I Hope This Lasts
August 25, 2015 3 Comments
I had another forward, frisky and fun ride on Freddie last night, which I improved midway through with the addition of a Thinline pad to lift the saddle further off his shoulders. He was raring to go, and again, I had to concentrate in order to get my half-halts working, but overall I am thrilled with my new-found Fred. We did a bit of canter while wearing the Thinline that felt amazing, and for the first time, I felt a horse lift and use his back in the canter, getting the “bouncy ball” feeling I have heard others describe. It was pretty wonderful!
I hope this lasts!
I’m not done tweaking the saddle, however. Some fine-tuning is in order. Tonight I am going to put the 8mm front and middle risers in the saddle, and the 4″mm rear shims (hopefully to keep it balanced.) Freddie still feels sticky bending (though much improved) and I have a hunch that he could use even more rooom in the shoulder. The risers will help lift the fixed parts of the saddle away from this shoulder. I’m also going to adjust my billets backwards a little, and dig out my anatomical girth. I think it will be too short, but I have some extenders somewhere.
It’s a pain in the neck going through all the endless combinations, but the fine tuning is worth it – when you get the right fit, the difference in the horse is amazing. The caveat is that you have to be ready to do it all again soon if you have an unfit horse and the luxury of adjustable tack. As Fred’s back changes with work, I will very likely need to make future fixes to keep him comfy. But that is the whole point, in my mind, of having an inventory of pads, gullets and shims.
The trick is in paying attention so I don’t miss the signals when he tells me it’s time for another change.
The difference in Freddie’s way of going is night and day, and I can see it in his demeanor as well as his movement. For example, I’ve already learned that when he’s happier, his big ears flop and twirl. I’m in danger of developing the bad habit of staring fixedly at my horse’s ears, but they are so entertaining – one will be spinning, while the other sticks out at a right angle for a while, and they they both go into motion at once. As goofy as they are, Fred’s ears are an important signal. When they stop twirling, I know something’s up.
Another signal is his mouth. Last night, Freddie was dripping white foam, which I took as powerful affirmation. He developed foam in short order Sunday too, despite the fleeting duration of our ride.
During earlier, more uncomfortable rides, the foam has been scant. So Fred is clearly able to communicate with his mouth, too.
It feels like I’m getting pretty close on the saddle fitting challenge, and am putting some of the getting-to-know-you pieces together, and laying the foundation for a good relationship with Freddie. I hope he’s as pleased with me as I am with him!