Flirt moved back down to the Cowboys a couple days ago where I'm able to work with her a little more consistently. A little more, because it's DRY there in the arena, and not here at home. She's back in the former broodmare barn, but this time around, she's the only horse there. While I don't know how she feels about that, I do know that it allows her to be in the super long stall (30'!) and I don't have to worry about her thinking about how to climb out to visit anyone overnight.
Since kicking me last month, I haven't worked with Flirt at all with the saddle blanket. While here at home I simply visited and lunged a few times. I attached a big plastic bag to the end of the lunge whip on one morning and rubbed it all over her; she didn't mind. But she also hadn't minded the plastic bag or my jacket being rubbed on her last month, prior to kicking, so whether it would do any good or not I did not know.
So to help her acclimate to the idea of a saddle pad, I laid it over the rail of the stall gate, and as you can see, this was not a problem for Flirt. She ate hay that lay beneath it and rested her head on it while watching me work in the barn. Simply not a problem. I picked it up and rubbed her face and neck (standing safely on my side of the gate), and she didn't mind. I slid it down her neck to her back. No reaction outside of wondering why wasn't I taking her out of her stall?
The Cowboy has created a round pen inside of his arena recently, so I led Flirt there and lunged her a bit. Then I took off my jacket and rubbed it on her face, down her neck and shoulders, and finally on her back. Nothing. I did it again on her other side. Big, deep sigh. I laid it over her back and led her in a few circles. She acted like we'd been doing this since the day she arrived. No thought of taking off for the hills, just me and my buddy going for a walk. I gave her a pat, put my coat back on and turned her loose for a few minutes. And while Flirt walked around sniffing the dirt, I went to the back barn and picked up the saddle pad. May as well, right?
When I returned, Flirt was at the arena gate to meet me. She didn't care a whit about the pad in my hand. I rubbed her face and neck, just like we'd done in the stall, and like I'd done with the coat. She rubbed back, pushing me with her head as though to say 'touch me! Pet me!' I slipped the pad further back, past her shoulder, over her back. I lifted the corner and slapped it up and down a couple of times. I pulled it off and repeated from the other side. Nothing more than a patient yearling, waiting for me to finish whatever I was doing. I led her in a few more circles, pulled the pad, tossed it back on, pulled and tossed, pulled and tossed. And Flirt just stood there wondering what the big deal was.