So far in the training and sacking out process, Imogen hasn't been bothered by my surcingle or jumping saddle at all. Once she got over her initial fear of towels and blankets on her back, everything else I've put up there hasn't phased her at all. (Hopefully this will, you know, extend to ME once I am up there as well.) I lamented briefly a few days ago that my puny little English saddles are quiet and non-invasive, and that there wasn't any real bombproofing going on while she was wearing them. What she needed, I said, was a big honking, creaking, swinging Western saddle of some sort to bounce, flop, and swing around on her for awhile. Enter M and S, clients of mine who are also blog readers - they offered up S's rope saddle for my temporary usage, and when I trimmed their horses last night I picked up and brought the saddle home with me. (Double bonus - I'm also going to toss it on P and use it to teach Immy to pony. Ponying from an English saddle only works with a horse that is broke to pony.... there's a wrapped horn on rope saddles for a reason, to dally down a running animal!) (PS - re-reading that last sentence makes me feel like I've been living in Texas a bit too long... I'm pretty sure I didn't even know what a dally was before I moved here, much less how to take a dally!)
I wasn't sure what she was going to do. This saddle in particular, especially compared to my jump saddle, is creaky, very loud, very heavy, and has swinging stirrups, a breastcollar and a back girth to go with it. The back girth was the big question in this case - would she blow up once it started bouncing around? Back girths are often the cause for huge panic amongst greenies, but since it was firmly attached to the saddle, I decided we'd see how it went and go from there based on her behavior. I opted to tack her up in the roundpen, just in case something happened and I needed to yank the saddle or let her go quickly for any reason.
I swung the pad around, rubbed her with it, tossed it over her back, and started doing to the same with the saddle. She gave it a half-hearted snort when I first lifted it off the ground, but once I hoisted it up high and started bouncing it around, she didn't care. From there, it was an easy up and over onto her back, and she still didn't care. I took my sweet long time adjusting both girths and bouncing the saddle around on her back (while I still had the chance to pull it in case something went wrong), and the only movement she bothered to do was to cock a foot. She lunged in both directions, w/t/c, and just did. not. care. Even the stirrups swinging around against her sides didn't bother her at all.
I'm 100% certain that before now, she has never been saddled. She was so genuinely scared of towels and blankets being put onto her back that I can't imagine a saddle has ever successfully been up there before.... but once she stopped bolting away from her blankets and decided they were all right, she no longer seems to care about anything I put on her. She is genuinely just a total genius!
No, that's not a butt tumor.... that's my phone in my pocket lol.
Genius. Genius, genius mare. We're getting closer and closer to her first ride every day!!