Saddling and mounting your horse….piece of cake right, there is nothing to it! Until you hop on and find out the hard way that your horse had no intention of going for a ride today.
So many times I see this important step in riding get overlooked or taken for granted yet I have solved many issues just through taking the time to ensure that my horse is OK with the saddle and that he is giving me permission to hop on.
Diago came into my possession because he was ‘cold backed’ or whenever he had a spell from riding, and was brought back into work, he would go to town. I remember when looking at buying him I was told ‘when he starts bucking… he can REALLY buck!’
This video is the process that I ALWAYS go through with every horse before getting on to ride. By checking in with him during saddling, I can see how he is feeling when the saddle goes on, and as I gradually tighten the girth, and move him around, it gives the horse a chance to warm up PLUS I can help him out if he has any OMG! moments BEFORE I hop on him.
You can see in this video that Diago is a bit tight in his shoulders as I move him around, but he pops over the jump OK and disengages his hind quite easily so I made the call to hop on.
Just because he checks out ok on the ground however, I still take the time to ask Diago for permission to hop on. Jumping up and down beside him, just lets him know that my position is about to change. He is not bothered by this so I step up in the stirrup. You might notice that I pause here, just to make sure he says yes, you can hop on. At this point, and by keeping my hips facing forward, I am in a secure position so if Diago says no, and starts to move, I am able to easily step down again to help him out from the ground.
Throughout this video, Diago has plenty of options to move and express how he is feeling. I never tie a horse up when saddling and ESPECIALLY when mounting as I need to know how he is feeling and if I have permission to move forward. If Diago steps away (or up and down!!!) then I know that he needs more help with this before moving forward and it is by listening to what my horse is saying that is going to keep me safe.
My last check before going off on our ride is to make sure that Diago is happy to sniff my foot on either side. To do this, Diago has to flex himself all the way from nose to tail. Notice that he has to adjust his back foot when I change sides? He is just getting ready to adjusting his body to flex the other way (something a horse wouldn’t do if he is keeping his body straight) and his little sigh at the end is a nice acknowledgement from him that he is feeling OK.
Wow! There is a lot to this video hey? And it might seem like it is going to take forever to saddle up and get on your horse, but this video is only 5 minutes long – 5 minutes, well worth checking to make sure you stay safe as you are getting on and you will see in my next video how that ride goes.
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