August 14, 2017

Hay Bale Jumps

I just returned from the first real vacation we've taken in nine years. The past nine days have been spent unplugged from the world while floating on a small yacht somewhere in the inside passage. It was nice to get a lot of reading in and just plain relax for once. Reading for some reason also causes me to want to write. Even if that writing is done, painstakingly, one finger tip at a time on a tablet with no keyboard that I managed to pry from my five year old's death grip. During the trip we occasionally came to port, which in these modern times would have intermittent internet access, allowing me to upload text only blog posts (as you may have noticed). Otherwise, there was no phone calls, no emails, no technology in my life and it was delightful. We managed to fill the technology void with a lot of salmon, crab, and prawns. A lot of them. It was tasty.

Now we are back.

Upon returning last night I was delighted to see that the fields in our neighborhood have been baled. Normally I just look at them and see hay bales, and vermin control. Not this year. All I can think of is riding around in the field and willy-nilly jumping those bales. I am itching to do this today, but with our return also came the rain. Rain we really need, and haven't seen in a long while. So, no riding today unless things dry out by this evening (sadly, this is entirely possible). Tomorrow though...

August 13, 2017

Pursue my Passions

"One thing that that makes a passion enjoyable is that you don't have to worry about results. You can strive for triumph, or you can potter around, tinker, explore, without worrying about efficiency or outcomes." - Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project

Dressage has never a been my passion, horses have. Somewhere along the line I lost sight of that and its been a source of frustration as late. I have become too concerned with the results in the dressage ring, and forgot the rest.

Dressage fell into my life when I got Rose. I planned on doing the hunters with her; I was a hunter/jumper after all. However, I wanted her to have a dressage foundation, as I feel flat work is so important to the development of a jumper. Then a funny thing happened. Rose was naturally good at dressage. She was built for it, bred for it, and doing anything else with her seemed silly.

I plunged myself into the world of dressage. I still remember, standing in the Glison Street Saddlery shop in Portland, Oregon, staring at blingy browbands. Anything flashier than a fancy stitched browband was so foreign to me. Could I really put swarvski crystals on my horse? It turns out I could, and I did. I quickly developed an enjoyment of dressage, dressage shows, and the adult ammy dressage community. Rose made it easy though, but I never knew just how easy dressage came to a horse with naturally lofty gates.

I sold Rose and a year later, after moving to the farm, bought Gentry.

It was natural to dust off my tack and see what fit Gentry. For the most part Roses's tack, complete with blingy Keiffer swarvsky crystals, fit Gentry. He had very little training, so once again I was starting a dressage horse. At this point, due partly to habit and party postpartum anxiety, it did not cross my mind to do anything other than dressage with him. So we carried on, and we struggled. I chalked it up to green horse stuff, but as time passed over the past three years the truth of our struggles began to dawn on me. His gates are neither lofty or expressive. He is quite simply not a natural dressage horse. I had no idea how much more difficult dressage is with a horse that is not bred for dressage. Now I do. 

This does not mean dressage isn't good for Gentry, nor that I will give up riding dressage with him. I would still like to get him to second level, someday. However, that day a few weeks ago when I dusted of my precious fancy stitched, buttery soft, leather goods and decided to jump him, I had a different horse. He was animated in a good way, focused, and fun. His dressage work has made him balanced, rythmatic, adjustable, and established flying changes. He sees his own distances and neither over jumps or hits poles. If he chips, it is my fault.

After three years of dressage with Gentry, I have decided to give hunter equitation a go. He is not built to be a dressage horse, nor is he an elegant hunter type. I no longer have the kahoonas for the jumper ring or cross country. However, I can look pretty while effectively riding a horse. A horse that likes to jump. That leaves us squarely in the world of hunter equitation and dressage equitation. I am exited to have this new focus. At the same time though, there are so many other aspects of horses that I find happiness in. Trail riding, skijoring, braiding, grooming, and just plain toodling. Horses are my passion. Not dressage. That is what I need to get back too and keep sight of.

August 9, 2017

Ride Like you are Ten, not Thirty Nine

Most people are eleven in the sixth grade, I was ten. I dreamed of horses, I drew horses, I collected Breyer horses. I lived in the city. I did not have access to horses. They were viewed as a fleeting, expensive, fantasy of a little girl. My parents had no idea.

