Orange you glad
September 5, 2013 2 Comments
It’s been ages since my last update, and I really wish I had more earth-shattering news to share. The last few months have been frustrating and enlightening, to say the least. I’ve been struggling a lot in the saddle, overcoming that knee problem and building strength.
By accident I now also have a very specific understanding of and appreciation for saddle balance.
My Albion K2 became uncomfortable for my sore knee, as the knee blocks really put pressure and I think some torque on that leg. So I switched back to my old Wintec, with no blocks. The flaps are completely flat. My ouchy leg is happier in that saddle.
However, though it looked OK, the Wintec was too wide for Derby. His disapproval was subtle at first – he refused to go forward. And I was struggling like crazy to organize myself, much less him, in that saddle.
In retrospect, I should have spotted a big red flag when I rode Manny and Tucker in that saddle. On them, in that saddle, I rode well. Christy and I have concluded that it was a matter of saddle balance. We monkeyed with shims and gullets, and the difference is night and day. I had been feeling like I was fighting every moment to maintain my position while on Derby in the too-wide saddle. Now that I’ve reinstalled the narrow gullet, it’s much easier for me to just ride.
However, my problems (unfortunately) do not start and end with the saddle. Far from it.
Christy is working me through some issues with my position – in particular, getting me to stop pinching my knees. She demonstrated memorably for me a few days ago how a rider’s pinchy knee affects the horse. She was on Remy, and we were chatting about different aspects of rider position. She was moving around, demonstrating the different effects her biomechanics had on the horse. When she pinched her knee, Remy’s back dropped. He flung his head up and became hollow. Which is how Derby has been going around, apparently because that’s how I’ve been riding him.
When I mounted up, the first thing I did was to fluff my knees away from the saddle. Immediately this helped me wrap my calves around the horse, and as soon as I did it, Derby started to stretch and round. All righty then. Horse approves.
At the trot it’s still a challenge for me to maintain. I’m using entirely new muscles. It feels better and I have a more forward horse. Now I just need to build my endurance and make this new position my habit. Unfortunately, this part is a bit of a slog! But what’s the saying? Can’t go over it, can’t go under it, can’t go around it — gotta go through it. Or something like that.