That's it. I need a new saddle. I knew my saddle didn't fit Gabe quite as well as it should, but I really didn't know how badly it fit him until I broke out the measuring wire last night.
We rode fairly hard last night (he was FULL of himself! More on that in a minute) so he was sweating. And there was sweat under the saddle everywhere but on either side of his withers. Bone dry. Not good. That means the saddle fits too snugly and is too narrow. Keep in mind that this measurement was taken with him not being ridden most of the winter, so, he will only get wider as he gets fitter. Really not good. A tight saddle is like wearing too small shoes: Very, very uncomfortable and can be permanently damaging to the tissue/nerves/muscle.
I put the wire over his withers two fingers behind the shoulder blades, molded it in place and compared it to the gullet in my saddle. Collectively the gullet on my saddle is over an inch too narrow for this big guy's extra wide back. Surprising on a Thoroughbred, eh? He is not shark-fin withered like a lot of TBs, but he does have a wither...it's just REALLY WIDE, more like a warmblood than a Thoroughbred.
So, a new saddle is in order. I am torn right now between just continuing to ride with the current saddle until I get a new one or riding in my really sweet Baretek saddle until I can afford a new saddle. It would be different if the saddle was too big...then I could just pad it up. Not ideal, but better than too small.
The new saddle I would love to have is a Kieffer Aachen or a Kieffer Munchen...both a bit prohibitively priced. I may have to lower my standards a bit.
The only problem...the Baretek has no stirrups. Gabe still has stupid moments that may make riding with no stirrups slightly idiotic and perhaps more than a little bit suicidal.
There it is. My tack doesn't fit properly. I'm a bad horse mommy. See the guilt written all over my face? It's true. I feel bad for squishing my huge horse into what amounts to a pair of ill-fitting stilettos.
And, now for yesterday's ride. The day was gorgeous. The weather: warmer but still a bit nippy. The wind: Blowing. Gabe: High as a freaking kite.
He tried to kill me as I led him on the lunge to the arena. Of course, it didn't help that my husband turned Calypso out into the pasture and she went ape-shit bananas right towards us. Gabe was walking nicely next to me then BAM! Calypso ran at us bucking and farting and squealing and I guess Gabe thought he should do the same. Right next to me. That big dork even squealed like a girl as he reared up and started farting around on the lunge line. Grrr...Bad manners horse, I have him.
Fortunately Chief just stood by and watched the antics of the young'uns instead of trying to kill my daughter who was waiting patiently for the fart/buck/squeal fest to end before mounting. Good girl! Good Chief. He's one-in-a-million.
It took me a good 20 minutes to lunge all the stupids out of him and he was a naughty, naughty boy: Bucking, rearing, hopping (yes, hopping!) and trying to dash off without me. So, I made his butt work. Direction changes, spiral-in, spiral-out, over the trot poles, gate changes...everything I could think of to bring his brain back down to earth and out of ozone land.
Finally, he settled enough that I could get on without worrying about an immediate, unexpected dismount face-first.
And he was excellent. More direction and pace changes, circles, serpentines and a few good rounds of cantering the perimeter of the arena. We had a couple head-ducking threaten-to-buck moments but a sharp vocal reminder from me and a low growl stopped that particular performance from following all the way through. We even managed a couple of really decent lateral steps at the walk and the trot. Yay for sensitive sides!
We had foam, lots of thick, white foam on his lips and a whole lot LESS mouthing of the bit. I did tighten the figure-8 noseband a hole. It's still not snug, but snugger than it was last week. No arguments from him this time.
I hope to ride again today and really get the training program underway. May the sun gods and goddesses continue to shine down on us and keep the clouds and rain and ickiness away. At least for a week. All I ask for is a whole week of mud-free riding!