Does It Fit?

J had some personal issues that pushed the time back when we could get together in order to have her take a look at the Crosby and tell me what she thinks. So I ended up riding in it a couple more times before she did get out.

It wasn’t the most comfortable magical ride in the world, but it definitely felt nice. I could tell the difference in the seat from it to my AP saddle. It was much easier to move around as I would need to while trotting poles and two-pointing. I tried a bit more padding by sticking my fitted pad under there but it threw off the balance a bit and I felt like I had to lean forward. So I nixed that. I did take Scarlet over some jumps in it. It was much easier to move with him. I always felt like I needed to be prepared before getting to the jump in my two-point because I couldn’t just let the jump come to me in my Wintec. It was too hard to get up and out before we were over the jump.

I think I got three rides in by myself before J could come out. Each time, before and after a ride, I’d run my hand down his back muscles to see if he had any sore spots. He didn’t react to any pressure. So, that is a good sign. It wasn’t hitting or pinching in any place a noticeable amount.

We met up during my lunch hour on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. It was 95 degrees. It was the end of November. Ah weather, you confuse the crap out of me. Since it was so hot, I was not planning on doing much with Scarlet at all. Literally just ride around enough to show her how it fit.

J showed up and took a look at the saddle just sitting on the cross tie. She was surprised at how nice it was. The price was really low so generally, you expect lower quality for a lower price. But she said it was in really good condition. The cosmetic scratch was really a non-issue. She placed it on Scarlet’s back and looked at it like that. It definitely was wide, but it wasn’t as wide as she thought it might be. We put it on with the pad and towels. She girthed him up and ran a hand underneath the tree. It was a bit looser but she thought it still would work with shims since it was working with towels.

I hopped on and we walked and trotted a bit to see how it looked while moving. She asked me how I felt. I told her that it felt fine. A little hard in the seat but nothing that was uncomfortable. It could use more forward flaps if I was jumping to the point where I needed to raise my stirrups more. I’m not so that is something I could live with.

J said, based on my budget and how it worked for me and Scarlet, it was a really good choice. She even said she kinda wanted it. (Though I’m unsure if that was lip service or if she was serious. lol) It fit me well enough and I rode fine in it. It had a large padding in the back that removed the need to put shims in the back to account for Scarlet having a slightly swayed back. Since the saddle was in good condition and fit me well, she thought I should keep it. I would need to get 1/2″ shims for the front in order to pad it enough that it fit him but the saddle didn’t move much while I was riding with the towels and the padding should work for us.

So here is my new saddle:

 

It was a lot less intense of a process for me than I thought. Part of that was me being impatient and wanting a saddle NOW! Part of that was really thinking about what I wanted to spend money on. I could have sat around looking at more expensive saddles for months. I could have found something that would have been 100% perfect for Scarlet and me. I even had a Stubben I could have purchased that probably would have been a much better fit for both of us. But that saddle was twice what my Crosby cost. I ended up deciding that I would rather spend less money and get a decent saddle than my unicorn saddle. Someday, I’ll spend a lot more money on a perfect saddle for me and Future Horse so that we can take the showing world by storm and be perfectly comfortable while doing it. For now, for what I’m doing with my horse this Crosby is a pretty great find.

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Saddle Search – Part 2

~*News Update* The SD fires are no where near where Scarlet is Stables (as of 8:30 on the 7th). They are about 40 miles north of where I live but are moving toward the coast with minimal southward progress. I don’t think I will personally be in danger but there are a lot of people who are evacuated and a lot of horses who need to be moved. Please keep everyone in your thoughts while this happens. And hope that the winds die down. ~

I have to admit, I was quite disappointed that the M. Toulouse wasn’t going to work. I had looked at all the websites everywhere (slight exaggeration) and even my larger budget wasn’t giving me much of a window to wiggle within. There was still the one 1500$ Stubben hovering at the edge of my mind but… I still couldn’t do it. I guess I’m more miserly at heart than even I realized. I want a house someday (WHY OH WHY DO CA HOUSE PRICES SUCK SO MUCH!? Who has 100k+ sitting in a bank account for a downpayment) cause I want a yard and a dog and no people stomping around above us. So saving where I can is always in my mind. And honestly, a new saddle is not a necessity. It matters to me but if push came to shove, it was something I was willing to let go.

