Training to Saddle
At 2 or 3 years, depending on your preferences, you can start saddle training your Paso Fino. You need to make sure your horse respects and obeys you from the ground, which is where discipline comes into play again. You also need to be able to determine when discipline becomes abuse. Young horses have short attention spans. Your corrections must be done immediately of bad behavior. To do so later would defeat the purpose as the horse wont understand as be interpreted as abuse.
Be patient and take it one step at a time for your safety and the horse's. Always direct yourself with authority and a clear loud vice. Work begins the moment you catch the horse in it's stall or turnout area. Too many people simply throw a saddle on a horse and expect it to accept it. This isn't "training" your horse. There is a difference.
After lunging, this is the next step. Tie the horse with about 6 inches of play between the halter and post. Get an empty feed bag or an old heavy shirt. Stand near the horse so that you can reach it with the object that you havein your hands. Do not stand so close that if the horse moves around you do not have time to move away. Proceed to sack by gently swinging the bag back and forth touching him in different parts of its body. The horse may make all kinds of noises and rear around. Every time the horse has stopped its reaction, stroke him with the bag. Do this from both sides and again to every part along its side and legs. ON his head, only gently put it over the face and ears. Slowly remove it from the head.
After all of this has been accepted, do the same all over but this time do it gently with your bare hands. Still maintain a position so that you can move away easily. Then untie the horse and take him back to the stall. If you clicked on the link above you will have a little more info on sacking out your horse.
Generally before actually starting to introduce the saddle on the horse I set an old pony saddle where ever I have the horse. I've sat it on the stall wall while the horse was stalled, on a barrell in the field during turnout or next to where I tie him. Notice I said Old Used? I do this because some horses have been known to decide this was a toy and "play" with the saddle. Not everyone does this, it's just something I do, and it seems to make things easier. Now, back to the actual saddle introduction...
Sack out your horse again, then start the introduction. Some prefer to use a set of hobbles to introduce the saddle: once again this is a matter of preference and may also depend on your horse. I've never used them with any horse I've worked with. If he would not accept the saddle quietly I went back to the respect issue which required more groundwork such as lunging and sacking out.
After sacking out as you usually would slowly start using the saddle pad you plan to use on a regular basis. Let him smell it, and after sacking with it, place it on his back. Now it is time to introduce the saddle if all is still going well. If you need to repeat the saddle blanket introduction, do it!! Make sure your horse is comfortable before actually introducing the saddle.
Let him smell the saddle then move back to his side to slowly place the saddle on his back. Do not throw or swing the stirrup and girth over his back. Slowly and lightly place it on his back. MO< When tightening the girth, do it gently and slowly. some horses are more sensitive than others when this is done. When the saddle is secured, turn your horse loose from the post and make him move so that he feels the saddle. Once he has accepted it, tie again.
If you do not have someone else to help, make sure your horse has no room to move. If you have help, have them wrap the rope around the post one full circle and then some. Make sure your helper is always facing your horse. Now it's time to mount if all has gone well so far.
Slowly approach your horse from the front to his side, I always speak soothingly and run my hand along his neck. Move the saddle around before placing your foot in the stirrup. Every move should be slow and cautious. Place your foot in the stirrup and stand without swinging your leg over once so your horse can see you above him and feel the weight before it is on his back. Now mount completly. The first few times make sure he feels your leg rub their side and rump until settled in the saddle.
After both feet are in the stirrups move around some. Touch your horse on the neck, rump, and alog his sides. Next stand to dismount on the other side following the same format as mounting. Remount on the other side. Do this several times always taking into account how your horse is reacting.
When your horse accepts you on his back dismount & if you use them, take the hobbles off. Try to lunge him at a WALK(I know, I still have some trouble with Kito doing this!!) in both directions. If your horse tries to take off bucking make sure you are prepared to pull him in and lunge him aroud a couple of times with nothing on him.
To finish the first day, tie him again and mount and dismount both ways once more. This will let him know that you didn't try to hurt him. Now unsaddle at the post and lunge him a couple times bare.
