It’s always a guessing game when these rescues show up with no history: broke or not? With Cinnamon and Jewel, we assumed they weren’t broke because of how skittish and shy they were. We couldn’t have been further from the truth with Cinnamon, who turned out to be a well-broke mare once she learned to trust us. It turned out that she was skittish and nervous because she was broke to ride and had had very bad experiences. After that learning experience, I began re-thinking the Jewel situation.
I was told that she had been a bucking bronco when the trainer tried to ride her at the previous rescue. After that, they couldn’t even get a halter on her. She had a serious injury to her chest that went all the way past her girth area, and looked like she had almost lost her front right leg. It was healed when I got her, but I could still feel scar tissue in places, and you can still see where she’s missing flesh in her chest.
There were a couple of things that I could guess from all of that:
1) she could still have pain in that area when girthed up, or she was ridden before completely healed and is expecting pain when ridden.
2) she has serious trust issues, probably from being ridden/worked through the pain, or from the tending of the wound itself.
3) she could have initially sustained the injury while under saddle
Renee came out Tuesday and just worked with getting a saddle on Jewel. She was able to get it on her back, but not girth it. Every time she’d move around to the off side, Jewel would panic. So she just walked her around the round pen a few times while holding on to the saddle. Jewel relaxed and we stopped, removed the saddle, and turned her loose.
Today, getting the saddle on was much easier, and Renee was able to get her girthed up as well. The girth didn’t seem to bother her, even when cinched up as tight as we could get it. She was also ok with Renee being on her off side. Getting the bridle on was a bit iffy, because Jewel has always been head shy since coming here. It’s obvious she’s been either beaten about the face or ear-twitched. It took some time and patience, but Renee got the bridle on. Then she walked Jewel around the pen a few times and she was relaxed and not bothered by anything, including Renee putting weight in one of the stirrups with her hands.
But as soon as Renee put a foot in the stirrup (no weight, just foot), Jewel exploded into a bucking frenzy! That mare knew what was coming and wasn’t going to have any of it! At first we thought maybe the girth was pulling on her old injury, but we could hang off the side of the saddle and she was fine. It was just when Renee put a foot in the stirrup as if to mount, that Jewel exploded.
I walked her over to the fence and told Renee to climb the fence from the outside and see if she could slide over instead…
Jewel stood still. Perfectly still.
Renee didn’t touch the reins and kept her legs off while I lead Jewel around the pen. Halfway around the first time, Jewel dropped her head, licked her lips, and gave a big sigh. You could feel the tension drain out of her as she figured out that this wasn’t painful!
After just a few spins around the pen, I lead her over to the fence so Renee could dismount the same way she got on. Jewel stood still. Again. We took the saddle and bridle off, gave her some praise, and turned her loose. Instead of taking off for the barn, like I thought she would, she just moseyed down the hill at a leisurely walk… like she was content with her place in the world at last. :)