Aslan: Out First Meeting
I met Aslan today. First impression: very laid back. A little too so when leading. He stays way behind and drags on the rope. Nice problem to have in my opinion. I hate horses that push into your space.
He could use a bit more desensitization. He is very sensitive to touch in some areas. I put the saddle on and he moved away slightly. Some apprehension in his eyes and his head was up. He could use some work with the saddle pad being thrown over him repeatedly. Case in point: I was told that he hadn't worn a saddle in several months, but he had been ridden bareback by kids.
Aslan is also pretty soft and chubby. The girth almost wasn't long enough. When it was tightened, he side stepped fearfully. He blew out his nostrils a bit, so lots of anxiety around the saddling process. He is clearly cinchy, but he didn't hunch up or threaten to buck. He just showed a lot of uncertainty.
I tried some lateral bending. Wow is he ever stiff in all directions. If you pull down, he resists, if you go left or right, he resists. Jiggling the rope helps with encouraging a downward head. But pulling it just gets a pull back. His overweight condition also makes it so he can only bend so far laterally. Left is better than right, but just barely. Also note that he was only in a plain brown leather halter, so he was able to pull back easily and lean against the pressure.
I threw the rope at him to see his reaction. He did react with some fear but nothing explosive. No major bolting away, easy to keep up with him. Eventually he did relax. So I did both sides. He did NOT try to push into my space which I appreciate. I also did some lunging. He has no problem but he does pull on the rope a lot and also tries to yield his hindquarters. I assumed he was a bit lazy but later was told it may be more of a sign of being unsure. This made him easy to "whoa" at least lol
He was also nervous about the loud noise of banging on the saddle and any saddle slippage. Both of these things occurred in the natural course of business and he reacted. I jumped up and leaned over and patted/rubbed. I did make some noise on the seat and noticed the fear.
Finally after much testing and fiddling, I got on. Note that mounting does elicit some nervous movement. I didn't feel too safe, considering his fear and a lack of lateral mouth. I had the lady stand in front and hold him for a second. Then I asked for a slow walk (I didn't fit the saddle to well either, no stirrups!)
He was very sensitive to touch on his sides. Asking for forward movement took little pressure. Almost no response to single leg. I asked for bend and hindquarter disengagement and it took a long time and was very stiff. I put one leg on and pulled and finally got a single step. Worse on the right than on the left. Even asking for a right circle or turn was very very stiff.
Stop was pretty good all considering. I lightly picked u on the halter reins and he stopped immediately. I guess he wanted to since he was so unsure. Jiggle also got a slight head lowering. (Yay!).
Mares and other horses did stop by. I was worried he would get nervous considering his behavior, but he didn't care and he didn't act studly either!
Getting off of him also elicited a nervous side step.
But over all, I really like that despite his fears, he is very tolerant and not reactive. Yes he reacts, but not some of the horses I have met. This type of stuff is very easy for me to desensitize and get him over the fear. I would have a hard time if he was terribly scared and bolting and rearing and bucking. That would just be too much for my skills at this time and it would make me very afraid. I would not be helpful to the horse. So I do like him and I think that with my abilities, I can train him.