Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Almost a New Year!

Everyone has such inspiring goals. I love reading about them. It gives me ideas and makes me want to push myself. 

My first goal is to live through an upcoming clinic with Marina Parris Woodhead in January. It is only a few weeks away. 

Another big goal is to take him a few horse trials with a starter level. I don't care how we do. I just want to take him out to do something fun. I know a few people who will be going so we can make a party of it. There are several events in Washington that offer from starter level to prelim or even advanced so it should make a fun weekend. 

My biggest goal is to get my back under control. I fell of bre years ago jumping and I haven't been the same since. My medical provider didn't manage the injury at the time. Now that I am riding again and in a more physical job it's become apparent the problem is getting worse. I had my first physical therapy appt a few weeks ago and have been a good girl (mostly) since then. 

Can't wait to see what everyone does this year! 
Dickies goal for 2014 is to eat more mash. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Stamp Of Approval (An Small Business Rave)

The saddle fitter came out today and agreed that it fits just right. There is room to grow but it's not too tight. I am so relieved. Now I don't have an excuse for riding like crud or not riding at all. 

I ended up with the Cardanel Olympic. It is great for both of us. The only "problem" is he feels way springier and his back moves more so he is harder to ride. The other issue with a saddle that actually fits, without locking you in, is how apparent riding flaws become. When you have a saddle that puts you in a funky position you are so focused on dealing with that you don't notice the problems you have all on your own. Also, if the saddle fits poorly enough the shooting pains from hip to leg and the ensuing fetal position pretty much covers up root problems. Your legs can't swing like gummy worms when you have them on lockdown to minimize muscle spasms. I have ridden two days in a row in the new saddle and I was like a jellyfish up there. Dickie is being a saint but still has the lovely baby penchant for quick tempo changes and often wouldn't pass a field sobriety test. I am happy to say though that I am sore in all the right places. My abs feel like I had a gut punch, my inner thighs are on fire, and my back is oh so tired. All the places you should be sore if you are making an effort to ride correctly.  It's go time now Dickie-Trish team. We have to get our shiz together!!

Now for a local business plug. I purchased the saddle on consignment from a  young horse woman at Diamond in the Rough Saddlery. She grew up in the area competing in Pony Club and recently started her own tack business. She has a small shop at her parents barn. I remember the days when the only saddle fitter in the area was so far away and you had to ship the saddle off hoping you could describe what you needed. The saddle fitter at that time was a true artist named Hans Biglajzer (click on the link for more info on him). We have a few fitters in the area but they are also reps for particular brands. The one person I email asking about her fees wanted tracings so we could talk about a new saddle right off. I was thrilled for the referral to Diamond in the Rough. Lo and behold this young woman has taken the time to learn from Hans and is carrying on the tradition. She will reflock a saddle, replace billets, repair your seat, add knee rolls, remove knee blocks, convert air panels to flocking, you name it she can do it. I started talking to her when I was considering the Black Country from England. I didn't pay her a dime for her advice but she freely gave it. She even encourages me to buy the saddle even though she had no monetary stake in it. I am sorry that saddle didn't fit but thrilled I was able to give her business. Over and above all her technical knowledge her passion for horses shines through. It is glaringly obvious how much she wants both horse and rider to be comfortable.  She has been a working student for well respected trainers in the area and has started giving lessons at her family's stable. 

It is refreshing to see young horse people with a passion for everything horse. All too often the young people who want the quick fix or are in it for the ribbons overshadow people like her. I was excited to give my business to the next generation. The horse business is cruel and no one gets rich. We need these young people to bring their passion to teaching and the art of tack repair. So if you are in the area please check her out!! Chances are your beloved saddle could use new flocking. I am sure you know someone you would love custom ribbon trimmed polo wraps. And we could ALL use a new bling saddle pad. A little bling helps blind spectators to your riding faults. She ships so head to her website and get yourself something pretty. 

She keeps her stock a little more updated on her Facbook Page

Clinics AHHHHH!!!

