Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Had the best ride today!

That Mac, he sure does keep me on my toes! After a couple weeks of not riding because it was snowy and cold, it finally got warm enough that my fingers wouldn't freeze off when riding. I've ridden in the new saddle a few times in the arena and on the trail and there's a bit of rolling side-to-side, so the saddler is going to send me some shims and I have a new saddle pad on order. I also ordered myself some offset-twisted stirrups so that twisting the fenders won't hurt my knees. I did get them pre-twisted, but with my right knee (where I had surgery), it still isn't enough. I should get the shims and pad this week and the stirrups will come later. Hopefully they'll do the trick. In the meantime, I have been on a few trail rides and LOVE this saddle for trail riding! It is really comfortable and one day I almost thought I had a heated seat! Really, I don't know how/why it would feel that way, but my buns were toasty warm and comfortable.

Until I get the rolling sorted out I've been doing arena work in my dressage saddle. We took a week off during the holiday when my parents were visiting so I just got on again the other day. Boy Mac was a spitfire! Some days he wants to play along and some days he just doesn't.

I got out my lunging caveson and so have been doing some lunging/groundwork before getting on (I was inspired by a Philippe Karl video that showed him doing groundwork with a young stallion before riding). A couple days we had lovely and impressive leaps in the air, but the last couple of times have been uneventful. I work on large circles, spiraling in/out, trotting over poles, and circumnavigating the arena with a series of circles. Then I do shoulder in and haunches in in-hand, and finish with some flexions in hand.

The past two rides I had were absolutely fantastic!!!!! I think it helped that he was able to loosen up and stretch over his back without me up first, and then after doing some specific exercises at the walk we went to the canter. That really seemed to get him loose and supple and so the rest of the ride was just great. I'm on cloud nine. It was one of those rides that I just want to tell everyone about, so here I am. We worked on transitions, SI/HI, counter canter, collected trot - medium trot, and some cavaletti pole work (cloverleaf pattern). He felt really straight and supple and light and forward and it was just wonderful!

I'll try to get a video or at least some photos in the new saddle when I've got it set up to my liking.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 6, 2013

I got my saddle . . . yes, really!!!!

I received the saddle Wednesday evening but didn't have a chance to do anything with it other than take a picture, because it was time to feed the horses dinner and do my chores. If you'll remember, I got a Crestridge saddle - they built a Wade seat on a Sentry tree, since Mac had been fitted with the Sentry and seemed to like it. Based on his measurements that I sent in, they thought he'd need and extra-wide vs. a wide. I had tried both on him, but on different days so didn't have a complete chance to compare one to the other, but I do remember that he went better in the extra-wide than in the wide. The thing I didn't like about the EW, though, was that the twist (area between your thighs) was too wide. But I liked the width of the twist in the W tree. So they built up the seat so that it feels like a W even though the tree is EW.

Yesterday I went for a first ride. The bad news is that because it is so cold we drained the water out of our irrigation pipes so I couldn't water my arena and the footing is very hard and frozen. The good news is that I did get to at least make adjustments (took me forever to figure out how to lengthen the stirrups with the Nevada twist in there!) so that the stirrups are right for me! We walked around for a bit and went for a short trail ride.

I couldn't decide between a 15" seat and a 16" seat, so went with 15.5". I'm really happy with the 15.5" seat. The 15" would have been too small and while I think the 16" would work, I'd probably have to scoot my butt back to get into the sweet spot of the saddle, and then my legs wouldn't be underneath me as they are with the 15.5". With this saddle I feel more like I can move with him in the saddle vs. moving IN the saddle (with a seat that's too big), if that makes any sense.

Some things that I pay attention to with Mac to know if he likes a saddle or not will help me decide if/how well he likes it; so far the signs are good. Mac stood completely still for saddling and didn't try to bite the side of the trailer or the air or turn around to try to take a bite out of me. He stood happy and relaxed and patiently while I tacked him up (and spent 10 minutes or so trying to adjust the fenders); when I was feeling under and all around the saddle, he "dropped" and so I think he was pretty happy and relaxed! Another thing I monitor on him is how he walks down hill. When he's feeling good and he's happy with his tack he is very forward going down hill, which he was today for the short little ride we went on.

I love the color - I was worried that it might be a bit yellow, based on the color swatches on their website, but it is a lovely chestnut color. The craftsmanship is excellent and it looks and feels very well made - moreso than some more expensive saddles that I tried where I found irregularities and uneven work.

We're supposed to have rain and snow for the next couple of days so I think I'll be able to go for a long trail ride on Sunday - I didn't ride long enough yesterday to get a good sweat pattern to look at.

One suggestion I might offer to the company would be to number the holes on the fenders because I had to take the long strap down and count from the bottom to make sure I got them on the same holes. I don't anticipate changing stirrup length a lot, but it would have minimized some frustration up front when my fingers were frozen and didn't work very well!

Their saddles are made so that you can "center-firing" the rigging (use the back ring you see in the picture above, as well as the front ring - this stabilizes the saddle more on the horse's back). I'm familiar with this and have done it before on another saddle, but there are only 11 holes in the latigo (the holes only go halfway down the latigo) so I don't actually have a hole to put the cinch buckle in. My cinch is long enough that with other saddles I've tried I've been able to use this feature. So I'm thinking that my latigo should either have more holes or perhaps I need to get a bigger cinch? On their video I see that the cinch ring is right up by the bottom of the saddle but my cinch is only long enough to go just above the elbows.

Looking forward to a long trail ride on Sunday so I can get a better idea of how it feels for Mac, but so far I like it!