Tack issues are of the devil, basically. Want the good news or the bad news first?
BG took to her crupper well. I got two new saddle pads: one pink and one purple.
Firstly, my sheepskin half pad is about to fall apart. It won't survive next season I bet. I need to get a new one, but a new Mattes is $200. I'm looking into a ThinLine. I can get one from 100-125 on Ebay.
Secondly, my saddle just doesn't work for Kitty. I generally ride her bareback, but I'm trying to start some serious training with her. Every time I've put a saddle on her, she's gotten girth rubs. My Specialized, which works great for BG, just isn't rigged right for Kitty. Kitty's girth groove is very forward, and her belly slants towards her armpits. The girth works it way forward until it rubs her. No amount of saddle fit adjustment or variation of girth type helps. BG also has a long, straight back. Kitty's back is short and has a lot of rock to it. Specialized saddles are adjustable, but they have limitations.
I suppose I'm in the saddle market again. Something center fire or 3/4 rigged. I'm looking into Big Horn saddles, because they're fairly cheap (around $300 used), light, and easily available. I'm not going to spend more than $500 on a saddle. So something good and used is what I'm seeking out.
Have you thought about an Aussie?
I have a "Kimberly Synthetic Endurance" from Downunder Saddlery that has fit every Arab [only 3, but still - it was too wide for one of them, but it's a "wide"...the angles were perfect] I've put it on. They all had the typical Arab back, like you're seeing on Kitty. :)
It has a dressage-style girth situation and has never rubbed Lacey...and Lacey is a queen of rubs too!
Other bonus: I got a "second market" one [it has a small scratch in the seat...nothing bad - Kimberly has their "seconds" for sale on their website] for $215-ish but, I believe, they're under $300 new.
Anyway, that might be something to look into.
I used to have a Big Horn for Lacey and, as far as western saddles go, it fit her ok...but the shape just wasn't quite right [too straight through the back]. Even the Arab-tree one wasn't really right. The rock on the Arab-tree was better but it was REALLY narrow.
And 1. LOVE the gif.
2. Yay for BG liking her crupper! Cruppers are my favorite. I ride Lacey in one and now, whenever I ride in a saddle without one...it feels so naked!
Courtney was in town today, so we went off and rode for an hour between lessons. I already had BG tacked up; I practiced sidepassing toward me and bridleless stopping/backing/steering earlier and just left her tied to a tree for later use.
See, pretty purple saddle pad.
I grabbed Kitty from the pasture and rode bareback. I couldn't even put on a bareback pad because of her raw, hot girth rubs. So Courtney and I went out to play. We screwed around on the over grown jumping course. Courtney took BG over a few jumps, and told me to try Kitty. I've never jumped Kitty under saddle. But whatever. So here, captured on film, is Kitty's first undersaddle (errr, bareback) jump:
Afterwards, Courtney galloped off without any warning. I was just chilling my reins slack, and Kitty went from zero to 20 in no time. I regained my reins, but not before Kitty began bucking and crow hopped. She hopped impressively hard, and left me clinging beneath her neck like a sloth hugging a branch. Noticing my predicament, she stopped and allowed to hang awkwardly (as I laughed) for a few moments before I dropped to the ground at her feet. Possibly my favorite fall ever.
Because of this, a new technique for bareback mounting came into play: the neck mount. This was my first time trying this, and it was so awkward.
It's a Lovatt and Ricketts. It's probably an AP, and but it may be an older dressage saddle. It looks to be in decent shape -- in the very least useable. Lovatt and Ricketts makes saddles that fit Arabians famously, so I'm vaguely hoping it will fit Kitty. (Praying it isn't too narrow! The seller had no idea what size tree it had.) And if it doesn't fit her... I need a catch ride saddle. Something I can just throw on any horse I'm training. Since I sold my old Wintec, I've been in an awkward spot of borrowing saddles.
Can anyone eyeball how wide they think this sucker is?
Secondly, I acquired a saddle. I texted Catheryn last night about my woes regarding Kitty tack troubles. How my Specialized wasn't working, rubbing her, etc. Catheryn said she always rode Kitty in a Specialized; it was the only thing that didn't rub her. She still had the saddle -- a very nice, almost new Trail Master, custom fitted to Kitty -- and offered to sell it to me for 1600 bucks. I absolutely didn't have that sort of money and refused. Catheryn promised to keep an eye out for saddles that may work for me.