I did ask the 1500 saddle owner if they would be willing to do a trail. I had only sat in two versions of the Portos by Stubben when doing a fit and I wasn’t sure if the Zaria was the same. And I really didn’t want to purchase a saddle unless a) it was exactly what I’ve already sat in or b) I could try it before being committed. But they said they had the saddle priced to sell and weren’t interested. Fair enough. It was worth asking.

J and I talked about various options on the internet. Mostly ones I had sent her. She had a more discerning eye from the start. Nothing was really popping up. Then J sent me a link to a fb group. It was for a Crosby Centennial for $750. The owner was willing to do a trial. The only issue was that it was a medium tree. J said that we could probably make it work with some shims depending on how “medium” it was.  With my budget, I was most likely going to have to sacrifice something in the way of saddle fit and shimming would be the easiest to make work.

So, I spoke with the saddle owner and we agreed that I’d pay her via Paypal and she’d ship it to me. If it didn’t work within 7 days, I’d pay to ship it back and she’d return my purchase money. So, I had a trial to kinda cover my butt a little if this saddle didn’t work.

It arrived and the box was huge! She had wrapped it in two fleece blankets and put a pillow on either end. Perfect packaging for shipping. It arrived in great condition and I was pleased with it. The leather was in good condition and the saddle was clean. There was one cosmetic scratch on the cantle but I wasn’t concerned about that. After all, not showing.  Appearances are less important.

J told me how to use a pair of hand towels to make temporary shims for fitting purposes and how to lay them on the saddle. The saddle fitting fee covered her coming out again to check whatever saddles I might find but if I hopped on and it was terrible like the M. Toulouse, what was the point of her coming out again?

The saddle was definitely wide on Scarlet when I plopped it on before putting anything under it but it wasn’t as wide as I had initially expected. That’s good, right? Next, I pulled out the girth. J wanted me to try girthing the saddle and then running my hand underneath the tree to make sure that it wasn’t pinching weird. I did that and there was a lot of room. Pretty much what I expected due to the saddle being wide. I then added the pad and the towels. I girthed him up again and had to keep nudging my girth up holes. The billets on this saddle were really long! Once all suited up, I swung up right next to the tack room. I had walked over to the arena with the previous saddle and had to go all the way back to change saddles so I could have a full ride. (I’m not being lazy guys, the way the barn is laid out, the walk to the jump arena is really long.)

I walked and trotted in the small arena near my tack room quickly to see if the saddle rubbed like the last one. Nope, good there. It didn’t seem to pinch or irritate Scarlet right off the bat so that was also good. I headed up to the jump arena as it’s the only arena with lights to try a full ride.

The ride went well. I could tell that the saddle needed a smidge more padding up front to level it out but I didn’t feel stuck in any position. The blocks on the front felt nice and kept my leg in place well. The seat wasn’t the most comfortable in the world in terms of softness. It was a harder seat without the cushion that the Stubbens I tried during the fitting had but I figured that was more of a luxury type thing and I probably wasn’t going to get that. I told J that it seemed to work and we set up a time for her to come out and verify.

Next up: Does it fit?

Saddle Search

Now that I had a proper fit guide for a saddle, the search was on. While we had been trying saddles, the fitter, J (I’d put her full name in the blog but I didn’t ask. If anyone wants to contact her for a fit, I’ll happily give you her information. She’s fantastic) had gone through all of the used saddles within Stubben’s database to see if there was anything that would work. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to find anything. That meant it was time to take the search to the internet.

