Just kidding. I have no idea what part of Jack’s story it is. I got sick of writing “Jack Part…let me check. 6?”
So Jack and I have been busy. He’s been getting ready to get saddled and bridled, and I know he’s had both, but his understanding of both were either a) indifference in wearing gear – in other words it has no meaning, or b) resentment for wearing it, having it put on, and resentment to it’s past meaning.
As for the saddle, I wanted him to get ready to carry a western saddle with a back cinch, so I first had him get used to a big saddle blanket going over on his back on both sides. When that got better, I then put a saddle blanket on him with my coils so that the coils would land on the opposite side as the pad swung over – kind of how a stirrup might fall on his side when the saddle was set on. That was a bit troubling for him but not for long.
After that I spent some time having him wear lariat around his middle, tightening it gently every once in a while to prepare him for the feeling of being cinched up. I’d occasionally move the lariat back toward where the back cinch would be to make sure he’d be comfortable wearing a back cinch. Those proved to not be much trouble for him at all, and much less scary than the saddle pad for him, interestingly enough.
Next it was time for the saddle. I put it on and took it off a few times, and let the cinches down carefully. He was a bit worried but nothing substantial, and I was proud of him when he stood through the experience. Once the cinches were tightened his head went up and ears back a bit, and he had a few broncy inclinations, but I asked him to step onto a circle to the left and untrack his hindquarters and his mind came back to me. I was hoping to show him when he got troubled he could come find me, instead of feeling like he needed to react to save himself. He settled pretty quickly and we went about our groundwork as usual, which improves every day.
Next, I wanted to prepare him for bridling. He was quite braced in the poll and clearly resented having someone near his head asking him to do things. He’d obviously had some experience wearing a bridle, and it was all pretty unclear and unhappy for him. So I worked a bit at just seeing if he could lower his head for me and rubbed his neck. His first instinct was to resist and go up and over backwards, but with some careful timing and letting pressure off at the right times, staying with him at others, he relaxed and lowered his head, licking and chewing. Pretty soon he was comfortable with me asking him to lower his head and letting me touch his ears and face.
Next I wanted to see if I could touch his muzzle and put my finger in his mouth to loosen his jaw. I’d want to be able to have him loosen his jaw and work his mouth before putting the bit in, instead of chasing his tight mouth around with a bit 100 feet in the air. I practiced putting the lead rope in his mouth a few times til he felt good about the whole thing, and soon we were able to put the whole picture together. He lowered his head for me and relaxed his mouth for me to put the snaffle in. I was careful it didn’t hit is teeth and careful about not crumpling his ears or bumping his eyes.
After that we were out to do more groundwork, in hopes of showing him that the feel of the bridle reins meant the same as the lead rope. His mouth was a bit busy at first but in no time he looked like an old pro. 🙂