Moving forward … literally

Enjoying some treats after a good ride tonight

Enjoying some treats after a good ride tonight

It’s been an interesting couple days at the ranch.  Wintec Isabel #5 arrived safe and sound to its new forever home with me.  I swear I will never sell this saddle. I put the medium narrow (green) gullet in, and we had our first ride in it on Sunday.  It was a nice ride with pretty much none of the resistance I had experienced last week.   Great, I thought.  The other saddle didn’t fit well and we’re back in business.


Unfortunately the resistance returned in my lesson on Wednesday.  So I had some behavior I had to deal with.  Awesome.

Last night, the ride went well for about 30 minutes until a walk break. When I asked Derby to march forward in a working walk, he resisted, hollowing, throwing his head and even getting a little light in front, like he was thinking about going up. He was so far behind my leg it wasn’t funny, and when your horse won’t go forward, it’s not fun.   I tried to work through it, but simply put, I wasn’t ready to escalate.  I told Christy of my trepidation, and we struck off at the trot.  It’s easier for me to ride assertively at the trot, if only because I have more forward momentum.   Christy had me ride Derby through some tight serpentines, to get his braced neck unlocked and to get more control over his hind legs.  I had to ride it but it worked well – I got him more forward and we did some quality work.   But I left the walk alone, doing breaks and cooling down on the buckle.

I went home and hit the books, which all reinforced what Christy had told me during the ride – that (among other things) I have to keep control over the hind legs, asking the horse to step under himself.   So I resolved to not tolerate the resistance, and to correct it when when it first appeared.

Tonight we had a better ride.  A couple times when Derby thought about throwing his head up, I spun him around, with a strong kick from my inside leg.  His resistance disappeared for the most part.  I got very good contact and he was enthusiastically forward, which was nice because Derby was evading the bit in addition to being behind my leg earlier in the week.  The ride was fun and afterward, Derby got lots of cookies!

This is my creation and my problem to fix.  I think we’re headed in the right direction.










About Sarah Skerik
Sarah Skerik is an experienced digital business executive and strategist with a long track record of success in team leadership, employee development, marketing and business development.

3 Responses to Moving forward … literally

  1. tbdancer says:

    If your “child” is like mine, cookies will do the trick. Eventually the urge to resist will be replaced by the thought of whatever you’re carrying in your pocket at the time ;o) I am assuming you checked his back after that first ride for any sign of soreness. I’m in the process of finding a saddle that fits me–the custom-in-name-only saddle I paid big bucks for fits the horse but is WAY too small for me (it measure 17″ and I need an 18″–I argued with the fitter for over a year about the saddle but lost the battle). Am enjoying reading your adventure in dressage.

  2. Sarah Skerik says:

    It would be great if cookies solved everything! I do try to use them as a reward – he gets one or two mints after the bit goes in, to wake up the salivary glands, but I reserve treats for after working. When we had really resistant rides, he got no cookies. Last night, after a pleasant ride, he got quite a few. And yes, I’ve checked his back (I’m obsessive about it, actually) and he’s fine.

    So sorry to hear about your custom saddle not fitting. I don’t 100% love the Isabel (really wish it had longer flaps) but I can’t argue with the balance. Something about that saddle really works for me. I’m kind of surprised that our personal geometry isn’t more important in the saddle selection equation. If you buy a nice road bike, you don’t just go to a shop and buy one off the rack. You can have a bike fitted – literally- to you, with adjustments to the frame – in terms of both length and angles. Why saddle fitting for the rider does’t employ some of that discipline is a bit of a mystery to me. Something can feel great when you’re sitting in it at the shop, and wildly different on the horse. And yours is not the first custom-saddle-not-working story I’ve heard. Anyway, best of luck to you in finding a saddle (and try one of the Isabel models! 🙂 )

  3. Net says:

    I just got fitted for a custom saddle last weekend – I’ve never been fitted for a saddle before, and have always just gone for what fits Tucson! With him outgrowing saddles every 8 months (approximately) spending more for a saddle which can really be adjusted and which also fits me seemed a good plan. It also means I’m not fighting for my position – when I was in the demo saddle to check fit I didn’t even try to sit right – I simply did. Thigh block position, flap length, seat firmness and size, pommel and cantle height are all custom to me. Tucson had a withers tracing, and of the 300-ish trees they picked the one most like his shape, plus some adjustments like how the billets come out, extra wide in back to account for the shape of his ribs though medium in front, etc.
    I didn’t buy a saddle based on brand, but based on the fitter. I find that there are many high quality saddles out there which don’t fit horses correctly, and finding a fitter whose clients’ horses all seem to have “happy backs” was the important thing to me. This saddle is a Dresch, but the fitter was the important part. 🙂

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