I was asked, at one point, to ride a little Arabian mare. Now I had a pretty low opinion of Arabians at that time. I thought that any time they got a little rattled, that BB would start bouncing around inside their head and lead to several different kinds of wrecks. I now know that that it usually isn’t the horse so much as the horseman that is the problem.
The little mare did not have a good foundation and really needed someone to take some time with her, really start her over. Unfortunately, she got me. I was a semi-professional quasi-natural horseman who was vastly superior to anyone I knew at the time. (Alright, to be honest, I was not vastly superior to everyone that I knew.) At this point in my great career as a clinician and horse trainer I felt that I could fast track her through the process. Meaning my ground work was even more nil to non-existent than usual.
I worked her for about two days on the ground. She was jumpy and twitchy, just couldn’t wait to get away from me. At the time she was giving me all of the warning signs, saying “I’m not ready, don’t do that, what do you really want here?”. Unfortunately I couldn’t read. I had a little crowd that gathered every day to watch the wonders that I was going to accomplish and I couldn’t disappoint my fan base. So I pushed her on through to the point of resaddling. Now the book I had read had talked about saddling a horse without a halter, so that they could leave anytime the pressure was too much to stand still for(this little process actually works if you take the time it takes to get your horse comfortable on the ground, unfortunately I had a crowd and an ego).
I started slow enough, did several minutes of approach and retreat….then BAM. I flipped that saddle up on her back. I think she was too shocked to move and of course I didn’t slow down. I quickly grabbed the front cinch and started to tighten it up. I usually don’t use the little buckle thing , on the cinch, when I saddle. I use a knot, which takes a little time. I had just threaded the long latigo through the cinch ring and was started on my second one when the shock wore off. She decided to leave like she was at the starting line of the Kentucky Derby. Well, I was too far in to just jerk my saddle off. In fact, I couldn’t have “ jerked” it off if I had wanted to. It was just tight enough that when it slid down on her side, it stayed there. Little Arab started making laps around the inside of the round pen like she was being chased by a grizzly bear, banging my saddle on every post as she went around.
My fan base went into panic mode, wanting to jump in and help poor little Arab. “Why she must be scared out of her mind to take off like that!” Heck all I could think, “this crazy arab is going to tear my saddle up, how the heck am I going to keep training if she tears up my saddle?” She made several laps sounding like a kid dragging a stick down a picket fence. With my saddle being the stick! I finally grabbed a halter and just stepped in the way hoping I could catch her head before she ran over me! Fortunately I snagged her nose with the halter on the first try and was able to pull her into a circle. I leaned close and loosened the saddle, letting it fall to the ground. And just like that, she quit running!
My fan base had all scattered like quail, my saddle was some beat up and I knew my quasi-natural horsemanship skills would be called into question. BUT, there was some good that came out of this for both myself and the horse. I finally took the time it takes and started Little Arab correctly, including A LOT of ground work. My saddle was a little skinned up but none the worse, speaks volumes for the quality of a good Utahn saddle. And the checks that my ego was writing got bounced. The only thing I can say after all that is egos and horses are a bad mix!