Nearly every summer, my family would pile in a wood paneled station wagon and drive the obligatory long haul from Portland to San Diego to visit my grand parents. As we drove seemingly unending miles down the coast, I imagined riding a horse, just outside the window of the car. We were galloping along, wind in my hair, jumping shrubs as they whizzed past the window. Nothing gave me more pleasure on a car trip than that little private game I played.

I didn't have many friends in school, as I suffered the near annual fate of being the "new kid". However, in sixth grade I made an equally horse crazed friend, who's name sadly alludes me thirty years later. She had horses.  We spent our lunch time in the library drawing horses and discussing them, every day. We became boosom friends.

For my birthday that year my parents allowed me to go to her barn and go riding. I didn't know what I was doing, but all those years of imagined obsession seemed to have prepared me; that or i simply had an insane amount of natural talent. We galloped our ponies, helmet free hair blowing in the wind, bareback up a field and through tree lined trails, jumping fallen logs. It was pure joy. Innocence. Fearlessness. Elation. Happiness.

It is that simplicity and happiness that I want to regain in my relationship with horses. This is my current riding goal. A bronze medal will come someday, but happiness needs to come first.

August 1, 2017

Dressage Horse Jumps...Hunter Eq?

My posts have been slim this summer, because due to a booming business (good stuff) and parental responsibilities, and Hubs insistence that we get back to our pre-baby summer weekend routine (lake every weekend), and a USEF/USDF Dressage show that I help plan every summer, there just hasn't been dedicated riding time, show prep time, or time to ride on the weekends. Also throw in a few show barns being quarantined for strangles, and that all equates to no showing for me this summer. That is of course a bummer, because if I don't have an end goal I have a hard time keeping motivation. In the past this wasn't so much an issue because I paid board, and show season or no, the guilt of paying board made me ride 4-5 times a week. Now that I don't have that financial guilt to motivate me, I have developed a bad habit of letting the "other stuff" get in the way of my riding.

The one silver lining to the no showing plan is that when I do ride I don't feel like I need to drill my dressage work non-stop. In fact, last week I felt like I didn't need to do dressage at all. This past spring I had my old Bates Caprilli jumping saddle re-flocked (or rather the horrid CAIR panels ripped out and replaced with wool) and fitted to G-Love. I still hadn't ridden in it, so I decided it was about time that I took it for a spin.

I jumped my horse!

Not only did I jump G-Love, but I had fun and I even put my big girl britches on and jumped a 2' vertical. I know, what you are thinking. "Renee, that is a sad tiny little jump. Your 5 year old kid could do that blind folded and backward on his pony".

You aren't wrong.

However, there is this weird thing that happens when you have a kid. Or at least this is what happened to me. My brain and body got pumped full of anxiety hormones. It honest to goodness feels like I am looking death in the face every single time I even think about jumping. But I did it. Just for the record I haven't jumped 2' since before I got pregnant...6 years ago. That is a long time.

You know what? It wasn't even scary. Death's face was no where to be seen. Take that postpartum anxiety! G-Love was perfect. He seems to really like jumping and naturally finds his spot so long as I stay out of his way. Now of course this has me thinking. He does dressage because I ask him to and he's a good willing boy about it...most of the time. He doesn't love it though. I doubt that he even likes it. It has given him a really good foundation though.

Gentry honestly seems to like jumping. Maybe he even loves it?

Now I'm rethinking my entire identity as an Adult Ammy dressage queen. G-Love would never be competitive in the hunters, he just moves too much like a draft horse. However, he's good at lengthening and shortening and I think we could actually do well in the local Hunter Eq circles. I'm pretty sure we could debut at 2'3" Hunter Eq just as we are now...especially now that he has his changes down (mostly).

Maybe, just maybe...

Forgive the blurry video still...but G has knees!
AND, I don't look too terrible. Though my stirrups are a touch long. Dressage much?

July 7, 2017

A Boy and His Pony

Learning to post at the walk
Pixel has quickly become part of the family, and JR has been enjoying riding him. JR is still on the leadline, but I'm trusting Pixel enough that I think he's ready to ride solo on a longeline at least. Baby steps. Regardless, Pixel continues to be a love and JR adores him.

