Introducing saddle
Hi. I need help. I recently (1month ago) bought 2, four yr old alpine twins. I have spent a lot of time with them hiking around our house and they are doing great. I started them on saddles last weekend, had them tied and put them on with no issues. Yesterday I hauled them (I have two other 2.5 yr olds as well) out from the house to hike and saddled them all, I did the shy 4yr old last. He did fine, but when I un hooked him, he took off, he ran a few hot laps then just took off. I went after him,but he was ahead and got in a fence. Nothing to bad, but some burns on his front leg.  He would not move with the saddle on after that, so I took it off and we hiked just a little and I let them eat bitter brush.  Today I tried again, I have a lot of space at home,so I tried it here. Same thing except I had him on a lead. He does not want to move but he will take a few steps, but then he tries to take off. He did this 3-4 times. He will stand still with no issues. I even took the butt strap off? But moving is trouble. There are no burs on the saddle or pad. So I am wondering how to work him through this. The only thing I wonder about is that he got a vaccine right before I got him and the bump is still sensitive. The belly strap is close to that? Any thoughts? Thanks for your help. Jim
this is strange behaviour for a goat, normally they take one look at a saddle and accept it. But I have seen this reaction - not that strong - in the more shy types.

Take it slow. Put the saddle on the back, give a treat, take the saddle down. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Put the saddle on, count to five, give a treat, take it down. Count to ten, etc.

close the belly strap, give a treat, take the saddle off. Count to five, ten, etc.

Add the front and back girth, same procedure. If the back girth bothers him, teach him to accept you touching his hind legs with your hands or a brush first. Touching the hind section is something many wethers seem to hate, for me it looks like they feel it invades their privacy. Also remember that a predator would try to grab them from behind.

Whenever he starts to show signs of stress: eyes wide, ears stiffer, breathing shallow, go back a step. You might even have to teach him to accept that you lift the saddle up next to him and/or bending low to close the belly strap. Just look at how many steps it takes to put a saddle on and close the girths and you have an idea what you might have to teach in tiny steps.

When he is comfortable with the saddle on his back, ask for ONE step forward. Treat. Next step, treat. Make sure that you also release pressure on the lead rope. Then ask for two steps, three, etc.

If you suspect that there is pain involved, give him a some rest, check the area you suspect for pain response with your hands.
Sabine from Germany
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Sounds like your guy scared himself pretty good! I would definitely wait until all soreness from the vaccine is gone before saddling him again. I agree with Sabine on taking it slow and offering plenty of treats. I would also avoid saddling this goat anywhere but at home for now. If he suddenly decides to take off again there is less danger of him getting injured and you won't lose him. Home is a safer, more comfortable environment for any animal to learn new things.

Feel over his back, sides, and belly for any other possible sore spots besides the one you already know about. I agree with removing the britchen strap for now. Another thing to check is saddle fit. Is this goat particularly wide or narrow? Does he have good prominent withers, or do they sort of hide between the shoulder blades? His conformation can affect how your saddle fits, and if the tree is not right for his back then that could be what set him off in the first place. When you place the saddle on his back (unsecured), it should sit evenly front-to-back without rocking. Slide your hand from front to back underneath the saddle (palm down) and feel that the pressure is even down the length of the tree. Feel for places where you hand feels pinched or where there is space between the back of your hand and the saddle. Both are signs of a poorly fitting saddle or improper placement. See if your goat will walk with the saddle on but not cinched up. This could tell you more about the source of his fear/discomfort.

One other thing to check is that you are placing the saddle far back enough. It's easy to accidentally put the saddle too far forward where the front edge of the tree rubs the shoulder blades. This could frighten a skittish goat into bolting. A too-tight cinch can also scare a first-timer. Once you're sure that your goat is over his soreness and that the equipment fits and is adjusted correctly, I suggest saddling him up and leaving him loose with the herd until he gets used to it. Sometimes when it comes to desensitizing, a no-pressure approach is more effective than intentional training. You need to bond with this nervous goat if he's going to be a good trail companion, but for now that might better be saved for times when he's not wearing the saddle so he can fully concentrate on you.
Thanks for the advice. I worked with him tonight going slow, just sitting saddle on and taking off. Giving him treats. He did take steps and I would offer him treats but he had to move to get them. So it was all positive. I will continue this for a while. Thanks
Nice work!
Might even try to put a towel over him first. Just to get him used to having something there.
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