I am not sure if I mentioned it here but I recently had the chance to watch an Anne Gribbons clinic at Quailhurst Stables near Dickie barn. It was amazing. If you ever have the chance to see her run there. I missed part of the first ride but managed to catch the rest of the rides for one day. There were mostly upper level riders with one 2nd level rider on a schoolmaster. I loved how one thing just flowed into the next. The person would say "I want to work on piaffe" and they were start on something that appeared unrelated and it just flowed. They suddenly they were doing piaffe without stress or fanfare. One rider wanted to work on more expression in the front. Anne said that she saw Totilas as a youngster and he didn't have that exaggerated front end movement. She said the rider's horse was going correctly from behind so getting more in the front would be easy. Then she gave some very very simple instructions for how to use her seat and BOOM that horse was transformed. Another horse came in and I was impressed by how the rider warm her up relaxed and stretching forward. She almost looked hunterish in the warm up. While it was nice to see a horse warmed up so relaxed I didn't see any WOW in the horse. By the end of the ride you wouldn't recognize that horse. They channelled all of that elastic relaxation into a dynamite horse. Anne told her this was a Grand Prix horse.

Here are some photos from the clinic: Anne Gribbons

The week after watching Anne Gribbons Marina Parris-Woodhead came to a local stable called Lake Oswego Hunt Club. She is a Grand Prix rider who spends some of her time here in Oregon. The owner of my barn helped coordinate getting her to the area and now she makes regular trips. Here is a article in the local paper about Marina Parris-Woodhead

The riders at this clinic were more at my level. There were a few upper level riders, some good riders on young horses, and other mid level riders. Marina also had a very simple approach to problems. She showed how simple exercises like voltes can be used to strengthen anything from canter lengthenings, to half pass, to helping a hot horse relax at the walk. I was shocked that we had such a wonderful clinician and there were almost zero auditors. There wasn't even an audit fee!!  I learned so much at her clinic that I am planning on riding with her in January. I love riding in clinics. I am not someone who likes a weekly lesson. I like to have time to process information and work on things independently. I also like to ride with different people so I can get new perspectives. There were several really young horses in the clinic so I feel like it will be a great setting for our first under saddle trip away from home. If he ends up being a handful baby brain it will be great to have someone give me guidance on how to work through that. Even better it will be at a place were we plan on showing.

I am nervous but really excited. It is crazy to think a year ago he wasn't even under saddle!!!

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Now that we have moved from just getting the baby forward and being happy he tolerates a rider I have realized I need a different saddle. My cheap cheap saddle isn't bad. It's a thoroughgood. Despite being synthetic it is wool flocked and made in england. They are great little saddles. However I have to admit I do love leather. And while it doesn't hurt my bum hip it puts me in a chair seat. I also don't feel like I can't really fine tune my commands. This was really brough home to me when I got on my eventer friends horse. It was her Black Country Quantum. I felt like I was bareback. The twist was narrow, my legs were in the perfect postition, it was like the saddle wasn't even there. So the search began......

I decided to start with a dressage saddle. I will eventually need a jump saddle but for now our work is on the flat. I started out looking for a Black Country. I loved my friends and they seemed to fit him well. On the wide side but he is filling out like crazy so wide is better than a perfect width. They are way spendier than I could afford so I went to the UK ebay and a UK site called preloved. I found a lovely saddle over there and with shipping it was $600. Used they go for twice that in the US.

The workmanship on BCS saddles is amazing. They are sturdy and the leather is to die for. I am not a fan of the switch to flimsy calfskin leather saddles. They might be soft when you get them but your expesive saddle will soon have holes. I love a good english made saddle. They seem to know how to make a saddle with sturdy leather that is still soft and supple. I put the saddle on Dickie and it was perfect. It had enough room for him to grow but sat very balanced. Sadly the knee block hit me wrong and the twist was too wide. I couldn't seem to get my leg stable and my hip was a mess after riding in it I tried a few times but could make it work. It broke my heart to sell this lovely saddle. 

I spent the next few weeks sitting in every dressage saddle in town. I sat in $4,000 saddles down to the low price cardboard saddles. I sat in at least 20 saddles. Only a handful of the saddle actually felt good on my hip. I brough home a neidersuss because I used to own one and love it. It was a no go. Too tigh on Dickie and the thigh block killed me. I quickly came to the realization that saddles these days have giant knee blocks in the wrong place for the average person. When did that happen? 

I decided to wait until my BCS sold because it would increase my budget. I found a few saddle in my price range I wanted to try. I also discoved the kent and masters saddles. They are a decent price new and come with lots of bells and whistles. They are adjustable, narrow twist, and have a removable knee block. Just when I was about to give up and wait until I could afford a new Kent and Masters, I found a JRD accord in my price range at my saddle fitters shop. I sat in a few JRD accords and loved the twist. They were too small for me though and out of my price range. This saddle was in my range and the right size. I made the treck to her little shop and was dissapointed to find it had a giant thigh block. JRDs are custom saddles so they vary drastically. She encouraged me to sit another saddle. It was a Cardanel. I would have discounted it simply because of the super deep seat but happened to read a review online the night before. The person said it didn't feel like most deep seat saddles so not to discount this brand even if you don't like deep seats. I loved it right away. It was the best I have sat it. I currently have it on trail. So far so good but I've only had one ride with teh holiday madness. I'm heading out to ride in it now......