JR and Pixel's first ride consisted of walk and a little trot on the lead. I also introduced him to the concept of posting and had him practice it at the walk. He did quite good at the walk, but I just let him sit at the trot. He loved trotting! It was the first trot JR ever experienced and he couldn't get enough. The entire time he laughed and wanted to go faster, of course. However, Mom isn't quite ready to see them canter off into the sunset. JR had a blast though and it is my goal to have him ride Pixel at least once a week this summer.
Happy Kiddo!

June 7, 2017

Peace in the Pasture

It took a week, and some good advice (thank you Alanna), but today we finally have a happy peaceful herd.

After last Tuesday's scary attempted introduction of Pixel to Gentry, I had to go back to the drawing board when it comes to herd introductions. Honestly, I've never had to take a gradual approach before. I just put the horses out in the pasture, with food options, and let them do their thing. However, Pixel is tiny compared to the big boys (who are not really that big). I was pretty sure Gentry was going to do some massive damage to Pixel that day if we didn't intervene. Intervene we did, but then what was I to do?

I immediately put Pixel back into his paddock. However, I needed a shared fence-line for them to safely get acquainted. The dilemma therein, is that we don't have multiple paddocks; this isn't a boarding facility. So I scratched my head a bit and drank a beer. After a bit of thought and a second beer, it came to me. During the day, I could turn the big boys out into the pasture and put pixel in the dry lot. That would give them some fence time, and also establish Pixel's presence in the dry lot (I purposefully left his manure piles laying about). The dry-lot is where Gentry lost his friggin' mind on that fateful Tuesday.

We did this for about four days, mostly because I was out of town for two of those days. Thank you AJ for being on top of crazy helicopter horse mom duty for me while I was away! The boys were all well behaved at the fence-line, when they were there that is. Gentry and Daiquiri spent most of their time grazing the top of the pasture and ignoring Pixel's presence.


Once I was back in town, the next step was to hand graze Gentry on a lead line in the front paddock with Pixel. After a minute or two I remembered to breath. Shortly after that I was feeling comfortable that Gentry was not going to eat Pixel, and I let him off with his halter still on. No fireworks, so I put Pixel's grazing muzzle on him and let them graze for a while. In quick order, they seemed to be bonding and enjoying each other's company again. We were made some good progress and ended the day on that good note, aside from the fact that I was out of beer. I gave Hubs the stink eye. Apparently no one (me) went grocery shopping while we were out of town.

The next day, I decided to let Daq meet Pixel in the paddock. Again, I kept him on a lead for a time, until I felt comfortable letting him go. They completely ignored each other the entire time. In hindsight, perhaps I should have introduced Daq to him first. The whole time we were doing this, Gentry was in the pasture and completely freaked out that he was separated from the other two, and more specifically Pixel. He spent the entire time obsessively stalking them and trotting the fence-line.

Note, terribly concerned Gentry in the distant pasture.

Mad man trotting the fence line. Must have Mini-Me!
During the same two days that we were doing the paddock grazing introductions, I decided to section off a portion of the dry-lot as a paddock for Pixel. At this point Pixel was familiar with the dry lot, and all the horses had some time together one on one. My only concern was the fact that the fence that would be separating the horses was hot-wire rope and Gallagher pigtail stakes. Had Rose been part of this equation it would have been a no-go. Enter my seven year old hot-wire PTSD. However, Gentry and Daq are very respectful of hot-wire, and Pixel has shown to be as well, so I decided to put on my big girl pants and risk it. The gamble paid off and all was well. I kept Pixel in this dry lot paddock set up the past two days.

One dry-lot becomes two.
Side note: check out my partially painted barn. Red is up, now I need to do the white trim!
Finally, I let them all out together for morning turnout today. There were some minor shenanigans, and all was well. After an hour I put Pixel's grazing muzzle on him, and they all enjoyed turnout for the day. I was also happy to see that Pixel happily came in at the end of the day to be put away in the dry lot with the big boys. All three of them even shared a cup of oats out of one rubber tub!

Two peas in a pod!

Peace and relief! Oh, and I finally went grocery shopping today, so I've been celebrating with a glass of Chardonnay.

June 5, 2017

Ponying a Pony

One of my goals for Pixel, is that he will be a good companion for Gentry. Like it or not, Gentry hates our outdoor arena. It is in our park, and it is surrounded by mature Cottonwood trees and brush; forest if you like. It is far enough from home that he can't see our place, but not so far that he can't hear the other horses if they call. In addition, he is quite certain that a mountain lion will jump out and eat him. Every. Single. Time. He is fine in our arena if there is another horse present, and he is fine alone in every other arena I have hauled him to.

