Tilly’s reaction to the rite of “first saddle” was amusing. She was trying to wiggle out of it, and it has slipped some distance down her back after a couple of hours of wandering free around the corral and her shed. She seems to be calmly waiting for us to rid her of it. I couldn’t resist snapping her giant yawn! At this stage of the game, she has been familiarized with the saddle blanket, allowed to sniff it, chew on it and maul it around, knocking it off the fence a few times. She previously wore a bareback riding pad for a few stretches of time, so the blanket wasn’t anything too surprising to her, nor was the cinch on the saddle.
The saddle we intended to use for her training is still sitting in a queue at the saddle maker’s shop awaiting repairs. Dad’s big old saddle weighs a ton and doesn’t seem appropriate for colt starting. We decided to improvise and borrow a youth saddle from Neighbor Tom. The advantages are it is light-weight and easy to handle, although it lacks a belly cinch, which is kind of critical. We put it on and took it off a couple of times, cinched it up gradually and then I hooked a longe line to her halter and led her around the corral so she could become comfortable with the feel of the saddle. After a few minutes I asked her to walk on and then gave her a command to trot. She humped her back and jumped a couple of times, then evened out in a nice even trot for several rounds. The stirrups are light and narrow and when bumping her sides did not seem to bother her.
Tomorrow we will put a breast collar on and attach it to the saddle to hold it in place. We don’t want to begin by cinching too tight, and we don’t want the saddle to slip off, which would be a yard sale to say the least. Next on the agenda we will try to get her to take a bridle with snaffle bit. She is very sensitive around her mouth, so this should be an enterprise. I think I’ll rub a little honey on the bit and surprise her.