J said she would continue to look as well and if I found something I thought might be a possibility, to send the link to her so that she could tell me if it would work or not. Armed with the specifics from the saddle fitting, I started my search. There are a lot of saddles online. There are not a lot of 18″ seats online. There are even fewer that are narrow and less of those that fit into my price range. $1500 was as much as I could go and even then I felt iffy about it. That is a lot of money for when I’m not doing anything specific with Scarlet. I can justify a jump saddle because that is what I do for fun but nothing expensive because I’m not showing or training to show.

J found a Stubben Zaria online that fit the specifications but was exactly $1500. Since she found that around day one or two of searching, I didn’t want to jump on it. There could be other options within my price range but lower that would show up someday in the search. There are a lot of old saddles being sold online. A surprising amount of old saddles. Unfortunately, those were what was most in my price range. I looked through ebay and three different fb tack groups. There were a couple but either they were too expensive or too wide.

J spoke to one of the used tack stores here in town and they had an M. Toulouse with an 18″ seat for $1250. It had an adjustable gullet so I could make it as narrow as necessary to fit Scarlet. Since it was in town, I was able to do a trail without paying a fee for it or needing to purchase it entirely before trying it. I picked it up during my lunch hour and it was gorgeous. The tack store owner showed me how to adjust the gullet. It was really simple and very sturdy hardware. I also popped over to Mary’s to get some leather stirrups. I knew matching a saddle I was only trying out was silly but I needed leather ones anyway for this trial and future ones. Having a Wintec AP saddle meant that my stirrup leathers were synthetic and that is a no-go for actual leather saddles.

I was really excited to try it out and headed out to the barn. I tried it on without the saddle pad first and adjusted the saddle down a lot to make it nice and narrow. I had no idea if I got it right or not but I think it was okay. I had asked for a lot of pointers on how to test fit myself during the fitting so I felt confident enough to say I got it okay.

Unfortunately, as soon as I hopped on it felt off. The saddle fit funky underneath my butt. I thought it might just be me not being used to having a new saddle and walked for a while in it. It still felt odd but I decided to trot. A few steps in and it was like a stop sign came out of nowhere and hit me in the face. It was rubbing at the junction of my thigh and butt. I checked my breeches to make sure they hadn’t bunched up, checked my stirrups to make sure they weren’t interfering and no good. It just fit me wrong.

To say I was sad would have been an understatement. The saddle was gorgeous and the adjustable gullet would have made it super easy to transfer to Future Horse whenever they came around. So I returned it to the tack store and resigned myself to searching more.

Next time on The Horse Dream: Saddle Search – Part 2

I’m Baaaack!

I hope all of you read that in a sing-song voice because that is totally what I did when I typed that.

So, November. Yeah, that was quite a month. As I said, I was participating in NaNoWriMo. I did pretty well keeping up with the word count par for the first few days. Then I had a few days where I fell behind. No big deal, I’ll make it up. Except I was planning on visiting my mom for Thanksgiving and needed to be ahead because I wasn’t likely to get to write while there. That never happened and I fell even more behind. But I was determined to finish. I ended up with 10,000 words left to write on the last three days of the month and got it done with a few hours to spare on the 30th. Surprisingly, 10 minutes writing and then 10 minutes of audiobook or a video then back again was the most effective way for me to get words done. Good to know. But finishing the 50k words took up all my writing brain and blogging fell by the wayside. Now that that is over, I’ll be getting back to blogging at a normal rate.

I’m going to break the catch up posts into sections since a lot has happened. Today’s will be about riding after the time change.

Scarlet has, for the entirety that I’ve owned him, dealt with riding in the dark with arena lights. Our first trainer had lights so she could continue to give lessons no matter what time of year. Most of her lessons were after 4:30 in the afternoon till about 7pm so yeah she needed lights. All of our arenas have had a light source of some kind. So while I knew Scarlet would get a bit tense, lights weren’t something I was worried about.

