It’s important for your horse to be comfortable in his work. If you are not sure if your saddle fits, ask a professional for help. Always begin by setting saddle on horse without a pad. The pommel should not be touching the wither. Place your hand on inside of bars,, if it feels super tight, it is hampering movement of horses shoulder.. You don’t want the bars ( or gullet ) too loose and wobbly either. Now test the saddle with pad and tightened up, standing in your stirrups, place your fingers between the saddle and wither, when you lean forward, there should be no pinching, that is what your horse would feel, check for pinching in the bar area too. Bit fitting is extremely important, as well. A bit that is too narrow for your horses mouth will pinch the corners. One that is too big will move side to side and cause soreness. If a horse has been ridden with poor fitting tack, just changing does not always solve the problem. Horses can become deeply traumatized by pain. Horses will develop incorrect muscle, causing pain, leading to survival instincts. A horse will shut off their brain, submitting just to survive. This will cause heavy duty baggage.This takes knowledge, time, and creativity to fix. You will need to develop and coordinate correct back muscles with sophisticated body movements. Treat the problem at the level of athletic development. As long as physical pain is still present, no psychology training will work. Fix the muscular pain, then the memory. ____” A gifted horse will lead a good rider to victory, A great rider will give to the horse the gift of soundness” Jean Luc Cornille, Science of Motion.
When I am called to evaluate a horse’s behavior issues, I begin each call with questions of feed, health, and environment. Evaluating a horses diet is a huge part of a trainer’s job. If a horse is poorly fed and in poor condition, then a good quality hay along with added grain or supplements will be necessary. On the other hand, if a horse is acting out with high energy, neurotic behavior, just completely out of control, chances are, it is receiving way too much high protein feed. Horses store energy in their tendons, mind and muscle. This is a protective ability allowing them to run from predators long distance, without tiring. When a domesticated horse is given large amounts of grain or high protein supplements, then contained in small areas without much exercise, this is a recipe for disaster. It can create neurotic behavior that leads to vices such as cribbing, aggressiveness, just plain stress. Health is most important factor, questioning, is the horses teeth correctly floated? Sharp edges make it difficult for the horse to comfortably chew. Is the horse current on vaccinations and deworming? This is just a short overview of a four part series I will be writing. It is to include tack fitting, feet, and how the horses spine along with muscle compensation can create ” hidden ” pain that leads to behavior issues and then finally lameness issues. Listen to what your horse may be trying to show you. Stubborn and lazy is not in his vocabulary, there is always a reason he is misbehaving.