Saturday, May 30, 2015

Saddle Talk

Last year I bought Dickie a used Black Country ricochet. I love it so much. My leg feels stable and my hips were happy even on my worst days. Everyone who rides in it wants one. The only issue is the flap could be more forward. My hips have kept me from jumping so it hasn't been a problem but I had it in the back of my mind I might want to sell it for a larger one down the road. 

This is the color of model of my current saddle: 

Now I have two horses who both need saddles. They will often be ridden at the same time so it's not feasible to use the same saddle on both. Dickies saddle actually fits Pippin better so I decided to bite the bullet and get the saddle I want now. 

I went with another Black Country ricochet. First I sent the tracings to Trumbull Mountain saddlery. The ricochet works better for the tall withered pointy roof backed horses. I picked the color and leather combo above. I love the look and durability of buffalo leather on the flaps. The seat/knees have what's called reverse doe which is nice and grippy. Dickie's tack is all dark brown so now it won't clash. I didn't love that my saddle is lighter than the rest of my tack. 

I decided to try serge covered panels because they are lighter and cooler than leather panels. My saddle fitter said its also easier to change stuffing with it. I was worried about durability but people give excellent reviews. I've seen photos of older serge panels and they look great. 

She looked at photos of me in the saddle and thought my seat sized looked perfect. They were able to do a more forward flap on the saddle so I can get my stirrups up. Then I added in the totally frivolous request of silver welt. That's the little light colored piping you can see in this photo. 

Black Country and Trumbull are amazing to work with. Asking for customizations aren't extra. You could even go entirely custom by having the tree made to template. If you like a Ricochet seat but the quantum tree fits your horse better Black Country will mix and match.  The only extra fees were for the buffalo hide flaps. I love that I can get an essentially custom saddle for the same price as buying off the rack. Can't wait for it to arrive. I've never owned or even ridden in a new saddle!!

I ordered it over a week ago. The wait is anywhere between two week and six weeks. I hope I'm able to ride enough to enjoy it by the time it arrives. 

Pippin Torture Continues

Pippin continues to be the cutest little bugger around. He's still jumpy when something comes up behind him, you toss a saddle pad on his back, or a rope over his neck. However, deep down I think he's a pretty unflappable guy. He's not worried about normal scary things like horse eating plastic bags. And if you do something scary he never panics. He just takes a step back and wants to look you in the eye. 

The week before last we lost a little ground so no riding happened. My friend Frankie and I were busy so Pippin got loves but we didn't have time for anything serious. Last week I added back in saddling and torturing him by wearing weird stuff. He remembers quickly and seems to thrive off the attention. One of my other good friends comes on Sunday's and played with him. She can do all the stuff my hip won't allow like trotting in hand. She took this great photo of the boys practicing tying. It's a big deal for Pippin because he gets worried about stuff happening behind him when he can't swing around and give it the direct stink eye. It's a big deal for Dickie because he thinks standing in place for too long will in fact kill a horse. I need him to be able to stand all day at the trailer without causing a scene. 

We've been working at the mounting block quite a bit. This accomplishes a few things. It gets him used to me being above him. From the mounting block I can get him used to me smacking him on both sides, touching him on the flank with my leg, swinging the rope over his back and all that fun stuff. It also creates a horse who will stand stock still at a mounting block to matter what. Human lines you up with with tall thing, horse stands there and doesn't move until human says so. Dickie learned this when he was two long before he couldn't handle standing still at the cross ties. 

Pippin also had the lovely experience of being hosed off. My friend took care of that fun milestone for me. It's hard enough for me to get in the wash rack with my bad hip let alone manuever a worried horse. I can't wait to get back out and play with his cuteness. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

I Didn't Sign Up for This

Sorry for the double post. The other one should have posted yesterday 


Pippin was saved from the slaughter pen two years ago. Since then he's lived a life if leisure. Other than a short trip to the trainer he's spent the last two years living like a king. Treats, love, lots of hay. Then he moved to Oregon. 

At first it seemed like he would continue his life of royalty. All he needed to do was take his ladies for walks in the park and he would receive full body massages by multiple women at once. Little did he know that the crazy ladies were cooking up a plan to RIDE HIM!

