June 29, 2011
Spent about an hour tonight working on saddling. It has been months since I’ve saddled Lucky, as we’ve been playing bareback.
So, I discovered he still had a LOT of anxiety about being saddled.
The process tonight involved lots of TTouch, mainly connected clouded leopard. Plus ear work, ttouches on his face, neck rocking, leg rocking – basically all his favorites to really get him in a relaxed receptive thinking state of mind.
Then the pad.
Then more ttouches and some food rewards.
On and off with the pad, mixed in with ttouches and treats and reassurance, lowering his head when necessary.
Then the same process with the saddle.
Then with the saddle and girth.
All of this done on both sides of his body.
Not habituation or desensitizing, but reengaging his thought processes whenever he would get anxious. I’d wait for the head to lower, the eye to soften, the licking/chewing/yawning, then move to the next stage. I’ll know next session how much he processed, and how much he accepted.
We finished out with a nice long walk down the road, wearing the saddle. He practically led me! He really loves to be out and about seeing new things, and I suspect he is going to be a rockin’ trail horse.
He was very careful to help me up the steep hill on the way home, actually pausing to nudge me, and towing me along willingly with his halter.
We’re making great strides, and we’ll be out riding the trails very soon. Yea!
He sounds like a Left Brain introvert with right brain introvert tendencies. Mountain Scout is very similar, but his anxieties are different ie: the trailer and longing. The approach you are taking with the saddle is awesome. Slow and right beats fast and wrong 🙂 can't wait to meet him! Did you find the horsenality chart on the savvy club website? It would be interesting to chart him and see what type of Horsenality he really is 🙂 I look forward to hearing more progress!