Saturday, March 28, 2009

Horsey Day today

Mandy and I had a nice little horsey day today.

She had her lesson this morning, which went well. She did some dressage basics, i.e., straightness, balance, riding from behind. She had some nice canter departs today! She will likely go to a show in mid May, w/t/c and possibly some cross-rails, we'll see about that. She's excited, to put it mildly.

Then we came home and had some lunch, and headed out to play with our girls before the two, yes TWO inches of rain that is supposed to start tonight.

First up was Lakota, who heard us come outside. And as I was cleaning up the yard from winter debris so we had a safe-ish place to ride, she came over to the gate and was watching us and calling. So cute. So today we tacked up properly which hasn't happened since last summer. Today, she decided the yard was scary. Maybe because it was cleaner? lol! Who knows.

So we spent a little time snorting at all the corners before settling down, which actually didn't take all that long. I decided to try ground driving, after chatting with some friends about Lakota's issues with trust in me when I'm not in front. A first for both of us.

It went better than I expected. I did have to swing the tail end of one of the reins at her rump a few times so she understood forward. She did a LOT of thinking about this, as it was quite new to her. Once I got her going forward, she moved along nicely. Whoa didn't go as well. I usually use my body, not my hands to whoa, and she whoas on a breath out and when I stop riding. Well, I couldn't really do that with ground driving, unless I turned myself into something like an anchor. So any ideas/advise would be great. When I asked for a stop, I did "breath out" which she responded to somewhat, and then I just closed my hands, and when she ran into that, it was upsetting for her. She fought the pressure a bit, then she turned sharply and wrapped one of the lines around her hind pastern and stepped on it. She didn't freak out, but she hit the pressure, felt it on her leg and wasn't too happy about it. I easily got her out of the mess, but after that she wasn't really a fan of this game anymore. She was ready to head back to the barn, which is so NOT like her, so I knew she was upset.

So I asked for one more circle, and then we took off the lines, and I mounted up.

Riding wasn't all that exciting, the roundpen was still pulled apart, I didn't feel like taking even more time to put it back together, and we're trying to get away from that crutch, anyway. So since it was only our second time out of the paddock since last fall, we stuck to just some figure 8's inside the pen, although both ends of it were open. She softened and relaxed into the pattern nicely. So after that, we called it a day. She was quite warm and sweaty considering she did nothing more than a walk. It was warm, around 55F, and she still has her full winter coat, but I think it was more emotional sweat than physical sweat, she really didn't do much at all, and the sweat was in her armpits, and her chest and underside of her neck, and behind her ears.

Mandy got this shot, which cracks me up. And of course shows how much more relaxed she was with the riding as opposed to ground driving.

Then Mandy took these two shots, which I like.

Lakota has never been a fan of kisses, but she has learned to at least humor me and tolerate them, as is obvious from this photo.

Then it was Jen's turn. She was eager for her turn to get to play. Mandy tacked her up with no problems, other than her bracing and getting worried when girthing up. I suspect that will take a good long time to overcome the old "kick in the gut" girthing process. But we went slow, one hole at a time, with a lot of reassurances, and she never moved a foot. I also remeasured Jen for the gullet size, and she measured right on the wide side of medium wide, so I decided to put the wide gullet in the Wintec with the thicker fleece pad (I really hate changing that thing, "easy-change" is a misnomer and it takes quite a bit of grunting, slamming, and swearing to get it back together). I looked more objectively at Jen's back, and she has the same conformation as Lakota, which is not a good thing. She has those huge shoulders that rotate about 4 inches under the saddle, and the same weird long withers, short back and forward girth-groove (sigh). But I was hopeful this would work for her.

So Mandy led Jen around a bit to make sure her mind was connected, and they did fine.

Mandy REALLY wanted to bring Jen out of the paddock, so we did. Jen was worried, she is an extremely herdbound horse, so considering that she did quite well. We left the gate in stages, taking breaks, turning back from time to time. I think it helped that the other 3 didn't really care that she left (although they stood at the gate and screamed for Lakota when she was out).

We made it out to the yard, and checked it all out. She was nervous, I could feel it, but she was well-behaved and tried to be brave. The ducks were flapping around, as were chickens, the goats, the goose was playing it up, it was a lot to take in for a horse that hadn't been out of the paddock in a year, and had only been out two or three times in two years. Then I took Jen for a bit, and asked her to move her feet around me, and we meandered her and there and I asked for her attention. Then Mandy laughed, and she teleported a bit, so I knew then that she was quite tense as I had suspected ,but was trying to stuff it down and be brave. So I slowed down then, and just spent some time standing and petting her, chatting with Mandy, and relaxing. And then Jen started to drop her head, blow, lick and chew, and relax. Her head was about at my waist level now. I decided that was enough emotional stuff for her today, so we slowly brought her back to the barn, stopping along the way to look at this or that.

Then Mandy hopped on her for a short bit in the paddock. Jen was a bit anxious about that, and she had a real grumpy face as we walked through the paddock. Then we stopped for a photo op, of finally trying to get a pick of Mandy in the saddle. Jen didn't look real happy, and she kept biting at Mandy's foot.

So I decided that the saddle still wasn't fitting well, and asked her to hop off. After untacking and putting our gear away, I decided at the last minute to toss the Barefoot London treeless on her, just to see how it looked. It looked OK on her, so then I asked Mandy to hop on. We went for another short walk, and I was really blown away by the difference in Jen.

so that was our day. I really hate saddle shopping. And its not in the budget, either. I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I suppose I can sell both our Wintecs and see how much I can get for them toward a Treeless for Jen. For now, I guess Mandy can share my London.


billie said...

Loved seeing all your ground and mounted work!!

We are in a weird saddle place right now too - daughter outgrowing her pony saddle but not the pony! I was thinking of also selling 2 wintecs we don't use much to get her a pony-sized dressage saddle. But the two wintecs are sort of here for a reason, and I suspect the instant they AREN'T here, the reason will arise!

I don't have the space OR the funds to have all these saddles, though, so... we're thinking on it.

I've sat in a Barefoot London treeless but haven't had one fitted - what do you think of yours? Keil Bay has a truly high wither and I'm not sure the treeless will work well on him. But I loved the way it felt.

Michelle said...

Ugh, I have been through SO MANY saddles its not even funny. I have pretty much settled on the Treeless saddles, mostly because I currently have only hard to fit horses (if I ever got my hands on the person that decided to breed these girls ..... but I love them despite all their faults!)

I love my Barefoot London! I also have a Bob Marshall western style, and it is quite literally like sitting on a sofa. That is the most confortable, secure feeling saddle, I just love it. I should have gotten it without the horn though, it is in the way to me.

About withers, I'm not really sure that high withers would make any difference. Its not like a bareback pad, where you "delicate bits" would interfer with the withers. You have a pommel in front of you, and with the padding the pommel sits up pretty high, although my girls are more mutton-withered (which makes mounting in a treeless a bit of adventure). But almost all saddle makers have different types of pommels for different wither conformations.

There are many choices out there now, I will just say, do not go with the cheap knock offs on Ebay. I've heard a lot of bad things about them, and they give treeless saddles a bad name. Make sure you go with a quality brand, like Bob Marshall, Barefoot, Trekker, Torsion, Ansur, Black Forest is a newer brand but is supposed to be a good quality (I think this is what I'm getting for my daughter after I sell the Wintecs).