Our first ride mostly consisted of him paying more attention than I’d like to the outside of the arena but we didn’t have anything more than a generalized increase in tension. The second night right wasn’t as great. For some reason, everyone and their mother was out at the barn. Horses were going every which way outside the arena. There was one other horse inside the arena and he was feeling the energy as well. Then coyotes and dogs started howling at each other and there were a few sirens and someone’s horse went nuts in the round pen and Scarlet lost his marbles. I had to give him a serious whap on the butt and pulled him around my leg. I try not to do that but if he just loses his brain, I have to get him focused on something other than what he freaked about otherwise we bolt. We were able to get a ride in but I never felt the tension leave him and getting him to move forward was terrible.

All the other rides underneath the lights have been just fine. He is a bit tense but we work the same no matter what. He also is fine with jumping in the lights. In fact, he loves it. But my god is he getting rushy with jumps lately. I haven’t been jumping him recently with the twopointober stuff going on as my primary focus. So when I did allow him to jump twice in November, we had a serious talk about maintaining pace and listening to me. Whoa means slow down and hoa means stop.

To work on that, we trotted some poles and halted right after them. Then trotted a crossrail and halted after. Then trotted and halted before it. Then repeat at the canter. It still was hard for him to listen when we did a line with another jump in front of him but it was better at the end. I do need to make a point to jump more and work on responsiveness while jumping. I also need to get off and make the jump something serious so that he actually has to put effort into jumping and not just rushing over it.

I can’t remember much more about my rides. I didn’t get out as often as I had been as I got sick sometime in this and it kicked me hard. But I did ride a few times each week.

Next catch up post: saddle search!

Saddle Fitting

Friday evening I had my saddle fitting appointment. I very much enjoyed it. The girl I worked with was a rep for Stubben but she is quite happy to fit any brand’s saddles if you bring one. She brought a few saddles and hauled them out.

The first thing she did was look to see if Scarlet was back sore anywhere. He wasn’t (whew!) and she looked at the shape of his back. Because he is getting older, he is starting to sway a bit.

She put a 17.5 seat with a 30cm tree on him first and I rode around a bit. It knocked mre forward since the tree was too big. We switched to a 29cm. Still a bit too big. Down to a 28. That fit him better but the 17.5 seat was too small for me. I had to work a lot trying to hold myself in the saddle properly. We tried an 18 seat with 28cm tree and that was freaking awesome. We did hop back and forth between the previous saddle with the slightly smaller seat because it had removable blocks. She wanted me to feel the difference between the small and the large blocks.

Scarlet was a good boy for most of this but he got annoyed as we kept switching the saddle without doing much. He was like “Mom, either ride or get off me and feed me!” He started shaking his head and tensing up while riding. Once we settled on riding in the 18 seat, I let him move out and canter. He was still grumpy so I let him gallop as he loves that and it usually lets out some tension. He took off and gave a huge buck. Just one. Just enough to let me know that he was pissed off. I stuffed him with treats throughout but he was done and the light was gone so we wrapped up.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything in their inventory that was the correct size and within my price range. I did like their saddles and I totally understand why they are so expensive. They feel really nice and are very light.

So, my numbers are: 18″ seat, forward or very forward flaps, 28cm tree (narrow to normal). My price range is between $1000-$1500. Unfortunately, that’s not coming up often when searching. There are one or two that are at the top of my range or just beyond it. Since my current saddle works, I’m not in any hurry to get a new saddle. I’d like to find something lower in my range if possible. So, if anyone knows of one being sold or any particularly great sites to search for used saddles please comment to let me know.

Also, Scarlet’s leg is healed! Yay!

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Nano word count as of this post: 8018

Beginning of November

My last two-point time was from Oct. 30 with 8 minutes. It was so difficult to hold it that long and I’m pretty sure only will power kept me there. I had wanted to get a longer time on Halloween but about 4 minutes in, my left leg cramped something fierce so I had to bow out and hope that 8 minutes was good enough.

AND IT WAS!!!!!!

I won for most improved. I am so happy. I did not enter the month thinking that I had any chance of getting a prize. I had trouble getting my 22 second baseline. I figured that I’d use this month as motivation to improve. When my time jumped to around 4 minutes at the end of the second week, I started to think that maybe I could do this. And so I pushed myself. And improved so much. I want to give a heartfelt thank you to Emma and Allison for hosting this year’s competition. I really needed the pseudo outside kick in the pants to push myself. I now have proof I can do more than I thought and I hope to carry that motivation into other months of doing more, starting with No Stirrup November.

