Bandit, Cowboy & bsms...muddling through together - Page 70 - The Horse Forum
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post #691 of 2027 Old 12-05-2016, 05:46 AM
Green Broke
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
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I also dislike most thigh blocks, and that is something I am happy with about my new saddle - it has blocks that velcro on so I can remove them if I wish. Something I don't like about most dressage saddles is that they often have such a deep seat and high cantle. What this means to me is that sometimes when the horse speeds up suddenly or starts trotting, the cantle might bump me forward if I am not prepared. I find this is more important on a rough gaited horse.

I've had Thorowgood saddles on my list of possibilities for awhile now. What I like about them is that they have good width between the panels, they are wool flocked so will conform better to the horse's back than the foam panels that are sometimes used, they are shorter for horses that are shorter backed, and they also make models for either wide backed, standard or high withered horses. They are also reasonably priced, and if you don't mind synthetic you can probably find a used one for around $200 on ebay. Just make sure it is the model you want since they do make broadback versions versus high wither versions.
I have never ridden in one myself, so am only going off good reviews online.

Thorowgood - Saddles specifically designed to fit different conformations
Here's a pic of the panels:


I've ridden in four different Wintec saddles. I liked one, which was an Isabell dressage saddle. The entire saddle was suede. I bought one like it that was synethic but not suede, and it didn't fit Amore and also the material made me stick, then slip, then stick again so it made my back sore. It also did not fit, but I didn't know much about saddle fitting then so assumed I could just stick the right gullet in. The third Wintec had CAIR and it was terrible to ride in but also didn't fit the horse - the owner liked it but she only walked. If you trotted, the horse would buck. The fourth Wintec I was indifferent to. It fit the horse and I didn't ride the horse very long or hard so I didn't notice anything terrible or great.
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post #692 of 2027 Old 12-07-2016, 07:57 PM Thread Starter
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My youngest got back from her 2-month trip overseas a few days back, and we had decent weather. So we took Bandit and Trooper out. Trooper had probably been ridden 3 times in the last 2+ months. Bandit has been ridden very little this last month or so, and that only in our little arena. So how'd they do?

In a word - great.

This is the day one trash company picks up the main trash, and the other one in our area picks up recycling - so every house had at least one trash can. Bandit obviously doesn't like them, but he never slowed down, not even for the ones with open mouths.

On 31 Oct, I wrote:

Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms View Post
...There was a truck and trailer parked beside the road in a place no one had parked before. That was pretty scary. I eventually led him up to it, but he got fussy when I was about to mount up, so I started leading him. 30 feet past, turn around, walk by until 30 feet past, turn around...maybe two dozen times, until he relaxed as I mounted up.

He was still on edge, and we went into the desert

...I will say that when we came back, Bandit walked past the truck and trailer without any extra urging. He didn't like it, but he stayed on the paved road and never slowed...
The trailer has remained a pretty disturbing sight, and this time there were dead plants in the back of it, so I told my daughter to be prepared to take the lead. The trailer was on the east side of the road. Bandit edged to the west side, off the pavement but between it and a 4" high "wall" of brick a neighbor had used to edge their yard. He still doesn't like it, but crowding the 4 inch edging was enough to keep him moving. Didn't step over the bricks once.

Trooper? He didn't care. I think he was pretty well content to have "his" rider back.

About 5 minutes into the desert, Bandit sighed, lowered his head to where it is in my avatar...and then stayed relaxed and willing the rest of the ride. It was all in an area he knows well, but he went past all the spots he gets sticky in without getting sticky. Gave the stink eye to one or two things, but he didn't slow. We spent over an hour walking the horses in the 200 acres of desert near us, going along washes, on trails and off them. Neither horse put a foot wrong or fussed...and it had been at least a month since Bandit had been in the desert.

Coming back, he passed the trailer without hesitation and barely glanced at it. Then the garbage truck turned the corner and headed toward us. They often zip by at 40 mph in a 25 zone, belching smoke. I didn't want to press my luck, so I dismounted.

This garbageman, however, slowed his truck and idled by as quietly as he could. I waved and shouted thanks. My daughter stayed on Trooper, and Bandit didn't even LOOK at the garbage truck. He was looking at our corral, where an excited Cowboy was running around and calling out in frustration at being left behind.

We were only 5 minutes from home, and I normally walk once an hour and was overdue, so I led Bandit the last 5 minutes, including the garbage truck passing us again.

