Terry worked with Sienna during the groundwork sessions of the Joel Conner clinic, and Sienna was saddled for the first time! Here’s what Terry had to say:

This was Sienna’s second time in a Joel Conner clinic at Safe Harbor. Joel and I assessed the work I’ve been doing with her and I asked for his help saddling her for the first time. I’ve done quite a bit of rope work with her and she seemed untroubled by it now. In the beginning she would flinch a ton when anything touched her and even bolt away when the touch lasted too long. I took a good amount of time preparing her for the cinch by rubbing her with my hands along the girth, chest, and back. Even just grooming her has been good preparation for this. In the beginning, I could only brush her hindquarters or tail. Now she stands quietly for grooming. So I was hopeful we could get the saddle on but unsure about doing it myself. Making sure this first saddling was a good experience was very important with such a sensitive mare. Having Joel’s experience and guidance was really helpful.

She did react a little bit to the saddle but overall it was not too bad. She got a little tight and threw in a few jumps but she she quickly smoothed out. To be completely honest, after Joel put the saddle on and I could see Sienna was ok with it all, I got a little emotional. Having seen this mare come so far in just a year with SAFE was simply overwhelming. I am so impressed with her willingness to connect. She’s transformed from an untouchable frightened mare to a sweet gentle girl. She stood quietly amidst all the commotion of the clinic and rested her head on my arm. It’s truly a gift working with horses like her and being able to build a relationship of trust and love. She is truly one of the special ones and I am honored to have her friendship.

I’ll continue to saddle her when I work her and do tons of things to help her get used to the stirrups moving around and things touching her side. The biggest improvement over the weekend was her softening around to bend her neck. This will be very important for when we get on for the first ride. We want her to find comfort in the bend and helping her stay soft and not brace up. If all continues to go well, we will put the first rides on her at the November clinic. I truly believe Sienna is going to make it because this horsemanship works!

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