After our last ride I thought that maybe my dressage saddle was bothering Dulce a little bit (see that? Dulce! New name! Must start using it! My friend Margie and I came to the name independent of each other and since she's a smart cookie, that should be his name!) so I spent a little time last week trying to see what other saddles I have that might be a good fit. I thought my jumping saddle would be the best option, but also kept my treeless trail saddle in the back of my mind.
For some reason today I decided to ride in the trail saddle. I do love this saddle for trail riding but haven't been a fan of it for arena work and stick to my guns on that after today. Oh, I also thought I'd try the bitless bridle because of his need for dental work. I put the bitless bridle on and he seemed to be fine with it and actually seemed like he was used to being ridden like that before. Anyway, what gave me trouble was the saddle. The stirrups are too far back (granted, they are adjustable - I should adjust them) and they are a tad long and it just feels like it puts me out of the right position. Dulce agreed, as he put his head down and gave a little hop...he hasn't acted like that before and since I wasn't feeling balanced anyway I decided to go for a tack change.
I took Dulce back to the cross ties and put my jumping saddle on with the other bridle with the Nathe bit. I grabbed the longe line and went back to the arena.
Well lo and behold, Dulce knows something about being longed. It is hard to get him started because he wants to face me so I have to hurry up and scoot toward his butt but far back enough away from him that if he acts out then he won't get me. Finally I got into position and he went out on the line and we actually longed! I thought it would take forever to get to longing! I know he's had a lot of round pen work, so maybe the body positioning is similar enough that the addition of a longe line isn't that big of a deal.
We longed in both directions at the trot and canter. Anything less than a trot and he wants to turn and come into me. We spent a little time at the halt with him standing and me facing his side in a modified longing position and trying to keep him from turning in to me. This will require some work and practice, but I know that I can get him going and give him a bit of work and I can watch him go. He's got a cute trot!
After longing him in both directions, I got on and off a few times, then back on and we had a little school in the arena. Just a little walk/halt/walk, walk/trot/walk, circles, etc. He was very good in the jump saddle and I think I will keep schooling him in this saddle for now. We finished our ride by walking down the ditch and he was very good when a deer went bounding across the trail in front of us. He walked out and back nicely, with no shenanigans.
Another day of progress. Oh, but he's scared to death of fly spray!!! Sigh.