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.

OMG!

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 with...one 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
http://asparagusrising.blogspot.com


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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