Started out with basic round pen exercises to get her mind right. As usual, no problems. I put the saddle and pad on the rail, so that she would get to see them each time she ran past. She never shied away from them, and as usual, round penning went well.
Now it was time for the saddle. I put the saddle pad on, and she didn't blink. This was expected, since she wears a turnout blanket all the time, so something lightweight on her back was nothing new. Next, I gently placed the saddle on her back, working on the offside, to avoid any problems from the cinches banging around. She looked at the saddle once, but again, seemed unconcerned with the whole thing.
I walked around to the near side, to begin cinching her up. The 30" cinch that I ordered for her hasn't arrived yet, so I was using a spare 32" cinch. Remember this. It will become important later.
I pulled the cinch around underneath, ran the latigo thru and gently tightened it up. As expected the cinch was too long, and while it didn't quite reach from one side of the saddle to the other, it was darn close. But I still had enough latigo to reasonably tighten her up. And since I wasn’t planning on riding her, it didn’t seem like a big deal. I buckled up the back cinch, and let her stand for a few minutes. All was well.
I grabbed the stirrups one at a time, and slapped the fenders up and down until she stopped flinching. It took longer for her to quite shying at the noise than in the DVD, and my arms were pretty tired after slapping the fenders up and down for what felt like an eternity.
Time to trot her, so she could get the feel of the saddle. I checked the cinch to ensure it was still tight, and then sent her off. The first couple trips around the pen were accompanied by the expected bucking and crow hopping, but she settled down fairly quickly.
Then it happened. The saddle slipped, and began to roll down her right side. She exploded, bucking and rearing for all she was worth. It was a sight to behold. If this doesn’t work out, she may have a future as a rodeo horse.
By now the saddle was entirely on her right side. If this continued, it would end up underneath her, and then things would get really ugly(!). This is where the work I’ve done to this point paid off. I got her attention focused on me, and used the cues to get her to stop and face me. She did. She was shaking, but clearly looking to me for help. Talking in a calm voice, I gently approached her, and rubbed her on the neck. Satisfied that she had calmed down enough for me to fix the problem, I grasped the saddle, and pushed it back up in place. I then tightened the cinch up further, until I was satisfied that it would not slip again.
I let her stand with me for a few moments until she was relaxed again. Then off at the trot, and even a little loping for good measure.
While this could have had some unfortunate consequences, it turned out for the better. Mistakes are part of the learning process, and I learned (or re-learned in at least two cases) at least three things:
1. ALWAYS use the correct equipment.
2. Make darn certain the cinch is tight.
3. This mare trusted me to get her out of a bad situation. Which can be oh so important once I start riding her.
I forgot to bring the camera with me, but I'll get some pictures of her saddled later this week, so I can post them.