I haven’t gone out to ride yet this month. I’m heading out Friday but Wednesday and Thursday are busy with other things. I have been writing for Nano and my word count as of this blog is 2322. There is still time to join and have fun writing a novel for this month! It also doesn’t have to be a novel and there is no punishment if you don’t finish. I’ve known people who have written poetry, short stories, music and coded during this month so it’s really just a month for creative pushes in all fields.

Super awesome news: I’ve got a saddle fitting on Friday! A rep from Stubben will be coming out and helping figure out what saddle shape/size works for both of us. I’m so excited! I’m going to take all the notes and pictures.

Two-point improvement

Thursday it finally cooled down enough that riding wouldn’t be absolutely insane to do. So I went out. And I realized I pulled a 7 year old horse out of Scarlet’s stall. I hadn’t ridden in 5 days so I knew he would be a bit excited but come on. I have a senior horse! I’m not expecting this level of excitement.

It was fun though. He was really up and forward. I’ve been working on applying forward forward forward and not using my hands to pull him back to me. That plus his energy from not getting out for five days made a really energetic ride.

I didn’t have a problem with his speed until I wanted to try to time my two-point. Getting up into position too my weight off his back and put me slightly more forward. This signaled that it was time for him to just run at the trot. It ended up being a lot of me circling him and giving him corrections while trying to maintain my two-point. I did manage to get 6:12 for my time but that was definitely harder than I thought it would be. The pace of his trot also threw off my balance some. I wanted to try to stay up for more but my hamstrings were so tight and complaining that I had to just stop and stretch my legs.

Friday, I had run earlier in the day and was very tired when I came out to ride. Scarlet was still energetic for the ride and I decided not to really try for an overall better time for two-point when I couldn’t maintain for more than a minute. My legs were tired and wanted a day off. So I just did short bursts of a minute-ish of two-point while trotting over some poles and cross rails. It was overall probably around 10 minutes of two-point but it wasn’t as difficult on my body as holding it for that time. Still good practice though.

Saturday, I had planned on getting out in the morning but my husband and I went to go see Kingsman 2 around noon so I changed to the evening in order to fit that in better. (Great movie, definitely recommend) Scarlet wasn’t as energetic with everything but another person had her two Arabs exercising in the round pens by the arena. As Arabs do, they were running around and snorting, tails up. Scarlet was a little looky due to that (Obviously they see something you don’t mom. I’m just keeping an eye out for the monsters.) But he was very responsive overall. After most of my warm up, I stopped to chat with her and we talked about Arabs and their personalities for a bit. Scarlet got lots of praise for his looks and his movement. (He is gorgeous but I’m obviously biased so I love when other people compliment him as well.)

He and one of her Arabs got to say hi to each other and Scarlet was not happy that I insisted he continues working when the other horse was walking away. We were cantering though so he got over that quite quickly.

Completely warmed up, I again tried to get more time for my two-point final time. It’s so hard to hold it for so long. Scarlet actually trotted at a more sane pace for the most part. I had a couple of false starts but ultimately held for 7:30. Lots of circles, a few change of directions and so many rounds of the arena. It’s definitely getting a little boring. Unfortunately, I’m doing all I can to just maintain the two-point after around 3:30. After 4 minutes, everything is just pain and breathing while focusing on staying up. This challenge is really helping me improve my time but I need to keep it up after the month is over. I need to be able to actually ride while in the two-point as well someday. I’m going to continue trying to improve over the next couple of days so I have the best possible time for the final day of 2pointober.

