Does anyone else have this problem with their gaited horse? I'm not sure it's really a problem with gaited horses but, anyway, this is what my TWH mare has learned to do; she is great on the ground, stands for everything, leads, is great at liberty,too; she will stand quiet by the mounting block; I can get up in one stirrup and lay across her back with no problem; but..... as soon as I swing my right leg over and actually sit down, she bolts; needless to say, this is not something that makes for a great start to a ride with her; I can get her to slow down and walk, but the rushing off is becoming dangerous; she has a custom made saddle, so I'm pretty sure that's not the problem; she's 11 years old and I have owned her for one and a half years; she has had this issue right from the beginning and I'm afraid I didn't address it enough and now it has become a real safety concern; I ride with a bitless bridle and seems to work well for her, once we get past the rushing off; any insights/advice out there? I love to hear your thoughts.
What pops up in my head is that her back may hurt when you sit down. Can you get an equine chiropractor out to check her back out? Her back also may have changed since your custom made saddle was fitted. If the chiropractor can't find something you might want to have the saddle fitter out. I would also CAREFULLY check the bottom of her saddle and pad. Feel all over the part of the saddle that rests on her back with the tip of your fingers. If the saddle has padding see if you can get your fingers under it and feel what is on the saddle on the part ABOVE the padding also. I ran into some somewhat unpleasant suprises when I did this with two of my saddles. Do the same with your pad each and every time before you put it on.
I've only owned one gaited horse, a Paso Fino mare, and I never had this particular problem with her. I just started riding a TWH mare, but her problem is convincing her to move at all (not my horse.)
Good luck, and I hope this gives you some ideas.
Jackie, thanks for your reply and suggestions; I did, indeed, check for pain, saddle fit etc.; I had an experienced trainer come and ride my girl just to get her opinion on what the issue could be; between the trainer, myself, and some of my other barn friends, we thought she might just have some "holes" in her training and not be understanding what we wanted of her; I also think she may not be used to being in an arena; anyway, I started with lots and lots of calming groundwork; just leading, and lots of at liberty work, until she became very calm and responsive to body language and voice commands (I'll admit, I used some food treats throughout the process); I then spent time at the mounting block, just standing still and making it a very relaxing place to be; the first few times I got into the saddle a friend held the leadline to encourage Klassy to stand still and back up a few steps; yesterday I got up into the saddle and rode without any friend support; she was amazingly quiet and responsive; time and patience was what it took; I'm convinced now that Klass was just scared and unsure of me and of what I wanted; now I think more of a relationship has been extablished and she trusts me more; she's a smart girl and is willing now that I have taken the time to help her understand what it is she needs to do; just thought you might like to know about our progress