I've been putting all my weight on his back without a saddle. He's worn a saddle around the barn and learned how to stand at the mounting block. Blue's mom has been spending time with him whenever I'm not there and she helped me get on. She led us at first while I figured out what he knows. He doesn't remember much but was an angel considering he hasn't been under saddle in over a year. I couldn't have asked for a better boy. 

We walked around a bit and as soon as he understood "hoa" and "walk on" we were done. He's really smart so that only took five minutes. From now on I won't be the one riding because I really shouldn't be in the saddle yet let alone on a green horse. Luckily I have two friends who are spending lots of time with him so he won't have strangers getting on. We also have a ton of ground work to do so he can be more successful under saddle. I'm so proud of this guy and how hard he tries for his people. 

Pretty dang good for a horse who started his journey my way as an unhandled stallion waiting for to be shipped to slaughter. Thank the heavens that Pony Up Rescue for Equines saw his potentional. 

Going Places

For those of you who haven't followed long, Dickie has loose stifles. His quads are weak so his stifles are wobbly and in extreme cases the patella can lock up. It isn't an injury but is disconcerting to the horse becuase the patella locks up when you are riding. It tends to get better as they mature and get their man muscles in. The prescription is too keep them in steady hard work. It went away over the summer then he spent six months just hanging out. 

Bringing him back to work was a bit of a pain. He really needed five days a week but I can't do that nor could I afford to have trainer do it. Horses with this issue need heavy quad work (poles, backing and hills) but we didn't really have that at old barn. The hills were too slick and poles were used in jumps. 

New barn has been perfect. There are options for hill work no matter how muddy. There are poles that can be left out. And I'm well enough to back him and hand walk over poles several days a week. Progress has been slow but now Dickie is looking fantastic. 

We took him on a trail ride to the top of the hillside and he was rarin' to go the whole time. I think he's going to be in shape just when I'm allowed to start pushing myself in the saddle. My good days finally equal the bad and I can imagine all the fun things we will be able to do this summer. I'm looking at schooling horse trails later in the summer and they actually feel possible. Bring it!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Little Things

It's funny how quickly you forget how much goes into teaching a horse the details of good horse citizenship. I just went through it with Dickie and I already blocked out how much time was spent on the little stuff. Pippin is much further a long than Dickie was. He's also much more receptive to rules. There are still a million things he needs to learn. Leading from the offside won't kill you, mounting blocks don't eat horses, horses don't run from blankets, when people trot horses trot, and humans are allowed to touch horses anywhere. 

Dickie was a hard horse to train because he couldn't stand still (still struggles with this). If you poked him to move over he would protest with pawing front legs and bucking tantrums. But he was pretty fearless and could care less if you put a tarp over his head. Pippin will move away from you with just a touch and is happy to stand with you all day. For the most part he's not spooky. He doesn't care about hoses or mud puddles. However, if there is a human attached to the hose he thinks it might eat him. 

He was already started under saddle but we are treating him like a blank slate to make sure he trusts us. Last week my friend came out to play with him since I don't have as much stamina. She took him into the outdoor and worked on leading from the offside and trotting in hand. He let it be known that there is only one side to lead horses from and attempted to teach her. He also thought for sure she lost her mind when she asked him to trot in hand.  Normally you can just swing the lead role behind you and give the horse a smack to get a horse trotting. Pippin is super sensitive so swinging anything his direction means he side stepped away, at a walk. 

By the end of the session he figured out if the human goes fast it's ok to go fast with her. He still looked at her like she was insane but he went along with her. He thrives off of "good boy" and will try anything as long as he gets praise. 

She came back Sunday and couldn't resist having Pippin time. I had already worked with him but he seemed happy to come out with the people again. He's one of those horses who picks up better than you left off. He acted like leading from the off side was no big deal and trotted in hand like an old pro. We love us some Pippin!! He's so fun. Can't wait to see what he does this week. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Grounded in Paradise

I've had to move a few times in the last few years but I've been really lucky to find great places for the horses.  I believe strongly that getting out of the arena is good for the equine mind and body. This is no exception. There are miles of wide open trails. There are a few slick spots now but it is fine for walking and some trotting. In the summer it will be perfect for cantering and galloping. 

Last weekend my friend (Blue's owner) wanted to go for a ride with her BFF. Dickie needs long slow trail miles so it was perfect. You can see his spotted butt just in front of the camera. Everyone at the barn said he did great. I guess he jigged a little to start then settled right in. 