Trainers and Things

I have broken down and my badass eventer friend is riding Dickie one day a week. I really really want to train him myself and think I can do it. It was hard to break down and ask for help because I don't want to admit defeat. The more I thought about it the more I really don't feel like I am admitting defeat. I don't feel stuck with our training, I don't feel like I can't do it on my own. My schedule is just too crazy to do it. I had her ride him a few times when I was super busy with pre holiday madness. When I had her ride him in the short term I was amazing at how relieved I felt. Owning a horse is a responsibility. Owning a young horse is a HUGE responsibility. They need you are there alllll the time. You can't just take a day off because you are tired. He doesn't understand. He is a big horse who can get downright pushy when he isn't being handled. It isn't the horses fault that you need to go Christmas shopping, or haven't seen your friend in forever. If you can't give a young horse the time they need then get an older trained horse. I didn't want to go that route. I wanted the challenge of starting a horse myself. When I made that decision I knew there were going to be some big sacrifices in my personal life.

That said, I am a nurse. I work 12 hour shifts three days a week. Sometimes I work 16 hour shifts. Riding on a work day is out of the question. I leave the house before six and get home after 8pm. My body is usually toast before my day is even over so riding would be stupid on a work day. That means I need to get out there on all my days off. Some weeks that is really hard when you add in spending tim with my better half or with my family. Since Cricket came on board I can have a day off. He adores her and I am always happy with how he rides after she has been on. So far we have been on the same page with what to work on. She even took note of my hip injury and is working on an issue that is hard with my hip. I have her ride on work days and she is super sweet. She sends me really long texts about how he did, what she worked on, and how cute he is. It makes those long rough days much easier. I look forward to my update texts.

I am glad I decided to have her offically help. I earn more working four hours than I pay her for a month. It helps my stubborn nature to know I am perfectly capable of training this horse myself. I would be an idiot though to pass up the chance to have a trainer ride my horse for half the price of most trainers. I probably wont have her ride him forever but for ride now it is pretty freakin awesome.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Breedle Deedle goes for a ride

We had a few chilly days this month. It felt like Alaska and reminded me of all the fun rides Bre and I had in the snow. I decided to go for a ride with my friend on a chilly 26 degree day. We went bareback to keep our tushies warm. Bre seemed happy to get out and about and took good care of me.

The view between these red ears is the best view in the world. 

This is what we usually see from the same point in our ride. 

She heard me put a hand in my pocket. She thinks that's her cue for a treat stop . 

Bre's lease lady riding Romeo. 

The red princess and I keeping warm in December. 


Bit Bits Bits. So many sizes and shapes and colors. When we last met Dickie graduated from the side pull to a full cheek KK aurigan snaffle. He was going just fine and dandy for a baby horse but I wasn't 100% happy with it as time went on. He was getting to the point where he should be taking the bit and putting a little weight in my hands. My trainer friend started riding him once a week and was feeling the same thing. Luckily she has an arsenal of bits. Normal bits, weird bit, small bits, tall bits. You name it she has it. I took home a loose ring mullen, one hing sweet iron loose ring, three piece D ring, and three piece loose ring. Since I had tried similar versions of every thing else I went with the mullen mouth. I've never ridden in a mullen or even seen another person ride in one. Now I am wondering why not!!

It was magic from the second I put the bridle on. Usually he chomps away at his bits but with this one he acted like nothing was there. The ride was night and day!! I don't want to imply that he hasn't been a good boy. He has been an amazing green pony. But add this bit into the mix and we progressed exponentially in one ride. He is now stretching down for most of the ride. I feel like we are having a conversation through my reins. He is much less tense and is more willing to move out. It surreal to get on him now. His attention span is still pretty short but he is ready to work the second my foot hits the stirrup.

I have Cricket's bit on loan and ordered an egg butt for Dickie. Hers is a loose ring but I like to go with less cheek movement for the greenies. Can't wait until it gets here. f you have a horse who is fussy with the bit, doesn't want to take contact, or suck behind the contact give a mullen mouth a try. They are inexpensive, dressage legal, and mild. It can't hurt to give one a whirl.