Saturday, November 24, 2012

All out of excuses

Ooooh, boy.

It's that time of year when I start feeling like a fair weather rider again. And I really have no excuse this year. Last year, I could blame it on not having lights in the arena: I can't ride when it's dark!

Not this year. I have lights so I can ride any freakin' time I feel like it.

Which is the problem. When it starts getting downright cold and windy, I don't really feel like it. I could have gone riding yesterday: I had the day off, it was sunny and not freeze-your-butt-off cold. But dang, it was WINDY and that wind was whipping right through me and chilling me to the bone.

So, I didn't ride and I felt guilty about it all evening, beating myself up for being a wussy fair weather rider.

All summer (spring and fall, too) long, when the weather is amenable, I make claims that I don't mind riding in the cold. And really, I don't, if I can convince myself to get out there and get on. It's the getting out and there and getting on that's the challenge. Once I'm on and riding the cold is no big thing (until you dismount, of course, and land on frozen feet that feel like every bone has shattered when you hit the ground).

We haven't even had much rain this year, so I can't use the mud as an excuse.

I have lights, I have a dry and usable arena, I have warm clothes and gloves and a hat - I have no more excuses!

Today, I will ride when I get home from work. Even if it's for just a short time, I will ride and I will be happy that I did.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Tack Woes

I love knowing that I've been working Gabe correctly. I can feel it in the way he moves, he seems very happy in his work and is able to do the things I ask with more ease because he's carrying himself more efficiently and in much, much better balance. I can see the muscling in his neck, shoulder and back changing for the better. The boy is bulking up and becoming broader and stronger and his topline looks fantastic.

Which is a very good thing.

And a very bad thing.

My saddle, which was already an iffy fit to begin with, definitely no longer fits. At all. The tree is way too narrow on bulky boy's bigger body. In the last couple of weeks I've been having major issues with it sliding backwards significantly, a good indicator that it doesn't fit any more.

On top of that I've recently finished two rides and he has been sore on both sides just behind his withers, the place where the points of the saddle tree poke into him. Those points that once sat nicely and parallel to his withers, are now digging in and making him sore. Ugh. My poor boy.

I really, really need a new saddle, one that fits and doesn't make him sore, the sooner, the better. This is a situation where padding up to make it fit isn't an option. With a saddle that is already too snug, padding up will only make it worse.

I love saddle shopping when I have the cash to purchase a new saddle, but, I don't. I absolutely LOVE the saddle I have now. I've had it for 10 years, it still looks new (yes, I'm a little bit obsessive about cleaning it) and I love the way it fits me. But, it doesn't fit him, and that's very, very important, especially as he continues to muscle out and become more fit. He is such a pleasure to ride and obviously loves whatever we do, and I don't want to destroy that attitude by forcing him to do things that leave him sore and painful at the end of it all.

When we started this work I fully intended to take flexible ruler measurements of his withers and back every week and keep tracings of them in a book so I'd have a visual way to track his progress. I failed, so, while I know and can see the shape and size of his back has changed, I can't even begin to say how much. I can only say its' enough that the saddle now fits like a shoe that's three sizes too small.

Any recommendations for a good all-purpose type saddle that comes in a wide tree that will fit a high-withered Thoroughbred? He is going to be a challenge to fit properly.