I'm so jealous. I can't wait to go for a ride. I love getting out on the trails. Trotting and cantering on uneven ground is the best for getting in shape. In a month I'm cleared to ride surgically. My leg pain seems like it might be a herniated disc rather than the piriformis but that does tend to get well on its own. Slowly. Way too slowly. 

I might not get to ride like the other kids but at least the scenery is amazing. For now I'll just putz along at a snails pace and work on my tan. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Pippin Took is a working man

The Pipster spent his first three years as a wild stud. The last two years were spent at an amazing rescue. He was so shy of people that it was a long struggle just to get a halter on him and for him to tolerate a farrier. In the months before moving to my friends house he really started coming out of his shell. Sending him to my friend worked out perfectly. She did all the hard work of getting him to tie, wear saddles, and be haltered by anyone. 

I thought he might need a week to decompress after his ride to a new place but he continues to surprise. Every time we get him out he seems perfectly happy to go on adventures. When he gets worried he never panics and with just w little reassurance he comes right back to you. 

He doesn't like to be walked on the off side and if he's worried he doesn't want people to stand out of his sight (by his shoulder, or torso). Everyday he gets better. He hasn't even been with us for a week and he's tolerating nose kisses, hugs, and being led in by strangers. He even seems to enjoy all the fuss. 
I think he's going to turn into a steady Eddie once he realizes humans are awesome. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

You are An Embarrassment

When your horse is turned out in a herd you want to have the happy go lucky pony who gets along with everyone. Dickie has been in multiple herds both mixed and gelding only. He always seems to get along. He might pester others into playing buts he's never rude. Until now. My horse is officially a bully. 

His best buddy at the last barn was a big sweet thoroughbred named Blue. Blue and Dickie were two peas in a pod. They loved to play but were not exclusive. They still enjoyed the company of other horses and were ruled by a little pony. A few weeks ago my friend decided to move Blue to my barn. When Blue spotted Dickie it was like two lovers being reunited after a war when one thought the other was dead. 

At first we thought it was cute. I was a little surprised because they weren't that close at the old barn. I wasn't super worried though because they did just fine in a herd before. They had a healthy relationship and played nicely with others. This is not the case at new barn. They walk everywhere as close as conjoined twins. If one of them so much as senses another horse looks in their direction. 

This is Mr Blue staring looking heartbroken when we took Dickie away. I always called Blue the good horse at old barn. Blue takes a treat so polite. And he was always a gentleman in the field. He's 17h and the pony could boss him with the flick of an ear from 50 feet away. I've learned not to be suprised by Dickies shenanigans but I'm shocked by Blue's asshattery. Blue bares his teeth like a wild stallion if another horse happens to walk within ten feet of Dickie. The two big bullies are quite enjoying big men on campus. 

I can't fully summarize Dickie's mean girl behaviors without mentioning the cone. The cone existed before Dickie arrived but he decided from day one it belonged to him and only him. Don't s sniff my cone, don't look at my cone, don't walk by my cone. MINE MINE MINE! He packs the cone around sometimes smacking other horses as he goes. So rude Dickie. I disown you. 

Dickie Goes to Boot Camp

Dickie has been worked twice a week by my trainer since my parents passed away. I've always hated the idea of putting a horse in training but I really wanted him in shape by the time I was ready to ride. His loose stifles mean the first few months of riding are essentially PT. Lots of walking over poles, hill work, and trot poles. 

His quads weren't building up much at the old barn because we didn't have access to poles and the hilly areas were slick. He has improved by leaps and bounds in the last month but he really needs to be worked more than twice a week. I can't ride but I can finally walk well enough to do ground work. There are some telephone poles we walk over and the indoor always has cavaletis out. I'm able to back him up ten steps ten times. All the ground work has the added benefit of reminding Dickie that he does in fact have to mind the humans. My trainer makes him remember manners but he's the kind of horse who needs to be handled everyday. Give him an inch and he will body slam you to China. 

The long slow walks seem to be helping me. We wander and when I'm too sore I sit down. Standing in one place is torture for the Spotted Princlett so that's a valuable lesson in itself. Hopefully we will both be in fighting shape by the summer!