. Then do the same with her regular saddle. After a few weeks (of doing it every day), do same when she's in motion. When saddling up move the saddle around some and make it a normal thing. When riding, when you first get on, rub your legs all around on her sides while petting her.

    My guess is she reacts 'fearfully' because having her saddle slip not only feels very weird and unaccustomed, it also hurts. It puts the girth out of position, the saddle bears against the withers, the saddle, girth and if the rider's on, the rider's legs, hit her in an unaccustomed place too close to her flanks(she probably has a big 'no go' zone around her flanks, most mares do), it hurts. I would desensitize her(I would insist she not have such a big 'no go' zone, too), but I'd also not loosen her girth while leading her around.
     
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  8. Rhythm 'n Blues

    Rhythm 'n Blues Senior Member

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    I have to pose this question - WHY is the saddle slipping?? Saddles don't tend to slip around if they are the right fit and shape for the horse. Even the super round rolly polly horses, the saddles should not slip if they fit properly. Even with a loose girth the saddle should slip to the point of causing a horse to spook, even the super sensitive ones.
     
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  9. Bakkir

    Bakkir Senior Member

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    With the proper western pad it doesn't slip. I'm using a round pad with no structure and ya it's a problem. I will be switching pads once the weather cools. The good pad has foam inserts that retain to much heat for summer.

    I need to recreate this specific reaction in her and then calm her and repeat until she doesn't react. But I want to do it as safely as possible and preferably when no one else is around to watch.

    Thanks for the tips slc. I have done all those things with her. As I said I can rub her anywhere with anything. I can touch her all over, including udders, flank and wiping her bum with baby wipes. She is an easy horse to work with in 99% of things.

    When she came to me, she was a mental mess. But with time and patience she has become a joy to be around.

    These spooks from the saddle slipping are very few and far between. Months go buy without issue then - bang!

    Of course I won't be loosening the girth out on the trail again. Lesson learned.
     
  10. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    Use a bareback saddle cinched loosely then. You do not react at all when she moves. You just stay at her shoulder. They're followers: the “buddy“ doesn't react at all, then they learn not to react.
     
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