During each step, reward your horse with a pat and a voice of reassurance. I also have treats ready for Kito when he's doing well and have personally found this to work wonders! This is MY preference, not everyone will agree. The purpose of all these steps are to ensure that your horse understands what the saddle is and to accept you on his back without bucking.
You can start by tying your horse and slowy start saddling. If a short sacking session is needed I do so before saddling. You can normally read your horses body launguage to help you decide if this is needed. Start lunging your horse for about 10 minutes. Remember that his attention span is short. The idea is to build up there attention span, at the same time that they learn with discipline. Return him to the pole, tie him, and mount and dismount several times from the right and from the left. As you do so, make sure he feels your leg on his side and rump so that later on if you accidentally kick your horse in the hindquarters as you mount or dismount, he will not spook and bolt away form you. Again touch him on the neck, sides and rump with your hands. This reinforecs the idea that you can mount and sit on the horse and dismount without cause for his concrn. MOve around in the saddle when on his back so he is used to your movements on his back standing still so this does not startle him when he feels you moving as he moves on.
The sign for the next step, riding, is when you are lunging your horse at any speed that you ask and he does not offer to buck or hunch his back in discomfort with the saddle when it moves.
When you tack up your horse use one set of reins to the side rings(bosal) and the other to the bottom rings(barbada). The top rein is primarily for turning and the bottom rein is mainly for stopping. This was hard for me to remember when I started working Kito but isn't too hard to remember.
Saddle at the barn and then lunge your horse. Make sure that he has worked some and his attention is totally on you. Mount your horse and ride as if lunging him at a walk. Work up to a regulare corto. You must work in unity to ensure you teach the horse the proper commands from its back and it associates those with the commands it is used to from the ground. Be patient and do not expect it all in the first day.
Your job from day one will be to start teaching the horse to stop. To stop sit back and down on the saddle ans use the least contact possible on the reins. When you get ready to move forward again, use your body by leaning forward and gently squeezing your legs, at the saem time that you or your help enocurage the horse to move. This will teach the horse the difference in your movements. This will facilitate things for the rest of the training. The idea is for the horse to stop without taking any extra steps. Do this at a walk then start asking for stops from the corto. Do not try to guide the horse, let them be on a loose rein. Work in both directions. Do this until you feel that if the horse where to try to run of, you could stop him regarldess of the speed.
Remember that you must try to achieve a perfect stop every time. This developes the horse's respect for the stop command and the discipline that the horse must stop immediately every time, which comes in handy if the horse spooks on the trail and may be prone to flight.
Once you have the stop mastered, start asking your help to give you more rope. This will free up the horse. Now start trying to guide the horse, the goal being to use a light pull and a quick release. When you pull on the reins, the horses first natural instinct is to pull back. This will then allow the horse to feel a quick "reward", the faster you release.
Ask your horse to change directions once you feel the horse is giving to your pulls and releases as you guide the horse.
If you have help have them ride ahead of you on a calm horse all over where you think you'll ride. Have your horse follow closely. Getting your horse used to the surroundings will be a big help.
If I have no help I will lead the horse around an area I may be riding before lunging. Then mount and ride out starting at a walk then working up to a corto. If you have problems controlling or maintaining the horse's attention, dismount immediately and lunge the horse short and as hard as you can. Make the horse work at full speen in a small circle, both directions. This should get his attention and is more efficient than a whip or a fight. This method goes for any horse at any stage in training.
Consistency and repetition will show the horse what you are trying to accomplish. You are better off having a short session that is positive, than trying to ask too much at once and having a battle.
IT takes twice as long to undo negative behavior or a bad habit as it does to teach that bad behavior.
Keep the following in mind when working outside of the ring:
a-You are only trying to teach the horse guidance and control.
b-Do not worry about gait, head position, collection, or flexing.
c- Be patient and make sure that the horse is worked on the daily basis. They need to develop a routine of work and of discipline.
d-The basics you are working on will determine the future of your horse. Stay relaxed and realistic in your expectations. If your horse has a bad experience at this stage, it will stay with him forever.