After several years of dealing with this non-sense, and spending 20 minutes of every ride "working through it", I have finally thrown in the towel. My plan at present is to pony Pixel to the arena with us and tie him up while I ride Gentry. Then I'll tie up Gentry and work with Pixel. The one caveat of that plan, is that I need to be able to pony Pixel.

Today was my first attempt at ponying off of Gentry.

Last time I ponied a horse, was 15 years ago, and it was three polo ponies at once! This was sure to be a piece of cake comparatively.

Both boys did great! Despite the fact that I haven't fully integrated Pixel into the herd yet, he and Gentry had been turned out together for an hour prior to our ride, and had been getting along well, so I wasn't too worried about fireworks. After mounting up and grabbing Pixel's lead, I could tell that Gentry hasn't ponied another horse before, but he figured it out quickly. It also helped that Pixel knew what was going on, even if he was a bit eager and wanted to be right up front with Gentry. I was happy to see that they swiftly settled into a nice rhythm, with Pixel walking politely alongside my leg. Since things were going well, we did a lap around our pasture and headed down the road for a nice 45 min ponying ride at the walk - trot.

June 2, 2017

Pixel Gets a Manicure

Pixel's one big issue, that I knew needed to be addressed immediately, are his feet. They had just been trimmed (aka rasped) a few days before I brought him home, but they were still very long and unbalanced.

Front - Before

Front - Before

Hind - Before

Hind - Before

On Wednesday my farrier came out to take a look and give Pixel a trim. He will get another one in two weeks when Gentry's regularly scheduled shoeing happens. Then Pixel will get trimmed every six weeks with Gentry, after that.

Being a good pony
It seems to my farrier that Pixel has likely foundered in the past (no surprise there); perhaps not a bad founder, but definitely some sort of founder. Regardless, we should be able to get his feet to look somewhat normal again with regular trims, diet and exercise. Pixel is after-all sound, so even if he has foundered in the past, he's recovered from it. Furthermore, we aren't talking about a performance horse here, but a walk-trot pony.
Front - after

Front - after

Hind - after

Hind - after

May 31, 2017

Big Meets Little

For the last week, Gentry and Daiquiri have been ogling Pixel from a distance. I wanted to quarantine Pixel for a week to make sure that he didn't come down with something, so I've been keeping him in our front paddock. Tuesday was the one week mark since his arrival, so it was time to start introducing the boys.

After having turned Gentry out for a half hour in the main pasture, I grabbed him and let him sniff noses with Pixel over the fence. This went well. Oddly, Gentry squealed a bit, which I have never heard him do with another horse before. Otherwise, there were no fireworks, so I put him in with Pixel. This went very well. They walked around, grazed, groomed, drank together, and licked the salt lick together.

Mini-Me! I'm sure most of the neighbors will think Gentry had a baby.
Not even remotely joking here.

I was feeling smug. Gentry is a perfect unicorn that can do no wrong. Clearly evidenced by him being completely adorable with his Mini-Me in the paddock.

After they had been together for a half hour, I thought I'd put them in the dry lot together to keep getting acquainted. The main reason for this was that I didn't want Pixel eating any more grass for the day.

Holy $hit, Batman!

That was a bad idea, as can be evidenced by the lack of photos. The very moment they were both in the dry lot, Gentry went ballistic on poor Pixel, running him down and trying to attack him in every possible way. Luckily Hubs was on hand at this point, and with the aid of a very long longewhip, we were able to get Gentry off of Pixel, and put him back in his paddock.

Luckily there seemed to be no injuries, just a particularly bewildered pony, and horse owner. It seems the herd introduction needs to be a bit more gradual and a new approach devised...

May 25, 2017

Meet Pixel!

This week brought a new little fella into our lives. Meet Pixel, JR's pony. He is a sweet little lamb of a thing and I look forward to having him in our lives. JR is absolutely in love with him, and has thanked me nearly 100 times for getting him a pony. It's nice, as a Mom, to finally be thanked for doing something.

Meet Pixel!

He's a pony of some sort (don't have a clue on the breeding), but for a small pony he is rather decently put together. His feet are too long and need to be addressed/managed of course, as does his diet, but otherwise he's a healthy sound little guy. He is 12 years old, 11.1hh, and 460lbs.