Coming up, November. I have a lot of things going on in November. Horse wise, I’m going to be trying to do no stirrup November. But my main project is something else. I will be participating in NaNoWriMo. The goal of the challenge is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I’ve been participating for 7 years now and I’ve won the challenge two years running now. Recently, I just finished my novel that I started last year’s nano. I’m very excited to see how my writing changes for this nano. My primary focus writing wise will be getting 1667 words or more written a day on my novel. I don’t know how many posts will get up in November for this blog. I will try to update, even if it is just a little. If anyone wants to join me on the quest for 50k words, you can add me as a buddy. Its free to join and a lot of fun, even if you don’t win. My username is Tymesplit.

HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT

I didn’t get out this weekend due to the parents being here. Yesterday was the only time I saw Scarlet and that was for as quick as possible.

I went out around 5ish and it was still 104ish at the barn. Possibly hotter. Surprise of all was Scarlet had kept his freaking fly mask on. He has a new buddy that is ripping off all his flymasks, again. This time, the horse just tore the cloth off the end so it’s probably not as comfortable for Scarlet now. I may have to take a look at the Roma ones again.

I pulled Scarlet out and gave him a super quick spray down. Even it being as hot as it is, Scarlet still didn’t appreciate the bath. He will never like water.

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After, I let him eat a tiny bit of grain while I unwrapped and rewrapped his leg. It looks good still. Not too much improvement from my picture on Friday but it still looks good.

I really hope the weather stays cool after this Thursday. Its almost the end of October and I’d like my cooler weather to come, please!

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10/24 leg update

 

 

Improving and more weird weather

I was able to ride a few times this week since the weather dropped for a bit mid heat wave. In fact, it got downright chilly in the evening. Of course, that meant Scarlet was very up during our rides. He wasn’t bad though so I just rode the wiggles out of him. We never really seemed to lose energy during the ride. It was very exciting and quick the whole time. I felt like he was more connected to me hand since I was just urging him forward the whole ride. I’ve tried to be very conscious lately of pushing him forward into my hand and not pulling back on him. It’s very difficult to do. I have to focus on that with every cue or I’ll fall back into pulling.

I did get some practice with the two point in and was able to hold for 5 minutes. I probably could have held longer but it is so hard. My lower back really needs to strengthen up to match my other muscles.

More Two-Point

2pointober is more than halfway through at this point. I’ve been working hard at it and I’ve improved a lot. It’s really nice to have a goal to work towards where I’m accountable to someone besides myself. I mean, I don’t have to keep practicing. Nothing happens if I don’t do well or don’t continue to give improving updates. But there is someone there who is watching what I do. And that definitely helps motivate me.

Monday I didn’t ride due to heat but I did go out and change Scarlet’s bandage. He was very good about standing still while I changed it in his stall. Except for his head. He kept sniffing the top of my head and breathing in my ear. My ears are quite ticklish so it was really hard to focus while he was doing that. Silly horse. I’ll post wound progress pics at the bottom. The one on the left is from Oct 9th and the right is Oct 13th. Both before I cleaned the gunk off and wrapped it up again.

Tuesday it was slightly cooler so I did get out to ride. I didn’t plan on hardly doing anything since I wasn’t sure how fast it was going to cool. We w/t/c around for warm up and threw in some circles there. I was trying to focus on pushing him forward into my hands at the trot to get him to lift his back and connect. I have noticed that I’m pulling back more when asking for connection and that just really isn’t going to cut it. The trot seemed to feel better and more loose quicker but I need to do this more times before really seeing if I’m making a difference. It could have been he felt good that day.

The canter definitely bounced along. I felt like we got a lot more air but it didn’t feel up and down even though he was bunched up underneath me. It was definitely harder to sit than normal. A good sign I think.

I did my two-point and had a few false starts. Those are so annoying. Especially when you get to 80 seconds and then touch the saddle. However, I  managed to hold it till 4:09 which I am so happy about. My lower back hurt soooo badly afterward though. It took our full cooldown walk with my feet out of the stirrups for my back to loosen up. I really need to figure out how to strengthen that up.

The clip seems to have helped. I thought we sweated less but our ride was a bit later in the day than normal. I’ll just have to see how the clip holds up as the heat continues. (Seriously wtf SoCal? WTF?!)

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less sweat