For Poppy these days, wearing a saddle is no big deal. Nor are many of the things that once bothered her — being touched with a flag, or a rope. She has made huge strides, but there is still prep work to do when it comes to readying Poppy for a rider. One thing we do to help horses adjust to having something, someone, above them is to.. well, get above them. We practice this by bumping them up to the rail, a trick Poppy picked up quickly, and then working up to waving a flag overhead, by their sides, behind them. We do the same with a rope, going so far as to throw a loop across their backs and coil it back up. Though many of our horses will never work a cow, playing at roping off of them helps get them ready for just another set of environmental variables.
Here you can see Terry doing all of the above to help Poppy get used to stimuli around and above her. And as you can also see, the prep-work has really paid off — Poppy is hardly bothered by the various flaps and flops of the flag and rope. Terry ends their session by “sitting” on Poppy to get her used to an actual person in the saddle, as well as the added weight. In this sit, Terry is still committed fully to the panel, so if Poppy were to start to leave, she could easily pull herself off the horse. But, spoiler alert, Poppy handles this final bit the same way she did all the rest: without very much reaction at all.
Poppy has come a long way, and continues to grow in her confidence by the day!