Pixel, conformation 5/25/17

He wanted to eat my camera lens cap
I'm sure there will be more to come about Pixel, so stay tuned!

P.S. I knew I had to get him when I realized he more or less matched Gentry.

May 6, 2017

Summer Dayz

In true Montana style, after snowing last week, it has been in the 80's for the last three days. The grass has grown like crazy and today the trees are finally starting to put out leaves. I seriously have weather whiplash, but I will NEVER complain about the hot weather. I love it so! 
Post Bath, shiny clean boy!

The warm weather has dried up our grass arena, allowing me to ride regularly this week. It has also finally allowed me to give Gentry a few much needed baths. I can finally run a comb through his ginormous thick tail. That is a glorious thing!

Unfortunately, riding regularly alone in the arena has caused an old issue to raise it's head again. Gentry gets bad anxiety about being alone in our arena. I've never had him alone anywhere else, so I don't know if it is just our arena or not. Everywhere I haul him to has horses, so he is content and is easy to work with when we haul places, as he's not concerned with a particular horse. He just doesn't like being alone. I know eventually he will get over it, as he did last year, but it is frustrating to ride a tense anxious horse day after day. At this point, all I can think to do is to put in some tie posts at the arena and pony Daq down to the arena with us when I ride. We have a schooling show in two weeks, and I really don't think we will be ready at this rate. Unless they ask us to ride our test like a giraffe while cross cantering on the wrong lead. Then we will kick some arse!

At the very least, I got some fairly nice photos of G-Love playing in the pasture today. Enjoy the photo bomb.
Hello suspension. Note that the pasture grass is 4" tall and he's clearing that by quite a bit!

Kind of a derpy photo, as he's changing direction, but check out the muscle tone on his haunches! 
Such a cute face

April 30, 2017

Oh Joy! Trailer Loading Dramas

It has been a LONG winter here in Montana. When I say long, I'm not talking about snow in February or March, I'm talking about how we had snow on the ground every day this past week at the END of April. The reality is this is a "normal" Montana spring, but it's been a while since we've had one so I am a bit out of practice. Regardless, it just seems that mother nature is not on my side this year.

Thursday morning, much like Tuesday and Wednesday

We got 2" of precipitation last week between snow melt and rain. That equated to my grass arena becoming completely unusable. Yes, I can trail ride on our gravel road, but that doesn't help much when it comes to getting ready for our schooling show in May. So, I have been hauling into my old barn that I first kept Rose at when we moved back to town. It is also where we hold our local dressage shows, and it's only about 20 minutes from my house.

Hauling in there has been heaven! I miss boarding there so much. As nice as it is to have your horse at home and have 100% control over their care, I really miss the barn. I miss the social aspect of things. I miss being able to just show up, have pony time, and then go home.

The only thing that hasn't been great has been Gentry's sudden decision to not load onto the trailer. All of a sudden one day this past winter, he started balking at getting on the trailer, but he would still do it. Suddenly this week he said a big ole "Heck NO!" and would not get on.

Now, maybe it was because I was trying to load Gentry during a distant thunderstorm, or because the previous haul was to the vet for a float and sheath cleaning, or maybe its just because he's got a bee in his bonnet. I don't know, but it is really aggravating, and I have no tolerance for horses that don't load. After getting him on the trailer and managing a ride, I started planning our weekend.

It was time for loading boot camp.
Trailer floor with mats removed

On Saturday, I prepared to do nothing but get him back on the trailer, willingly. First though, I decided to pull all my rubber mats out and inspect the trailer floorboards. For 18 year old boards they are in okay shape. Regardless I have decided to replace them. There is quite a bit of rot around the screws at the door. Nothing super dangerous, and nothing that is contributing to him balking at loading, but they will need to be replaced sometime in the not to distant future, so I'm doing it now before it becomes dangerous. Having eliminated the floor as an issue, it was time to get his rump back on the trailer.
Minimal floorboard rot, but rot non-the-less

Now, I don't know about you, but pulling a horse on a trailer rarely works for me. Instead, the following is the method that I more or less mastered when I was training Rose to load all those years ago. I enlisted Hub's help as my rump man, to provide some gentle but annoyingly repetitive and persistent encouragement from the back. I put a bucket of feed in the front of the trailer, for a big reward. Then I asked him to load. He could stand there all day so long as he didn't back up, and got big pets and kudos for moving forward. The moment he took a step back I longed him in tiny circles at the back of the trailer. We repeated this a few times until he finally gave in and got on the trailer. Once he was all the way on he got some grain as a reward. Then I backed him off and repeated the whole thing several more times until he was more or less self loading with enthusiasm.

