Sunday, September 20, 2015

Tack Shops and Lesson

One of our local tack shops is going out of business and is selling their stock off at 50%. I didn't really need anything, so naturally I had to go check it out.

I got: 1 pair of FITS performax full seat breeches in Stone with Black patches, 1 pair of FITS tights (with the pebbles instead of the full seat deer skin patches) in black, 1 pair of zocks that remind me of a pink giraffe.

Penn got: a 44" double elastic synthetic/gel brown girth (I've been using a 46" that belongs to trainer for my jump saddle, I hate double elastic but they didn't have a 46" that I liked), new web reins for the jump bridle (we haven't used it on Penn yet, but my current reins are rubber web and awful), fly spray, and tack conditioner.

What I really needed was the Pessoa XW saddle plate for my jump saddle. Penn is filling out so much- he's outgrown the wide plate I had in for Mikey. But alas, this tack shop never carried Pessoas, so they didn't have the plates.

So what to do? Well it meant I needed to go to my usual tack shop! I went there Wednesday afternoon. I picked up a plate and another set of black web reins. Penn so graciously chewed our current reins when I wasn't paying attention at cross country schooling... They're not in danger of breaking, but they're ugly looking now (plus they were missing a rein nub anyway). My usual shop had them marked down for some reason (owner didn't know why either), so they were a great price. So now I have a set for shows, yay!

A Stubben rep was in the store yesterday, and I talked to him about the Euphoria saddle and asked if he had one with him (he didn't) but he can send the shop a trial saddle when I'm ready to shop for a new dressage saddle. Which, by the way, is super annoying because I love my Jaguar and it's in pristine condition. Yet Penn continues to defy his mostly Thoroughbred breeding and is filling out so much that the Jag is too narrow for him in the shoulder. It was meant for a thoroughbred type with high whithers and a broad back. Penn has the broad back, but his whithers have filled out and it just isn't sitting right on him anymore (not that it ever did). I can alleviate some of the fit problem by using a fleece half pad to lift the whole thing up and then I can slide my hand under the front panel easily. Come March, I'll be saddle shopping. Yuck.

I'll look at the Euphoria saddle, and then talk to CWD. Trainer has a sponsorship with them, so the rep is out anyway. I'm really only interested in monoflap saddles, and nothing that promises to "hold you in". The only thing that should be holding me in is my bra! Anyway, so I got used to nice things... so we're of course looking at $$$$ for a new saddle. I know now that the Euphoria isn't a monoflap, but I like the description anyway.

Monday night, Penn and I visited Mikey's  grave.
I told him that his big brother is there, keeping an eye on us.

I was able to lesson and go to the tack shop because Sophie got spayed last Wednesday, and because of the drop off/pick up times, I needed to take some time off work... so I just took the whole day!

Sophie mewing in the car when I picked her up. She was ready to go home!
Penn was really good in our lesson. Trainer asked what I wanted to work on, and I asked her about the canter. I hadn't touched on it that much because it was either balanced or running and motorcycling and I was having trouble fixing it.

We started with spiral in and out in trot from a 20m circle to 10m and back. I had to pay attention to how much I held with my inside hand... I had a hard time getting my inside leg on him at the girth to get the bend when the circle got down to 10-12m. It's easier for me to do in sitting trot, but Penn isn't strong enough for that yet.

When Penn would find his balance and bend, he'd fill the rein properly and the contact would become very elastic. He's actually able to hold that for more than two steps, and the spiral in and out helped him. We'd spiral out 2-5m each time I asked for it, in a move over NOW step and then hold it steps.

We did a couple in and out each direction before touching on canter. We added canter by spiraling in to 12m or so, finding super bend and elastic contact, spiraling out slowly, then as soon as we hit 20m, strike off in the canter.

What became immediately apparent is you can't apply inside leg to outside rein to get bend, it just makes him run off at this point in his training because he doesn't understand. That and his outside hind leg kind of goes off into la la land. He doesn't understand how to balance himself on the circle and keep moving. I forget how my trainer phrased it, but she basically said someone just tried to slow him down and never balanced him in canter. He doesn't move that fast in canter, he just has a BIG canter.

To the left: Think straight on a curved line to fix the balance issue, then spiral in and out between 15m and 20m. This is his worse direction. Change the bend from straight to true bend and back again every few strides, and spiral in and out.

To the right: Same thinking of straight to true bend, but hold it to an 18m circle or so. This is his better direction and it mostly needs balance and strength.

I'm not supposed to spend much time cantering on a full 20m circle, only because since his motion is so big, his outside hind leg is off in Siberia, and those things combined make him tend to fall out on his circles. I knew this from his videos- he was being ridden in a 20x60m indoor arena, yet his rider seemed to find 25-30m circles to canter him on. He needs the 18m circle to remove the wall aspect of the arena to force him to find the outside hind and stand up.

We only did one canter each direction. By that point the half hour was up and so was most of Penn's butt muscle power.

I rode him again Thursday night and did a 15-20 min repeat of lesson. He wasn't quite as on as he was in lesson, but he was a little distracted by another horse lessoning and I'm sure he was tired still from the day before. He was still good. I ended up sitting a trot spiral to the canter because he was getting speedy and counterbent and tucking his chin into his chest/shortening his neck. I helped him get his trot work together, found elastic contact, asked for canter and had the best left lead canter yet! Pats for the good boy.

I learned a couple things about him this week: He really doesn't like other horses near him when being ridden- he pins his ears and snakes his face out. He's such a pushover the in field, yet he's willing to bite other horses while under saddle! He isn't bothered by other horses leaving the outdoor and ends up left by himself. If anything, he's much better riding alone than with a friend! He also enjoys going for his rides in the morning rather than evening (tough luck buddy, I work 5 days a week!). I don't think that has to do with leaving his friends in the field, he's quite happy to come with me. I think it just has to do with the time of day/shadows/sounds etc.

Speaking of happy to go with me, I had to leave him in the cross ties to check out the tractor for this weekend (I'm the help on Saturday), and he stood very quietly and we never heard a sound from him, until I walked back into the barn aisle and he saw me and nickered at me. OMG, all the feels and love.

First successful horse and human selfie. I never was able to get Mikey in one!
Plus my helmet hair. Should have put my ball cap back on.


  1. sounds like you're having more fun saddle shopping than i am haha. Penn sounds like he's doing so well too!!

    1. When I shopped for Mikey back in 2013, I was at my wit's end. The local tack shop sells Jaguars, and I eventually said screw it, let me bring home the $4000 saddle. It turns out that fit Mikey like a glove, but it wasn't the right flap length for me, so I had to wait for one to be made. Then another one to be made because they made one that the only thing right about it was the seat size. It was a nightmare, but I love that saddle. I've already been through the ringer with it, and Trainer seemed to think I could get an essentially custom made monoflap CWD for around $4k, so I think that's what I'm going to do. Sell the Jaguar for a pretty penny, then I only have to come up with a little bit more.

      Penn is doing so well, so much better than I expected. I won the horse lottery with him (after Mikey of course!)