Thursday, October 2, 2014

Relaxing... and a bit of shopping

I have not been up to much, however I have a bunch of little things. Mostly Mikey and I have been relaxing and not working. We're going to work hard all winter so we're both taking some down time. Mikey seems good with it, he's walking over to me in the field when I go fetch him after work. Not that he was a hard horse to catch, usually I have to walk to him, he doesn't just offer himself up.

I went to a schooling show at the end of August, got similar scores as my rated shows. I did get to be the "big fish in a small pond" as the only rider riding above 1st level out of 8 hours worth of show. I know I shouldn't crave attention, especially for the mediocrity I'm putting out at 3rd level, but it was nice to have strangers come to the ring and fill the bleachers just to see me ride, and they even clapped for me at the end of my tests. After a kind of disappointing summer at 3rd, it still felt nice. I also feel out of place at my event barn- I train alone usually and I don't go to the shows and outings with everyone else. Partly because I don't really jump anymore so hunter shows hold zero appeal and events are out of the question, and partly because my schedule doesn't work well for me to go xc schooling with them on Wednesday afternoons when they're starting while I'm still at my desk. I've tagged along to those in the past, Mikey and I still enjoy hopping over logs and milling around with the group and being lead pony for young things that are afraid of water and jumping off banks. So all I'm saying was a little recognition in my own world was nice.

I'm not one for new gadgets that promise to 'free your horse's back, let him stretch, and cure cancer!' (as a side note, I love my Micklem bridle and will peddle it anywhere!) But I am allowing myself to indulge in a $125 Total Saddle Fit Shoulder Relief Girth once Mikey is at his winter home. At my last lesson with my trainer, she was happy with his collection but commented on his trot and half pass being correct, but lacking the grandeur up front that gets the extra point in dressage. She had an OTTB like him that had a very average trot, great walk and canter (let's look at the facts, a thoroughbred's first and foremost job is run as fast as he can on the flat which doesn't involve trot). She ended up putting slight wedge-like pads on his front feet (he still needed to be able to navigate 3'9" xc jumps) to give him a tiny amount of extra action and said we might want to do something like that next year. I also saw the German Riding Master last week and asked to work on collection and engagement because that's where I'm losing points all around and the work isn't getting easier. We worked on getting to half steps in prep for thinking about passage/piaffe, and he said he was very happy with the action and engagement behind, but Mikey's front end just didn't match the action. I figure I'm going to try to rule out shoulder tightness with this girth (it apparently frees the scapula) before I change his very simple, straightforward, and cheaper shoeing. Mikey's saddle fits him very very well so I doubt that is a problem, and he doesn't complain when something doesn't fit, but he does reward me when I get something that fits him a bit better. At a 110% money back guarantee and 30 day trial period, I can only lose out on some shipping. I also may spring for their 6-Point Saddle Pad sometime in the future. Mikey likes his sheepskin and has massive pointy whithers. It is the only pad that makes sense to me as true whither relief. I don't need the shims, but it's nice to know they're there if I need them. It also comes with the same return policy. Nifty.

"The girth" image from Total Saddle Fit's website.
6 Point Saddle Pad, image from Total Saddle Fit's website.

I also allowed myself a bit of fun and got these from Amazon. Also if you shop at Amazon, please look into Amazon Smile! Portions of your purchase price will go to your favorite charity, horsey or otherwise! :-) My charity is a local animal shelter that we got one of our cats from. Not much goes, something like half a percent, but I figure I buy a lot there because we have Amazon Prime, a little will add up over time.
I'm always writing my own numbers on the backs of old bridle tags so Mikey has a number on his halter and bridle at all times, none of this switching them or anything. This seemed like a classy way to do it and I can stop hording old numbers on the whip rack in my trailer. It hooks onto the browband like a regular number, but there's a leather strap with snap that goes around the cheek pieces that really holds it on.

And last but not least, we finally went out to find my trainer's secret creek crossing spot that she takes horses to that need to learn about crossing water. It's a great spot, very wide (24' at least), and easy to navigate. Where you enter it's a good beach with flat rock under water that is only hoof deep, then you can walk upstream or downstream where the water gets deeper in places.
I swear he's not this scruffy looking. And my disgusting saddle bag saddle pad came along for the ride because I needed nippers to trim some thorn bushes that were trying to take my face off!
Love my big red horse.

Mikey walking with his new best trail buddy Ed, who at 18 hands has a big enough stride to keep up with the walking speed of an impatient Thoroughbred.

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