The next afternoon, around lunch, I received another text from Catheryn. She sent me a picture of her Trail Master, molded and disused in her horse trailer, and told me I was welcome to come get it.
I was all, "What now? OHMYGOSHYES."
So I scurried over to Catheryn's after work, unsure of the conditions that would come with this saddle. I hoped it made it clear enough that I absolutely did not have enough money to buy it.
Catheryn was trimming her goats hooves in the barns. A black and white goat stood tied to a milking stand as Catheryn worked on her feet. I assisted Catheryn in catching and trimming two more goats before I cared to ask what was going on. Because being with Catheryn is like being caught in a whirlwind and the island of the lotus eaters at the same time. Together, we fed some chickens, visited with some newly hatched ducklings in the brooder, and admired Catheryn's baby Friesians who were finally outgrowing their awkward stage. Catheryn all the time chatted about riding her horse Possum for the first time in year that morning, a new brood of Swedish flower hens on the way, a recipe for lavender scented goat milk soap...
Actual discussion of the saddle was shocking in its brevity. She clambered into her dark horse trailer. The air smelled humid and stale and rushed out at me like a gust of August wind. Hadn't been opened in a while, I suppose. Catheryn trudged back out carrying a pretty black saddle covered in patches of greenish mold.
I put the saddle in my front seat, and as I drove away, Catheryn yelled, smiling, "You just have to return it eventually. Last thing I gave you that you promised to return I never got back!"
"You," I grinned back, "are awesome, you know that?"
I shouldn't be journaling; I have a lot of stuff to pack and it's 9:00 at night. We're leaving to King's Mountain CTR quick-as-we-can tomorrow, and the boss demands I have everything in the trailer, sans myself and my horse, tonight. So I really shouldn't be journaling, because I also have a paper to finish writing for English class (due tomorrow -- my sister will hand it in) and I need to clean my aquarium and...
But I'm just going to write a little anyway. My worry about sending BG off comes and goes in waves... Monday I was okay; Tuesday I was ready to call it off. Wednesday I said to myself, "It's only a month." Thursday... "Holy crap, an entire month."
I said "see you later" to BG yesterday. I was in the barn packing my tack into my large black storage box, and it maybe 9:30 pm. The barn was an island of light complete darkness of the surrounding pastures. Of course, you can't tell they're pastures on moonless nights; the landscape looks like a placid black ocean. (And staying at the barn at night always makes me feel like a fish in a bowl.)
I'm terrified of the dark.
But I had a bizarre itching to go out there and visit the far pasture where Kitty and BG live. It's a huge pasture, but maybe I could catch a glimpse of their pale colors in the starlight of they happened to be close enough. I drove my truck and parked parallel to the gate, bright lights on and doors locked. Locked why? The dark. I'm afraid of the dark. Illogically afraid of what may blend in with the darkness.
There is a lean-to shed about 100 feet from the fence line. Inside are four pipe corral panel stalls. BG paced back and forth inside one. Someone forgot to let her out after feeding her that night.
Kitty and her pasture mates stood grazing close by. I could only see dark coated Gizmo and Cinnamon when they flicked their tails or ambled forward. Kitty was brightly visible, ghostly pale as she is.
I shut off the truck (no lights anymore) and felt my way through the darkness toward BG. I opened the door and closed myself inside the pipe stall with her. I sat on the top rail. (I wasn't ready to run back to my truck yet.)
BG sidepassed over and offered me a chance to climb onto her back. When am I going to get another chance to ride like this? I thought. I clamored on and opened the gate. BG walked with purpose, ignoring my sitting on her, and the rest of the herd followed. A five minute walk led us to a low, grassy section of pasture. BG stopped and grazed. The others did so as well.
I sat quietly on BG and observed. My eyes grew accustomed to the darkness and realized the dark was not complete. The light's of four cities on four sides of me filtered into the night sky. The only stars were directly above me, but if I stood on Baby Girl's back I might have touched them.
I felt like I was glimpsing into a secret life. The herd stood together, and I sat on BG's back and listed to my horses breathe. BG bent her head around occasionally and sniffed my foot, as if to check on me. ("Still there, human? We finally get to do something together that I think is fun.")
I realized after a long time I was going to be late getting home. I asked BG to walk me back up to my truck. She ambled up the hill towards the beacon of light that was the barn. Kitty followed at her hip, like I was ponying her. I wondered what it was like to gallop without any tack at all. I tried it.
