Wearing a saddle for the first time is not an overnight process. For a horse like Lance, who came to SAFE last May as an unhalterable stallion, that process might be a little longer. But with no timelines in place, Lance is being given all the preparation he needs for that first time cinching up. There is never such a thing as over-prepared in horsemanship, and never any downside to spending more time working on honing tools that will help support a horse throughout their life.

For a horse who we first got hands on barely a year ago, Lance has come a long way. He began, as you might imagine, quite reactive to everything. From the pad touching him to the rope around any part of him, he did not yet have an understanding of when a stimulus meant something and when it did not, nor did he have a good grasp on how to give to pressure. But over the months, his education and his understanding grew, and these days he is a much more relaxed horse than he arrived, in more that one way.

Lance is just about ready to wear a saddle for the first time (or should we say, get cinched up, for as you can see below, he has already had a saddle on his back). His groundwork sessions help to prepare him for that day, and also help to make him a softer and more well-rounded horse overall. He learns a bit what it will feel like to carry a saddle, yes, but also how to respond to the potential unknown. Each woosh of a flag overhead or on his side helps to build his confidence as he learns to respond, not react, to stimuli — and also how to take cues from his supporting human. Each time he is led by a front, he learns how to give to pressure a bit better, and each time he feels the rope around his hind legs he learns how not to panic if he is ever caught up in a fence. Lance grows his confidence with each session, and we look forward to the day, likely quite soon, when he can add wearing a saddle to his repertoire.

Check out a montage of one of his recent groundwork sessions below.