Saturday, March 7, 2009

Reality Check

Isn't it always when you feel like things are going really well that something happens to smack you back into reality?

I haven't ridden in an English saddle in over two years. I haven't put ON and English saddle in that long and never on Junior. It took me forever to get the saddle on and in a position I thought was correct. It seemed really far back and the girth looked like it was reaching forward, plus the saddle blanket was sitting funny. I had to pick up the front end of it otherwise the girth keepers were too far back. The pictures are BEFORE I rode. When I went to mount the saddle slid off towards me. Ooops thought it was tight. I moved it again and it wanted to be even further back. KAT saw it and said she liked it and that I had it fit correctly. I made it as tight as I could get it on the stiff billets. This new saddle has barely been ridden in - the plastic for the tag is still on the saddle. I LOVE the color. I mounted but still felt like it was loose. I eventually got him to stand still and I took it up one more hole.

Here is where the reality check comes in: I've been planning to show him in WP and HUS. I THINK we've been making really good progress, I even loped him this week one handed and he did pretty well. Probably not in the ribbons, but respectable progress. Now, here I am THINKING I will only use an English saddle for a few lessons and then at shows and that he'll be so used to working in frame he'll be fine in a snaffle. Um. Yeah. NO. Neither of us passed this test. When I started riding I felt just like I did when I took a lesson after not riding for about 5 years. SACK O' POTATOES. You can see that it's not the deepest seat available, but it's certainly NOT racing flat, but I was VERY unbalanced and insecure. It doesn't help that he hasn't been ridden in a plain (slow twist) snaffle since December and I could NOT get him into frame. I got about a half a lap of JOG in proper frame a few times, but when I would ask for extension he would pop his head up. I do not think the saddle was ill fitting or that he was uncomfortable, I think he was confused why I was using some contact and asking him to trot out. He has been going so nice and slow at the jog without much interference from me so I think he was saying "what the hell lady?! You're giving me bit contact and leg - doesn't that mean you want me to stay at the same gait, slow down and get in frame? And why are you bouncing? What's with the bouncing? And why can I feel every little movement of your legs and shouldn't I be weaving around if I LISTEN to those floppy legs of yours?!?" I'm not sure if HE'S ever had an English saddle on either and my guess is NO.

On the bright side I actually thought our canter wasn't all bad, but I could be wrong, it's hard to see from atop when you're trying REALLY hard to just not fall off. So I THOUGHT I could just jump on an English saddle a few times and be fine but it seems I've gotten used to the bulk and security of my western saddle, he's gotten used to a shanked bit, and it's going to take some serious work to get us comfortable in English. This is not something I anticipated because I STARTED riding English and didn't even take a western lesson until fall of 2007 when I started riding here. I used to HATE how western saddles felt so stiff and bulky. I guess the tables have turned and this means a LOT more work is ahead. I think I like the saddle, though. I wasn't uncomfortable, just weird.

Once I get new leathers (I was using my god-awful old cheap ones and they were not comfy) I will schedule a private lesson with KAT and that should put us on the right track..... I hope. Maybe I was doing to wrong? Riding my WP horse like my old Arab hunters? I'll see if she thinks we should concentrate on one discipline for this first year or if she thinks I should try to do both. One would certainly be cheaper, but would make going to a show for one class a little expensive.


  1. The saddle and pad seem to fit really well from the looks of your pictures - looks balanced front to back as well...

    I love your horse's colour, btw!

    I've been riding western for about a year and put my english saddle on last month to ride - what a mess! I couldn't keep my legs steady and my balance was terrible!

    I'm not showing, so I'll stick to western for now!

    I'm sure you guys will be able to get it all sorted out soon.

  2. Thanks! I'm glad I'm not the only one!