BG shot off at a run. The cold air and the swirling darkness blinded me, and all I could see were flashes of white light. I clutched a handful of BG's mane so tightly my nails made half moons on my palms. I opened my eyes and saw Kitty keeping pace at my shoulder as we sprinted in the darkness.
BG stopped at the fence and allowed me to dismount. Good night, and thanks for the ride.
King's Mountain 2012 broke my heart. Baby Girl did not stand still for a moment. It took three people to vet check her -- one on either side plus me, clinching her halter with a white knuckle grip. She pranced for 50 miles. She screamed and spun on the high line. She reared in frustration at every obstacle. I cried. I screamed. I wanted to sell her, but nobody wanted the crazy mare. I would have shot her, but I couldn't dig a hole deep enough.
With my first two options unattainable, I went home and worked. And there was a wild back there when things weren't going so well. I was working so hard and not seeing any results...
It's taken me a year to get to King's Mountain 2013. We put one foot in front of another all year, Baby Girl and I... And I looked back, sitting around the campfire minutes before the beginning of awards, and realized that, with that one-foot-in-front-of-another, inch-by-inch, I-believe-in-the-improbable attitude... We climbed a mountain and won a battle.
It was a special ride. A perfect ride. BG threw a shoe 10 miles into our first day, and resulting tenderness killed any chances of sweepstakes... But we put in a solid ride. Perfect metabolics. Amazing, clean, beautiful obstacles. Sometimes you lose a shoe. What are the chances, and what can you do about it? Chances giveth and chances taketh away. Spilled milk, basically. I felt like a winner. I felt like my horse was, is, better than anyone else's.
Since this was the last ride of the year, they called off the names of Region Five's official 2013 national champions. I stood up when they called BG's name. I stood up with the owners of legendary NATRC horses, and I felt like I was on my way.
That was the day we became national champions.
This was my last ride in the junior division. This was my last year before I move on to college. This may be my last big campaign, come to an end. Or maybe not. You never know what's around the corner. It could be nothing, or it could be everything.
I haven't worked with Motion thus far. He arrived Sunday night, and I put him in the round pen with some hay and water, within sight and smell of the herd which he will be living with for the next few weeks. The boss has expressed (and continues to express) her animosity towards him. It does not help that his show name is "Loco Motion," and he has a bad reputation for said "loco" factor. It isn't a secret; Sarah even recognizes he has some issues. The boss observed with disgust as Sarah wrestled Motion into our trailer, and I worried on the way about how I was going to safety get him out of the trailer.
Well, he backed off the trailer like a bullet from a gun and landed in a heap on the grass. He rose, shivering, and pushed his shoulder into me.
So began Jackie Law. I took the end of that lead rope and, with a loud "NO SIR", struck him on the shoulder. He leapt (two feet in the air at least) and planted his feet. He continued to shiver with excitement, but I could see he was making an effort. I had his attention.
I had to whack him in the chest twice more as I walked him to his paddock. He wanted to rush the gate, but he restrained himself and walked cautiously and quietly. I let him go and left him alone until the next afternoon.
Our first feeding session was interesting. I was warned he was food aggressive, so I entered the paddock with a lunge whip and a bucket of grain. He flattened his ears and tried to move me off his feed. I came down on him with that lunge whip. He retreated to the other end of the paddock. I stood over "my" grain. If he approached, I ran him off. Eventually, I walked away and let him have my "leftovers."
The next day, I turned him out with the herd -- Kitty, Gizmo, and Cinny. Sarah primarily wanted Motion to come live with me to help with his socialization issues. He has always been the dominate horse. No one moved him. He has a history of aggression, especially towards geldings. I expected him to gain dominance over Gizmo's mares, but, to my great joy, Gizmo kicked Motion's little black ass all over the pasture.
Kitty and Cinny move Motion as well. He eats last; he drinks last. He follows where the others lead and says far out of Gizmo's way, least he be chased away.
I feel a little bad for Motion. His world has been turned upside down. But horses fix other horses way better than people fix horses. The herd is the most natural part of horse life, and Motion needs to learn to be a part of one. Hopefully things will settle down in the next few days and Gizmo will allow Motion closer (but not too close) to his mares.
We did give Motion an ally today. Willa, a two-year-old black filly who could be his daughter. She still moves him, but at least she's nice to him as well.