2.5-year old Rose learning to load

That was Saturday though. Would Sunday be a repeat affair?

I was hopeful but realistic about loading him the next day. Best to prepare for the worst and be pleased by whatever you get. To my delight, Gentry had a brief pause but then got right on the trailer, and off we went to the indoor for a ride. After our ride, he hopped right on the trailer to come home, no pause at all. I am sure that we will still have to do boot camp a few more times, but I am please that Gentry is so easy to work with when it comes to these things.

In retrospect, the only other physical factor, other than rotten floorboards, that I can think of that would cause him to not want to load is my driving. Our truck has a manual transmission, and perhaps I'm not shifting smoothly enough, or I am accelerating and slowing down too abruptly? When I hauled him on Sunday I paid a lot of attention to my driving and made and effort to be as smooth and gentle as possible. Given how happy he was to hop on and come home, maybe the whole issue simply boiled down driving skills?

February 25, 2017

Will the Micklem Bridle Fix the Chomping?

After the big saddle purchase, I decided to try out a Micklem bridle that I borrowed from a friend. I really want to get to the bottom of Gentry's chomping issues.

Gentry in the horse size Micklem bridle

The weekend I borrowed the bridle we still had a bunch of wet snow on the ground, so I decided to just go for a trail ride on the road rather than attempt to haul anywhere. Gentry was a mess. He chomped worse than normal. I quickly decided the bridle would not fix the problem, I also had no idea why he was being so bad about the chomping and was acting like a fool anytime I asked for a trot. I was perplexed and aggravated.

Then I got off him.

Poor guy Gentry had huge snowballs on the bottom of his feet. No wonder he was acting up and not happy. So, I can't say that this ride was a fair assessment of the Micklem. Without the snowballs he may have been dead quite. However, shortly after that I went for another ride in his regular bridle and he was dead quite. I am now thinking that my old saddle, which didn't fit him at all, was the cause of the bit chomping.

To be fair to the Micklem, I found it to be a nice looking bridle. In fact, I was surprised by how much I liked it. The horse size fit Gentry perfect, and if for some reason I just wanted to mix thing up I would splurge on purchasing one for him. However, I do not like cleaning and oiling numerous bridles throughout the winter, so one dressage bridle at a time is enough for me. Since he has now stopped the chomping, I will be sticking with our Keiffer bridle. The problem seems to be solved.

February 10, 2017

Mother Nature Migraine

Following my big saddle purchase; I very excited to start riding in my new-to-me Dresch. I started imagining all the things that we will accomplish in the saddle. I got excited about the show season darn it! Then Mother Nature promptly did this to me:

1' foot of snow in one day. On top of the snow we've already had on the ground since November.

Icy/snowy roads promptly put a halt to hauling a trailer at night across town and riding on the road. I did try once to ride on the road and poor Gentry had softball size snowballs on the bottom of his feet. For both of our sake, I have not tried to repeat that experience. Just as I decide to throw in the towel, accept that winter is hanging around for a while longer, and self medicate with some more equine retail therapy (more on that later), this happens:

Yep. All of a sudden it warmed up to 50 degrees, and started raining. Everything promptly turned to permafrost mud, and flooded. Oh joy. The only silver lining is that our roads are now sporting beautiful ride-able gravel again and (fingers crossed) I will be able to ride on the road tomorrow.

January 25, 2017

Trying out the Dresch Legolas Monoflap

After ruling out the Ryder Lux saddle, the saddle fitter had me try three saddles that she had with her. Two were used Dresch saddles and one was a new Patrick. I do not recall the model of the first Dresch or the Patrick. However, when I sat in the Legolas I felt as though it was made for  me.

Dresch Legolas Monoflap
If you don't know what that feeling is, all I can compare it to is wedding dress shopping. When you know you know, it is an instant yes. There is no talking yourself into it.

