Mississippi 3 year old Paso Fino working in  Halter and Western Saddle in round pen.

Question: Three year old filly training just started. She accepts lounging and saddling with no problems. After several days of being saddled and turned loose in the round
pen, she has started kicking at her tail. I have wrapped her tail to raise it up and she stopped kicking but still is scared of the wrapped tail. any suggestions?

From Panelist Laura

Sounds like this is something she will just have to get used to.  Keep  working her quietly and pretty much ignore her acting scared of her tail.  Are you sure she's not reacting to the saddle or other tack?  You can start de-spooking her by waving blankets around her, be sure she is in a safe place like a round pen, so she can run away a little and get a good look at whatever you are waving at her.   After she gets used to seeing something being waved around, you could tie strips of cloth to the saddle and let her get used to seeing strange things waving around her while she is moving.  Let her wear the "scary" stuff until she relaxes and will stand quietly.  Then put on something else scary.  Don't do this all in one day - try new scary things on consecutive days.  BUT don't put her up until after she relaxes with each new object.  You don't want to give her a horsey heart attack but 
you also want her to learn that this stuff won't hurt her.

From Panelist Erica

I would work on your filly, getting her used to things behind her and accepting them calmly. Working with a rope around her hindquarters and along her hind legs. Or even a dressage whip to rub down the backs of her legs. 

She sounds overly sensitive to the new saddle and the only thing she can think of that is causing it is her tail - of which it isn't, but helping her get through and over this obstacle will help her in future training sessions in which you introduce new things.

With a rope, you can sling it over the horn of the saddle and let it fall over her rump, but keep it above her hocks while she goes around the pen. Once she relaxes and accepts the rope, reward her and change sides, then allow it to fall a little lower on her legs. Never allow it to become so long and loose as to catch her hind feet and get tangled.

Erica Frei

Fraom Panelist Jonathan

Wow! This is different . I have a gut feeling you are leaving some info out of your question! When exactly did the symptom start , ie; when you first put her under saddle ? When you finished with a series of  long term longing ? After sitting her for the first time ? Have you been up on her yet ? 
I know some "heavy spanish blooded" types can be VERY REACTIVE , to a fault . I know , I have one I have been working on for 2 + years . Did she react in any manner that would lead you to believe she has pulled or twisted something ? Have you had a vet look at her ?  Never heard of this "tail kicking " before so i will have to relate it to facts I know . Sounds to me like she hurts back there and it may not be her tail . This is one for a on-hand exam by a vet or good Chyro. 

Sorry I don't have more for you .


From Panelist Liz

In this case I would unwrap the tail and continue to lounge her and saddle her just as you have as well as let her be loose for long periods of time in the round pen. Her tail will always be there and for what ever reason she has decided to react to it , she needs to get
past this. She will eventually , it could stop in a few days or take weeks. Each animal can be very different .

When she starts kicking at her tail do not give her a reaction. Just let her be if she is loose
and if you are lounging just keep going with the lesson and she will figure it out on her own. Do not unsaddle her because she is kicking at her tail.  I have found working several days in a row is important to teaching a horse. Not one day and then skipping a day. Especially
if you see a problem developing such as this.

Be sure your round pen is a safe one that when she is kicking at the tail she can not kick and get a leg hung in a rail . 3/4 inch plywood lining of the inside of a round pen is a good safety barrier. 

Please be careful and don't get in the line of fire when she is kicking.


Fraom Panelists Theresa

You mentioned she was fine for three days, then began bucking "at her tail".
Three things cross my mind:
1) Visual disturbance/saddle fit
2)  Health/Pain
3) Hormones

1)  I would wonder if the horse is actually seeing the stirrups of the
saddle and kicking at those. Try turning her loose without the saddle in the
round pen. Does she still kick?If so it could be the tail.  If not, place
the saddle on her back,  place the stirrups on the seat of the saddle and
tie with a piece of twine. Do you get the kicking reaction now?  If so,
have you had the saddle checked for proper fit? Is she possibly responding
to a pinchy girth? If not work her this way for a few days, then bring the
stirrups back down when she gets comfortable with the routine of things.

2)  If all of the above check out ok, then you may choose to have a
chiropractic exam (fairly common to see  a young horse with a locked sacrum
and be painful upon movement requiring back end impulsion) . It also wouldnt
hurt to evaluate for  reproductive problem (check for held follicles)
selenium, Vit E, and EPSM (not EPM, but equine polysaccharide storage

3) Is she coming into heat? Does she cycle normally? If this goes away and
return, chart it on your calendar and see if there is a pattern. Contact
your vet for hormone options if there is a clear pattern.


From Panelist Stella

The unfamiliar sensation of the saddle has her heightened her awareness of all tactile sensations, new and old. Just because a horse is not overtly bucking and running doesnt mean they have accepted the saddle and are relaxed with it. She is likely roaching her back against it somewhat, which often causes the tail to tuck between the legs more than normal. Being you are using a western saddle, be sure that it is fitting her properly, this is 
most important for them to accept and relax wearing it. The arabian and barrel type saddles tend to fit Pasos best; many QH bars are too wide, and skirts too long, touching and rubbing the hips, which can cause roaching. Personally, I like starting with a simple surcingle, adding a pad, then a light saddle without stirrups or tied or run up, so that they can get used to new sensations a little at a time; a large saddle with loose stirrups can 
be overwhelming.

Wrapping the tail simply adds another new element for her to worry about; her tail has always been there, and its best just to leave unwrapped. Rather than turn her loose, give her some confidence by walking her with the saddle on with the lead; lunging her at a walk and slower forward speeds, gradually encouraging her to stay relaxed, where you can control her easily, help build her confidence. She sounds like she may be a little timid and 
generalizing her "fears of the unknown," yet wants to please you. Breaking things up into very small steps she can easily and successfully accomplish will help build her confidence and willingness towards the next step, without her "suspicion" about new things. Be encouraging, but dont rush her. Spend as much time as you need until you are sure she's accepting of saddle, and having things touch her everywhere(maybe some more gentle sacking out concurrently as well). Once she realizes that you are never introducing 
anything she really needs to be fearful of, and has better understanding of what is happening to her, you can go on in the training process. From that point, things should go more smoothly.


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