Friday, May 28, 2010

Saddle Musings

As you know, I am thinking about saddles lately. I am considering replacing my western saddle(s). I have never fallen in love with my show saddle, and I have an inkling that my training saddle does not fit the best. It's not a violent ill fitting or I would be having increased issues with him and not have had the good positive growth we've had over the past (nearly) 2 years. Once I move to the new barn in a month I am going to have their chiro take a look at Junior and our saddles. I'm not riding much in the mean time due to my foot and if we've lasted this long in a less-than-ideal saddle fit I doubt we're in any immediate danger. I LIKE my training saddle. It's comfortable, not too heavy, and I don't have to worry about keeping it in any sort of pristine condition. I can set it down, toss it around, bump into doors, let the cats sit on it, let the rain hit it on the way to the arena, you name it. I LOVE that about the saddle and it makes me hesitant to get that pretty fancy one from my last post. On the other hand, I know perfectly well that Junior is not a western pleasure horse. If anything he's a hunter under saddle and maybe even a dressage horse. I mean, come on, we've spent the last two years riding in western tack, trying to get him to slow and collect and he's still not placing well in the western and yet we toss English tack on at a show and come home with ribbons. Clearly he is better suited to English. I also know that I really ought to be riding in an English saddle more often. It's harder. It works more muscles. It takes better balance. I know this, and now that I have my balance and seat at a much better place than when I got back into riding 3 years ago and I should stop using that western saddle as a crutch. I needed that deep seat, that high swell, and that rough-out leather. I don't NEED that anymore. It makes it too easy. And yes, I can do it the easy way if I want to, but it won't make me a better horsemaster. Western saddles were developed to make it easier to spend long hours in a saddle, easier to stay in the tack during quick maneuvers. But I think of that as something to earn. Hard work in the saddle earns you an easier ride. It's why pony rides and trail strings (at least in the USA) use western saddle, and why so many of those weird (sorry) weekend people who never ride except on multi-day trail rides on weekends while drinking beer use them: they're harder to fall out of. It's why they call what I have a "training saddle" it's supposed to be for training. It's rough out so it's stickier. But I never have had a use for all those giant dees.

I guess I'll see what the chiro/saddle fitter has to say and go from there. It might all be in my head, or it might be a chiro issue but NOT a fit issue.

The only thing I'm NOT ready for with riding English more is that it makes my feet hurt. The bottoms of my feet go numb where they sit in the stirrups. Any ideas on how to fix that? Offset or flexible irons perhaps?

I took my fall and winter blankets to the laundromat today and now they're drying on my patio. For the first time I used this spinner machine they have to "cut drying time in half" and WOW they were SO much drier afterwards. TOTALLY worth the extra $1. I also used Schneider's Blanket Wash for the first time and I am VERY pleased with how clean the blankets look/feel and how they did NOT smell like wet blankets afterwards, even when I left them wet in the car and went in to the grocery store in 80 degree weather!

Once they're thoroughly dry they'll be put into those giant zip lock bags (I use them like space bags) and stored for next winter.

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