I actually liked the Patrick a lot, however the seat did this weird thing where it pitched me forward. Being that I am doing everything in my power to erase my hunter/jumper perch from muscle memory, I did not think having a dressage saddle that encouraged me to perch was a good idea. I did like everything else about the saddle though.

The first Dresch was quite nice too, however the seat was too big. That was one of the greatest things I got out of this saddle fitting, was realizing that I do not need as large of a seat as I thought. I've always had larger seats to accommodate my very long femur, but really what I need is the right size and shape knee roll and flap.

Anyway, I liked the Legolas so much that I decided to keep it on trial. Given that we were fitting the saddle at my barn with only my snowy pasture available to ride in, I couldn't really try it out that day. However, A few days later I was able to haul over to my friend's indoor and give it a good go.


Gentry was a different horse! I couldn't believe it. I rode him for a good 45 minutes and did not once have to pick up my whip. Usually he has energy for 10 minutes and then completely dies and I have to carry the whip to keep him in front of my leg.

Gentry just kept going, doing anything I asked, with enthusiasm, and never even attempted to break at the canter. One time during the ride, he picked up the wrong lead and even gave me a flying change to fix it!

The saddle is a keeper...and I guess my saddle purchase budget just got A LOT bigger.

Upon reflection, I think my Bates Caprilli was so ill fitted to Gentry that it was hurting him. Beyond the fact that it is too long for his back, there are probably other pressure points bothering him as well. When I would ride him, it must not have been so much that he was out of energy after 10-minutes, as it was that his back hurt. Not the kind of epiphany I like to make, but it is one none the less.

Another epiphany I made was the my Bates has not sprung a leak! While riding in the Legolas I heard the same pshew sound once again coming from the right side of my saddle. Clearly the Legolas doesn't have CAIR panels, so I deduced from this that the Bates was not in fact leaking. Instead, the sound seems to be coming from the sued inner lining of my Ariat winter riding boots. Its a relief to know that the Bates is still sound and doesn't need the CAIR panels pulled after all.

January 23, 2017

Saddle Disappointment

I had an amazing experience with the saddle fitter on Thursday. She was so generous with her time and knowledge. I learned a lot.

As it turns out the Ryder Lux did not fit Gentry...nor me! While it could have been adjusted and re-flocked to fit him, there is not much you can do to make a saddle fit a rider. The biggest issue with it was that the the flap was too long for my leg. Also, it seems that it has been adjusted before, because it was very wide for a MW saddle. Being that it has a standard English tree, it could be adjusted again, but from my understanding you don't want to do that too much with that sort of tree or it gets really weak. So, that was a big bummer. It really was quite a nice saddle and comfortable to sit in.

However, the saddle fitter brought along a few other used saddles for me to try and I had a good time getting to sit in a few saddles that I've never tried before, and also a few that I am familiar of which I am currently keeping on trial. More to come on that...

January 17, 2017

Ryder Lux Dressage Saddle

The saddle shopping has begun in earnest. While I am fine purchasing a saddle on Ebay, I still prefer a local in-person purchase when I can. So, through the local dressage grapevine I have ended up with this beauty to try out. It is a Ryder Lux dressage saddle, 17.5" MW, and nicely within my budget. I am hoping that it will work. Plus, I actually know this saddle. I rode in it for a time back when I had Rose and was between saddles. I liked it then, and it fit her well, but I was selling her and it seemed silly to buy the saddle at the time. 

Today was the day that I was going to give it a good trial run. However, my plans to haul to my friend's house tonight and properly ride in it vanished when we suddenly had an emergency at the office and Hubs would not be home until very late.

That left me with two options.

A. I could lament my sad situation, open a bottle of wine, and continue to bat my eyes at the pretty object cozied up in my office chair; Or...

B. I could get my kid in his snow clothes, tell him he has to play outside in my vicinity, but not too close so as not to get squished by huge horse feet, and attempt to ride through 1-foot of snow in my front paddock. 

I went for option B.

Let me tell you, option B was a big thing for me. This was the first time since JR was born that it even crossed my mind (rather, I felt comfortable enough that he wouldn't kill himself without 100% of my supervision) to ride my horse while he was doing his own thing. In case you lost count, JR is now 4-1/2 years old.

So, feeling comfortable that JR would manage to not kill himself while my attentions were elsewhere, it was time to get off my princess perch and just deal with what I had. A very snowy sloping paddock. It was not the best ride, but good enough to get a feel for the saddle. I think I like it, a lot.

