Happy Horse Saddling: Reading our Horse's Body Language

Dec 10, 2020


Hello and welcome to another GENUINE CONNECTIONS LESSON. (delivered in 4 bite sized videos, video #1 above!). 

Do you know a horse that

  • Has to be tied in order to be saddled
  • Gives negative feedback about the saddling process
  • Stands still but is tense and tight while saddling
  • Moves when the rider wants to get on
  • Has a hard time to relax under saddle
  • Easily shies and is unconfident while riding
  • Wants to go faster and faster under saddle
  • Displays any scary or even dangerous behavior while riding?

So many riding problems stem from our horse building tension way before we actually get into the saddle. That's why Saddling is Task #9 in the Happy Horse Inventory!

In this GC LESSON you will learn:

What does it look like when my horse braces mentally and emotionally so physical tension (= anxiety/fear) is the result? AND: What can I do about it...

My Quarter Horse Mare Cash is a very well bred mare (her daddy is a Hall of Fame/World Champion Cutting Horse) who sadly got a rough start before she entered my life. She was very claustrophobic!

The facility owner had lost her front teeth after Cash had charged through a halfway open gate in panic. She also had huge fears around trailer loading. While she looked fine during the saddling process, once asked to move forward she turned into a bucking bronco!

Back then, when I first got her, several people told me: "It's just the way she is. Just let her buck it out".

I was unwilling to accept such a statement. I was NOT going to subject my horse to fear and anxiety each time I was about to get on her. What a silly and also dangerous suggestion!

Her fears were seated deeply. Her fears were very ingrained and deep. Nobody in her life so far had taken the time to fix the issue... so I had to find a rather unconventional method to help her overcome her panicked reactions: I needed to 'uninstall' dangerous patterns and create a clean slate for a better relationship and outcome.

Nowadays, Cash is a centered, balanced mare since we always take the time to address her feedback and feelings that she shares with us.

Here you can see my gorgeous girl in all her glory, lazily enjoying a morning siesta at Red Horse Farm here in Pagosa Springs.

When this photo was taken, I had been busy producing content and working on the final touches for my program GENUINE CONNECTIONS. I also struggled with health issues while supporting a family member during a health crisis.

I hadn't ridden Cash in over a year, when a friend of mine came to visit a couple summers ago. My friend's main goal was to advance her riding skills. 



 An Unconventional Way to (Re) Introduce the Saddle

A non-direct approach will help the horse release any preconceived notions about saddling. I am creating a clean slate for a new, positive experience where the horse feels heard and where the horse's feelings matter! I am also allowing my horse to work through her concerns in a way that's safe for her and me.


While I was able to re-engaged Cash to the saddling process in only one session after not being ridden in over a year, the actual, original process back in 2007 stretched over 3 weeks.

Take the time it takes! Only proceed with the next step when you have all green lights - more about that in the videos below. Learn to read your horse's body language and adjust your plan, actions and responses accordingly.

With this process, you are supporting your horse to become an engaged, thinking and participating (hence connected) partner.


1. If you have never saddled your horse before, this process up to the actual saddling (and using a cinch) is a great way to introduce your horse to the concept of carrying something on his back. Unless you are very experienced, I am encouraging you to seek professional, horse-friendly help for the actual first saddling. Give yourself and your horse a positive experience by setting both of you up for success!

2. Only lay the pad on your horse when you have a green light. I talk more about red and green lights in the video.

3. Once the pad is on your horse, stay at all times in the safe zone far enough away in case your horse does shy, spook, jump, kick... so she will not kick you or jump on top of you.

This video series is split in 4 parts to give you the opportunity to learn this subject, even when you have little time (7-16 minutes a day is all it takes). I suggest you grab your GC Notebook and write down what is important to you, so you can solidify your newly learned knowledge!



CONNECT TODAY and share below!

Writing down your Aha Moments will solidify your newly learned knowledge!

Plus, I'd love to hear from YOU:

What is your biggest TakeAway from this GC LIBRARY Lesson Article?

Post away below... or send me an email at [email protected]

It always warms my heart to hear from YOU!



Would you Like my Support Creating Powerful, Positive and Lasting Change for You AND Your Horse?

Versus using Quick Fix Solutions that can hurt the Relationship with your horse while never addressing the Real Root Cause...

Then check out my new, step by step CONFIDENCE for HORSE and HUMAN PROGRAM with Weekly Live Q&A Sessions (and so much more) by clicking on the pic below: