Sunday, January 21, 2018

Weekend Rides

I had lots of plans this weekend to ride, but only managed to get on Bailey on Friday afternoon, and dragged my over-tired carcass off the couch to catch and ride Arya earlier today. I say "catch and ride Arya" because both of those things have been a challenge lately. It started (to get worse, at least) on Monday, when it took me half an hour or so to catch an avoidant Arya who didn't care how many treats I was giving to her sisters, she wanted nothing to do with me.

She took a really funny nap on Friday in the sun; she had dreams and her legs twitched!

Bailey's ride on Friday was pleasant and sunny; we did flatwork and a bit of lateral work in the dressage saddle, and hacked around the edge of the pasture to cool out. She was good, if playful under saddle, and I continue to marvel in how rideable she is compared to the baby horse I used to know. She gives me hope for Arya, she really does. Bails got so into jamming in the canter that she ended up throwing a real buck (which is not normally her thing) and she was so surprised she stopped herself afterwards, ha!

Floofy but oh so pleasant!

Bailey went through a hard-to-catch period early in her riding career, as well, but it seemed to pass pretty quickly and I didn't have to deal with it a ton, as she was boarded and I often arrived after horses were turned in for the night. Arya, however, has gone from super friendly when she arrived this summer to, as of late, running passive aggressive circles around me trying to get all of the horses to shun me, too. She knows I have treats. And she wants them. But she doesn't want to get anywhere near me.

So yesterday while waiting for some delightful craigslist people to come take away the round bales I've been trying to get rid of for free for over a week now, I waded out into the paddock with treats and candy canes with the goal of just getting my hands on the queen of side eye. It took some time, but she did wear down, and seemed to enjoy being "caught" when rewarded with lots of scritches under her very itchy hood. Once I ran out of treats, though, she was clearly much less willing to let me anywhere near her face. Today I went out to ride not sure I would end up putting my ass in the tack. However, it took only a couple of treats to the other horses and the jealous beast let me walk up and stuff her face with food and catch her. Leading her in was less easy - she would prefer if I dragged her, because being ridden is DEATH, clearly, but it wasn't a bad first catch - I am hoping I didn't set her back by actually doing stuff with her.

Look guys I finally caught my horse (and the donkey, who has discovered that candy canes are delicious)!

The stuff we did was the normal lunging and ride. On the line, she had a lot of energy and wanted to cantercantercanter, but was slipping and pulling a bit, so I actually ground worked her until she was licking and chewing vs just letting her get stretched out and get her bucks out. I got on and within two minutes, she started to get weird and started throwing herself around like she was going to go up, like the longer I was on the more agitated she got. I got after her until she stood and let me get off, and then slid her saddle back and got back on. I don't remember now if she was wearing the jump saddle when she reared the last (really scary time) but I did actually plop it on her and it fits her quite well. I have had horses (Foxie) take exception to the forward flaps on their shoulders, but I was intrigued to note that she was much less shirty when I got back on her after moving her saddle back and making sure I girthed it up.

We were able to do some pretty standard baby horse walk/trot/canter to the left, and I was quite happy with her. To the right, though, something is up, and I'm not sure what it is. She will walk forward into the contact and swing through her back, and while it takes some work, I can get her bending and doing normal horse things. The trot and canter, though, are an utter mess. The trot doesn't stick around more than 10 steps, and quickly escalates into the tiny "I can't go forward" canter in place. And she won't go forward in the canter when asked - she gets shirty, and starts going sideways, getting light in front and ends up going left. We ended up doing several steps of trot and then halting or walking, and things got more civil, but I never did get a full circle of trot going right. She does have some hesitance going forward to the left, but goes forward fine, especially if I let her have a bit of a canter and then go back to the trot.

Reading others' blogs (hai, Emma!) has me looking at my girth as well as at my saddle. The jump saddle sits on Arya really nicely, where the dressage saddle is much more fitted to Bailey and doesn't fit Arya nearly as well. I feel like the shoulder relief girth is the right choice, seeing as she seems very sensitive about her shoulder blades, but I may see if I can find a cheap fleece girth to try, to see if something softer and stretchier would work better for her; I have a collection of synthetic girth to try in the mean time, but have a feeling those won't go over any better than the leather.

Putting the above pictures together is actually surprising to me; I figured Bailey must be much curvier than Arya, but I think the reason the dressage saddle works on B is that she's slim through her withers and gets wide below the shoulder blade, where Arya doesn't have nearly the length or height of withers Bailey has, but gets wide pretty much immediately.  The dressage saddle is the narrower of the two saddles, so it may be that I just need to find something new in that department, while the jump saddle continues to work, albeit being offensive due to the flaps. This brings back the age old frustration that I don't know what size tree my jump saddle is; it has a serial, but no sizing stamps, so I don't know if it's a 31 that has stretched with use (or is just bigger than the 31 of my older dressage saddle), a 31.5 or a 32. Bah humbug. And also who knows how she's going to look once she is working more consistently.

I'm also toying with the idea that she needs chiropractic work; the rescue mentioned it when I took Arya, but I haven't had any issues that screamed the need for bones to be popped until now. The one-sidedness of our riding issues, however, have got the wheels turning in my head. We are naught but a bundle of issues at my house; I have been really struggling with fatigue (combined with an inability to stay asleep through the night) for what seems like no reason; Arya has her issues, and Bizzy has a nice cut that has caused her whole leg to swell up in sympathy. Luckily she is a great patient and seems to be totally unaffected by her fat leg, so it's less stressful than it could be, at least?

We were due for more snow, but that has withered and I'll be interested to see if we get anything; either way, I am home alone for a good chunk of next week, so I probably won't have time to ride along with the usual animal care, so things will be quiet here this week - unless I start waxing about saddles again, and I'll do my best to not... I'm even annoying myself at this point!


  1. Do you have any reputable fitters nearby? I might start with just having someone come out and try saddles on Arya to give you an idea of what is going on. Plus, chiro work never hurts to pinpoint issues and give you an idea of what she might need in terms of a saddle to help fit her.

    1. Do fitters in your area generally come with saddles to try on? Are they new or used? The only fitter I know travels with demos is the local County rep, and unfortunately I’m way too poor for a County. The fitter I like the most doesn’t have demos, but I guess it’s worth double checking - she’s always adjusted saddles I already own, and the friend who bought new through her didn’t get to sit in her chosen saddle before she purchased.