Gentry with the Ryder Lux saddle, and apparently a winter hay belly in the works.
Given the terrain, it is hard to be too critical. Gentry was trotting like a giant warmblood through the snow, which made a sitting trot impossible, and the canter felt like we were flying. Probably because we were, given that he had to lift his feet so high to trudge through the deep snow. Through all of this, the saddle was quite comfy and did it's job,
Ryder Lux, seems to be just short enough for his short back.
Note the red arrow and tape mark I made to compare it to my Bates Caprilli.

Bates Caprilli, more than an inch longer than the Ryder.
As for the fit, it seems to fit him very well. Much better than my Bates Caprilli. It certainly fits my bum and legs just fine. I will know more on Thursday when the saddle fitter will be out and I can get her opinion. I will also plan to ride Gentry on the nice snow packed road that day, not in 1' of paddock snow. I will be sore tomorrow. Talk about a sitting trot ab workout!

January 16, 2017

The Farm Renovation Blog is Back

I know, I know, you come here for your love of Gentry, and to hear all about how he is my personal unicorn (yes, he poops glitter, really...especially if you dip horse cookies in Elmer's glue and glitter before feeding him. Just kidding, I'd never do that...really).

Just in case you have interests outside of the horse world. Yeah, I know, supposedly there is life outside horses. Crazy, I know. I digress. If you like things like house and farm renovations then you might be interested in my other blog, which you may not know about. So that's what I am here to tell you about today.

I had started the blog in 2014 when we moved in. However, as time went by I found that I needed to take a break from the renovation blog for a while. At the time there was just so much other stuff in my life to do, and as it was I have struggled to maintain Adventures in Colt Starting.

However, we are back and focusing on the renovations again, so the blog is back. Unfortunately I had irrationally deleted the blog, and therefore can't just get the name back. Luckily I did save all my old posts and have added them to the new blog. Wow, a lot has changed in two years! Anyhow, the blog is back but with a new name and URL. If you'd like to follow along you can join me at:

Aparagus Rising

January 14, 2017

It Sprung a Leak!

I've been riding occasionally through the winter this year. Hooray! The plan was to haul into my friend's private indoor arena Tuesday and Thursday nights, weather dependent (I want to be just like her when I grow up; at 39 I still have time to do that right?). She is all the way across the valley, so the frequency of riding, due to poor road conditions, has not been twice a week. It has still been very nice regardless! I am hoping that as we move into February, the frequency will improve.

Where am I going with this, you ask?

Last week when I was riding I started to hear a very rhythmic pshew, pshew, pshew sound coming from the right side of my saddle. It appears that my Bates Caprilli CAIR panel has sprung a leak! I've never truly liked the CAIR panels, and have always wanted to get it wool flocked. Not that I'm a huge fan of the saddle in general, but it is a convenient one for young horses, or if you frequently ride different horses.

I am not in either of those situations at the moment though, so I have decided it is time to get Gentry a saddle specifically for him. No, I am not dropping 5k on a custom saddle, though I wish I could justify it. If I did that, I'm pretty sure I'd be dropping 5k on divorce papers! So, in the vein of continuing to enjoy a happy marriage, I am being realistic about my budget. I have $1800 to spend, and I'm hoping to find a decent used saddle that fits Gentry well, within that price.

What does that get me? Well, it gets one into a lot of different saddle options. I will tell you what it won’t get me though, which I'm sad about. It won't get me a Dresch Legolas Monoflap, or a County Fusion. Both of those saddles fit Gentry's short back perfectly. That is my challenge in finding him a saddle. He has a very short back, and whatever saddle I get needs to have up-swept panels on the back to keep it off of his 18th vertebrae. This is something my Bates currently sits on; another reason for a new saddle for him.

The second challenge is my geographical location. Saddle fitters do not exactly flock to South West Montana to sell used saddles. This is a position I've been in before, and I know I will find something, and it’ll likely involve the internet, but in the mean time I will be having the one saddle fitter in the area pull out my CAIR panels and wool flock my Bates. Regardless of the new saddle, I will be keeping the Bates, if for no other reason than to have it fitted to JR's future pony, so that I can insure the pony remains kid friendly. That is a whole other topic for another day.

Right now though, enjoy this photo of Gentry NOT being ridden. Looks like I have some bareback rides in the near future.


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