Saddles

I just bought a dressage saddle for $50 bucks. Haha. The lady said it was a 1998 Stateline saddle. I’ve never heard of that manufacturer before (that’s not saying much). If it fits Ava, maybe it’ll be my backup saddle. If it doesn’t, I’m sure my trainer wouldn’t mind a free schooling saddle for her kids.

I wish I had the money to buy a good, newer saddle. I love my County (it’s from 1992), but it seems built for a much taller person. No matter how much I work on heel, hip, shoulder alignment, my thighs always slide forward. There’s a nice groove in the flap that is perfect for a taller woman’s thigh to sit in. My thighs (to sit correctly) lay against a buldge in the flap. My trainer, who is much taller than me, loves my saddle. However, I am always in chair position with that saddle… no matter what I do.

Interesting article on saddle fitting:
http://www.showhorsepromotions.com/saddlefitting.htm

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Engagement

I rode yesterday, even though it was pretty dang hot. The more I avoid working her in hot weather, the more unfit she gets. So we bit the bullet and rode anyway.

Ava was STIFF. Usually with Ava, this is a result of not being straight. She was popping her right shoulder out on me. So I put her in a small counter flexion, and did a couple decreasing circles to the left while leg yielding. It seemed to help, and I had more connection with the outside rein.

On a side note: Ava is convinced that if she throws her body out of the ring that I’ll HAVE to stop working her and go for a trail ride. She stated this very bluntly when I asked for the left canter lead near the opening. She’s enjoying her new roll as a trail pony a tad too much I think. 😉

I felt like (even though she’s out of shape) that Ava was more engaged during the ride. At least during portions of it. This was something I was working on at my previous barn, but had issues motivating her to work harder.

I’m going riding again tonight. Hopefully the bombers are kinder than they were last night. Ugh! Although, Ava stood quietly as I fiercely attempt to protect her. I thought, “trying to slap horse flies on various parts of a horses body, while astride, is a good way of increasing balance and flexibility”. Then I thought… “I’ve never smacked Ava on the butt really hard before… Maybe I should hold on to the reins!!”

Rain, Bombers, & Holes

I take back everything I said about the backyard rider. I didn’t know! I’ve been so ignorant. 🙂 I remember an idealized childhood of riding everyday at my parents home.

It’s HARD to ride consistently without good footing or a covered arena. I much prefer both of those options.

I’ve almost admitted defeat of my 3 month outdoor riding goal. We are 23 days into it and I’m dreaming of dry, covered arenas. I had hoped this trial would help Ava mentally, and help me overcome my fear of riding outdoors. I must admit, we’ve grown a lot as a pair. The first trail ride I took on Ava at the beginning of the month was a half hour of stress and tension (on my part, not Ava’s). We’ve been gradually improving. Even taking the lead at times. And we venture out into the field out back with semi-confidence. The large, hidden, bird helped me. It flapped and squaked when we trotted past. Ava jumped five feet sideways and slammed the brakes on. I was jerked sideways, but I stayed on!! Not falling off really helps with the whole confidence/fear issues I have . 😉

Anyway, riding outdoors without an area with good footing is not recommended for dressage training. I’m just hoping she doesn’t lose every bit of muscle we worked so hard to develop the past 6 months. It’s hard to ride when it’s pouring rain, the grass is slick, and the flies are horrendous. Kudos to those who do it on a regular basis. You have my admiration.

Monday’s

I’m boarding my horse at a friends house for a few months in order to take advantage of her beautiful, plentiful, trails. But… It’s presenting a problem with my dressage training. I was finally able to mow down a section of the field way out behind the house (actually, my husband mowed it).

So after 20+ days of really not doing anything, we’ve started our training again. Monday was horrible. I had to work her in the round pen for several minutes. I should preface this with an explanation…..

I rode as a kid. From 11 to about 20 years old I rode everything and anything. I trained (with the immense help of Bernadette Radke) my half Arab to third level, broke out two horses which went on to be successful well behaved riding horses. I had no fear, and was very successful in my showing career.

Fast forward 16 years. I hadn’t ridden since I was 20 and the first horse I buy bucks me off every other ride.

A few years ago I compression fractured 3 vertebrae to the point that I lost half an inch in height. Falling hurts now! I’m stiff in ways I never knew I could be. I am petrified of getting hurt again. I was scared to death of that little horse, but every day I went out and rode praying nothing too serious would occur. I finally admitted defeat and sold him, and purchased Ava. A cute little friesian/paint cross mare. She’s a little fiery at times, but over all very safe. However, I’m still petrified of being bucked off, or having a horse rear and flip over on me. Anything else doesn’t bother me. But the “what if’s” kill me.

So, back to Monday… Ava was so determined she wasn’t going to bend, turn, stop, or stand. We worked in the round pen for a bit until I felt she was listening a little. Then braved the wide open field. I put my right leg on for a leg yield, and nothing. I bump her… Nothing. I whack her with the whip, and she kicks out. This is the mare that would effortlessly leg yield across an entire arena with a soft shift of weight. I hate starting at square one again!
Arrgh!

By the end of the short ride, she was moving away from my leg. Not straight, and not with any real ambition to trot out, but she was at least moving away. So we stopped there and went for a walk.