Tuesday, October 29, 2013

New videos!

Actually, I'll start off by saying I ordered a new saddle - a Crest Ridge. It will have the bars of the Sentry but the seat/horn of the Wade model. I hope I like it! I know the Sentry bars fit Mac and it turns out the extra-wide should fit him better than the wide. Now I wait for six weeks or so! Can't wait to report back with hopefully good news that we both like it!

Now to videos. I got Colin to video my ride on Sunday and I was so pleased. Usually when I get a video of my riding, I don't like it or it doesn't look like how it feels. Or when I know the camera is rolling I get tense and then don't have a good ride. But on Sunday I didn't have tension, had a great ride, and only had to edit out one small part that I didn't like.

Here is the first of four clips. This is our warmup where we did some baby lateral work like shoulder in and leg yield and then canter.

The second clip shows us doing trot work. It is hard to get a feel for what we were doing because the straightaways were sort of at the wrong angle, but we were shortening the stride on the short side of the arena and lengthening (which compared to a normal horse looks just like a regular trot!) on the long side.

In the third clip we are working on walk-canter-walk transitions on a figure eight. You can hear me telling him what a good boy he is after one of the transitions.

The last clip is doing a few small canter circles. This is new work for us and a bit more challenging because he has to keep himself together and not fall apart.

I'm trying to ride him in a more "up" frame (which is a word I hate, but you know what it means) and balance it out with stretching. These videos are finally a place where I can look back to see really great progress with Mac. He's doing so well in his work and even if he might get frustrated, he tries and he never says no. I love that horse!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

New saddle!

Gotcha! I still don't have a new saddle!

I tried a couple McCall saddles - well, I actually only tried one on Mac because on the other one I could feel the stirrup leather on the underside of the saddle and didn't want to bother riding Mac in it because I'd be worried that it would be a pressure point for him. The other one I did try but didn't buy it for a few reasons - for one it was too wide and/or had too much rock in the bars. Another reason was that I was less than impressed with the workmanship - there were a couple of things that were not right in that saddle and it made me leery of ever buying one.

I've been to the tack store and gotten a few saddles on trial but none of them worked, either.

My saddle fitter came out again on Thursday and brought a couple Steele saddle tree forms with her so that we could put them on Mac's back and see what's what. Well, wouldn't you know - the trees that were the worst fit on him were QH and FQH. Of course that is what most factory made saddles are built on. They have too much rock and angle for Mac's back. And wouldn't you know what IS a good fit for him? A MULE tree! Mule trees are shorter in the bars and also have less rock than other trees. So now at least I have an idea of how to continue my search. While she was here I tried a Crest Ridge Sentry on him and liked it. I had tried one at our last appointment but found the twist too wide. This one that I tried was narrower and felt very comfortable - while the twist felt narrower, it didn't feel too narrow so that it felt like my seatbones were hanging off the side. Now I need to contact the Crest Ridge people to talk to them about trees and what they have in stock. Other saddles that were suggested were Allegany so I'll get in touch with them as well. Close . . . I'm so close!

In the meantime, Mac continues to do well in our dressage saddle. Today we worked on 15-meter canter circles and counter-canter. He seems to have grasped the concept of shoulder-in and so that has been a fun progression. We do a little shoulder-in, switch to haunches-in, then strike off into the canter. We do simple changes. We do fun cavaletti exercises with trot-canter transitions thrown in the mix. It is like weight lifting for horses! A trail ride is on the agenda for tomorrow, it is always nice to get out of the arena and goof around on a loose rein.

Sad news

It is with much sadness that I report that Tomato, my husband's horse, had to be put down a couple weeks ago. Tomato had an acute neurologic episode last year and since then had been managed with daily Previcox. A couple months ago the Previcox was losing its effect and Tomato became more ataxic to the point where he could not walk in a straight line. Instead of waiting for the time when he might fall down and hurt himself, or someone else, or when he would go down and not be able to get up, we let him go on a beautiful fall day after grazing in the pasture and enjoying a mouthful of carrots.

Rest in peace, Tomato. You were most definitely the best horse - full of heart and strength and leadership and kindness and I enjoyed our conversations. Even though Colin didn't believe it, I know you understood me and always answered my questions with a shake or nod of the head. Little girls loved you. We loved you, too.

We do now have another companion horse, Sunny. Sunny is a 16-year-old paint who is retired due to a suspensory injury. His only job is to be here for Mac so Mac doesn't get lonely. That is working out well, but Mac is not as nice a boss as Tomato was. While Mac hasn't hurt Sunny, he's not very friendly to him, either. Sunny is very happy to have green grass to munch on . . . and a bit of alfalfa at night doesn't hurt, either!