I think I’ve been waiting to use that as a blog title for quite some time. Ol’ Silver is finally broke. We took delivery on him shortly after the last entry. He was pretty green, but the guy did a good job on him. He didn’t neck rein all that well, and he was hard to motivate to move, but he’s safe. That’s when he’s being ridden. He has never gotten over the trauma of being stuck with needles and tied to posts and castrated. He is still very squeamish during the whole saddling process. At first, I was very good about riding him 3-5 times a week, but bad weather, trips, and working late has cut that back. If I don’t saddle him every other day, he tends to forget that it’s okay.
Here’s the process. I feed him, lunge him for about 5-10 minutes. He is getting really good at responding to verbal commands. Then, I throw a surcingle over his back a couple of times and tighten it up. He shies away from this at first. At least, part of it is shying away; part of it is just not wanting to be messed with. I am doing all of this, while holding him. He had such trauma when tied that I want to get him desensitized first, then start tying him again. So, I put the surcingle on and usually I can cinch him up with that without issue. After that, I throw the blanket on a couple of times. Again, if I’ve messed with him recently, he takes the blanket easily. Then, comes the saddle dance. Sometimes, I have to chase him around a couple of times holding this heavy thing in the air with enough lead line slack that I can get the saddle to his back. Of course, that is also enough slack that he can just move away from me. However, he frequently stands still once I get close enough and have the saddle lifted as high as his back. Once he stands, he’s good about letting me get the skirts turned down and it in place. By this point, his ears are glued to the rear. Not angry, just keenly interested in anything that goes on around his back. I talk to him, pet him, touch him a lot around the belly. Then, I switch hands with the lead. By the way, I always carry my Air Force Pilot Survival knife on my belt. I figure that if he takes off and I get tangled in 25 feet of lead line, I can draw that knife and cut myself free pretty quick. I used to carry one just like it on my body armor in Iraq to cut myself or someone else out of a seatbelt if necessary. Now, I switch hands, move around to the other side and ease the girths and stirrup off the seat. I ease back around and grab the saddle, wiggling it and talking to him. Up to now, there’s no huge risk. Obviously, we don’t want him to get spooked, but if he does, he just drops the saddle on the ground. That’s only happened once. The sniptious part is where I have one girth strapped on, but not the back, or even worse, the girth in the process of cinching down, but not tight. If he jumped and that saddle rolled, but couldn’t come off, that’ll hurt the horse (and the saddle). So, I rub him real good where the girth goes, then reach under and grab the girth and pull it up to his belly, then relax it. Then I make a couple of loops through the D-ring, enough to where I could pull it up quick and have a hope of holding it on. Finally, I pull it up and cinch it. Not too tight, but good enough to hold it in place for at least a couple of jumps. Then, I hastily buckle the back girth. Whew. Now, he’s secure. After all of that foolderah you might think that he would know the saddle’s back there, but nonetheless, if it’s been a couple of days, he’ll jump and even pitch a time or two when he steps off. So, I lead him around at arm’s length. I walk him about 30 yards, then tighten him up. I reach back to touch him on his belly. Sometimes he’ll shy at first. After about 10 minutes of walking him around, I bridle him and mount with no issues.
Obviously, he needs a lot of work still. Summer will provide the opportunity for a lot of wet saddle blankets. That is the solution, of course. Tuesday, he fidgeted, he jumped, he shied during this process. Wednesday, I had him lunged and saddled in 25 minutes with no issues. I had to skip last night, but will work him again first thing when I get home today.
I have no idea about the rest of the ranch. I think we have some cows still. Anna says we do. Maybe I’ll visit them this weekend. We have had trouble finding the tags we need. Once we do, we’ll begin a concentrated effort to get our calves all tagged so we can match them up well. Who knows, maybe by the end of the summer, I’ll have a cow horse.