It really is. Everything that "scares" her is completely related to something near her feet. Take today, for example: She doesn't care that the girth buckles are jingling, or that I drape it all over her back, or that I touch her belly with it...but the second those little buckles brush her leg she's up in the air, trying to run away. Considering you can stand there for hours with a lunge whip trying to make her trot, this behavior is just a little out of proportion.
I've worked on this with her before, and stupidly assumed that just like with everything else, it would only take one session for her to be fine with it. So I started out again today with my makeshift surcingle (an English girth and two stirrup leathers), but I spooked her just as I got started. So we worked with that for about fifteen minutes, and she decided that it wasn't going to eat her, but that she should still be wary of it. Something about anything near her legs/knees/feet just freaks her out--this is despite the fact that I can now pick up her front feet and hold them, which she is starting to understand isn't the biggest deal ever.
When she was good enough to try cinching it up, I realized that my little contraption was a bit long. I traded the English girth in for the western one, which is shorter and doesn't jingle nearly as much. She was a star as I tightened it up (not too tight, but just tight enough to keep it on). When I took a picture of her wearing it, she was looking at me with a silly expression on her face, and I know she was thinking that humans do the strangest things some days...
Then we walked off, took some loops around the arena and the property, and she acted like she didn't even care. Such a star. She doesn't mind being away from the other horses, and walking outside of the arena really makes her lead up well, because she's actually interested in what's doing on outside.
Before I started the session with her today, I saddled up Brandy (in the western saddle), and gave Sage a chance to look at it. She sniffed it several times on her own while I was saddling up and had it slung over the arena wall. No hesitation, just curiosity.
I had quite a bit of fun because I've decided that despite Brandy's lameness issues, she is sound enough to ride a little bit at a time and just at a walk. Brandy is a nice, laid-back little mare and one of the most promising horses I've ever worked with. Just before she went lame a few years ago, she was almost at the point where I would trust anyone to take her out alone on a trail ride. She really loved to go out and work. But physically, she just can't do that. She hasn't been ridden in quite some time, and today she just let me hop up and walk a few circles in the arena as though nothing had even changed.
Sage got a good wake up call watching this happen, and at first she thought something must be terribly wrong. Brandy's steadiness quickly reassured her, but she definitely thought everything she saw today was very strange. Poor little kid--her turn soon! But right now she's out enjoying the sunshine and green grass, not phased a bit by her training. And that's how it should be. :)