Friday, December 9, 2011

Another Saddle

As I mentioned a little bit ago, I've been worrying about the fit of Bear's saddle for quite some time now.  So I decided to just get a new one and see how it goes.  I found a great deal on a used McCall wade.  It felt like a good move to make, because if it doesn't work out I should be able to turn around and sell it for the same price I paid for it.

Obligatory staircase/saddle rack shot.
We headed out to the barn this afternoon and it was cold.  Not quite super cold winter temps yet, but they are coming.  The lot had new bales, but both of our guys were tucked up into the windblock staying out of the wind and getting a little bit of sun, too.  Leading Bear out of the lot and into the barn was slow.  He was super stiff.  It is a shame that we had a bunch of rain right before the ground froze, so the winter lot is a series of treacherous, frozen bumps.  So that means he doesn't move much right now.  Hopefully this weekend it will warm just enough to thaw a little.

Inside he was content to doze while I played around with the saddle and groomed him.  It appeared to be a good fit on his back.  The tree is a little narrower than his other one, and I was initially worried that it was too tight.  But I think it hugs him quite nicely.


In the arena I did a little more groundwork and kept it rather undemanding so that he could loosen up.  His legs were still so tight.  I figured it would be a slow ride, and I just hoped the new saddle wouldn't bother him any more than he already seemed bothered (physically, that is, mentally he was happy as a clam).

I climbed on, and he was his normal, quiet Bear self.  We walked around and he loosened up in time.  After quite a few minutes of just walking along the rail it was Bear who decided he wanted to trot.  I don't always let him do that, but in some situations I figure if he wants to cruise around a little more, then we can.

So we trotted.  Last ride was really pretty bad.  His trots were fast and stiff and he was even a little anxious.  Today was completely different.  He carried his head in a level, relaxed manner and gave me a very consistent and nicely paced trot.  At times he would still stiffen up or give me a few fast steps, but it was nothing like some of our past trots, and he always stayed loose somewhere in his body.  Outside he doesn't brace much, but inside has been completely different these past few rides.  Today it was great to feel him moving freely again.

Turning some easy circles in the sun beam.  Also, you can see my awesome new birthday barn jacket.
That was most of our ride.  Only forty minutes but we spent most of it trotting around.  I worked on reminding him about the soft feel at the walk and also started asking for it more consistently at the trot.  We could get it, but it would take awhile.  I kind of feel like I'm asking too softly.  Maybe a little more firm the first few times would help him realize what I want.

For me, the saddle was interesting.  Definitely different than my other one.  It is much closer to Bear, which means I feel like my legs are spread further apart (Bear's big right now), and it also felt like there was some more leather in between me and my horse.  Perhaps partially due to the twisted stirrup leathers.  The seat is hard and firm, which I think I like, but I really just need to spend more time in it.

The plus about being closer to my horse is that we don't seem to have as many communication errors when we are backing in circles or working on a series of tight turns focusing on my legs and seat.  This was a little funny since I didn't quite feel like I was using my legs as effectively as I usually do, but if my pelvis and seat bones are more involved, then it might not matter.

So I'm hopeful that this turns out to be a good move for us.  It might not be the perfect saddle for either of us, but if Bear is moving better and staying loose and relaxed, then I think it could be a winner.  Hopefully it wasn't just a fluke ride.

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