When we intake a horse who we know for a fact has had a riding background, we are equal parts hesitant and hopeful. There is a chance that what the horse has been taught will make for a relatively easy re-start — the mere fact they have been saddled before eliminates some speculation as to how that is going to go. Of course, there are always many variables that make it so that we always treat a horse upon intake like it is brand new to this world. The process progresses more quickly (in some cases) for those who have prior riding experience, but for some, we find that the horse’s education is akin to a swiss cheese: many holes.

Scotty had been started under saddle, and spent some years in the Arabian show circuit. It had been a while (he last hit the town in 2017), but we were interested to see where he might pick up once we got him going in our program. The answer was: not very far. Scotty is a sensitive lad, and also a bit nervy, as can be common in his breed. While he was able to be cinched up with no issues, it was clear that his groundwork needed help. Which, in turn, meant that under saddle he would have the same braces.

It was clear from the get-go that Scotty lacked appropriate balance. It was easy to tell by his headset. Arabians don’t, in fact, need to keep their heads up like a periscope at all times. He put a lot of his weight on his front end, which in turn meant there was a high chance of him feeling the need to rear when stuck, and moving him out freely in the round pen, he looked fast and panicked in his gaits, another indication of poor balance.

But Scotty is a smart cookie with a lot of try, and we were sure we could help him find comfort through balance.

His first ride really solidified what we already knew to be true, which was that even if he was ‘safe’ to ride, aka not too bothered about having a rider and not particularly inclined to buck them off or try anything too western, as they say, he still need help. It was seen mostly when he moved up into the canter and nearly tripped and fell, simply because how out of balance he was. Kaya, who would be his primary rider, had a goal set for her, which was to help him find his feet through lots of hindquarters. She would work on strengthening the basics before loping him out again to ensure his success.

Building out Scotty’s toolkit would take some time, because despite his past as a riding horse, it was clear he needed more support to ensure his future success. But as is the case with all horses, no matter their background, Scotty will be given as much time and assistance as he needs here at SAFE before he is off to his forever home!