One of the reasons I had considered taking a whip was to "unstick" him at the trailer. Glad I didn't, and haven't, because he is now accepting the trailer as a minimal threat. Would he have done so if I had whipped him to get him to go by? Or would that have cemented the idea that trailers are dangerous?

Don't know. But Bandit and Trooper were very well behaved for two horses who have been cooped up in a corral most of the last month. We even trotted them a little ways, side by side, and they didn't get too competitive.

It can be such an up/down, hot/cold thing with horses that I often miss signs of progress. And Bandit is making progress. If he is sometimes "silly" - well, HE doesn't think it is silly! FWIW, I tensed up at a couple of spots where I thought he might tense up...and he didn't follow 'my lead'. He stayed relaxed.

People talk about us needing to be "The Strong Leader". I suppose that works with some horses. Bandit is, however, an "Independent Horse" - a horse who makes up his own mind and who doesn't really care much about what other horses or humans think. He hasn't so much become calmer because I'm Superman, but because he is learning that a lot of things that used to scare him just do not merit fear. He has gained some respect for my opinion about how scary something is, but I don't think he'll ever become a "Whatever you say, Boss" horse. Don't really want him to, either. Paying attention to his fears is embarrassing in a land filled with stock horses who just obey, but maybe some embarrassment is the price I pay to have someone I ride with instead of on.

Still thinking about English saddles. I searched the Internet for a place that reflocks saddles. The closest I could find is about 3 hours away, and it is primarily a western saddle repair shop. I'm sure there is someone in Scottsdale that does it, but maybe it is word of mouth. Can you mail a saddle somewhere for reflocking? I realize that wouldn't give a custom fit, but it might be my best option. Not sure I want to buy English if getting it reflocked someday isn't a viable option.

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #693 of 2027 Old 12-07-2016, 08:26 PM
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I have to wonder if Bandit "notices" whether you are carrying a whip or not and also if he picks up on any tiny differences in your immediate persona when you do or do not.

If they are really the "Zen Masters" at reading a person I suspect he does. I have noticed anytime I have anything other than my normal being the ears go erect and the eyes widen a bit.
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post #694 of 2027 Old 12-07-2016, 09:05 PM Thread Starter
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Location: southern Arizona
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When I have a whip, it is draped over the horn. I don't think Bandit notices. I carried one for years with Mia and used it about 1/year to whip my own leg. She noticed immediately if I picked it up off the horn. I've never taken it off the horn when riding Bandit. It's a hunch, but I think using it once would take us about 6 months backwards...

I think my giving weight to his feelings is a crucial part of whatever trust we've built up. He may seem silly to me at times but I don't think he ever feels silly. Thus smacking him, or even my leg, would be an unjustified act of aggression.
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Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #695 of 2027 Old 12-08-2016, 12:30 PM
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BSMS glad to hear you had a good ride. What I read most from your posts is that it is important to "read" your horse. And I truly believe this. Bullying a horse rarely works in the long term.

Thank you for posting and being a thoughtful rider. It is interesting to see your perspective.
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post #696 of 2027 Old 12-08-2016, 03:25 PM
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We tried a Thorowgood saddle on K - it was the synthetic version of the Kent and Masters saddle and looked really well made so I was hoping it would work but she started getting antsy the moment it was on her and when ridden in it started broncing - which she doesn't do. We ended up buying the Kent and Masters leather saddle which looked identical and she went great in it to start with but this year was clearly not comfortable in that one either
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post #697 of 2027 Old 12-11-2016, 04:03 PM Thread Starter
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Bandit's best ride to date!

Got a ride in before church today. We've got grandkid duty all afternoon. My wife calls it "pleasure". "Duty" is about as nice a word as I would use. Since riding this afternoon (70s, sunny, no wind, perfect riding weather) may not happen...went early. Still was beautiful out!

Swapped out the TT I used recently due to a different thread for the O-ring snaffle.

We were solo because no one else wanted to ride. NO IDEA why not! Bandit had not been to the desert solo in ages, and only had one trip there in the last 4-5 weeks. So we went there solo today...just felt like the right thing.

When we got to the trailer by the road, he moved about 12 inches off the pavement on the other side and trotted past. He's half-Arabian, so if trotting helps his mind...it's his birthright. Once safely past, he walked.

Turned into the desert. He acted relaxed. Blew some snot and relaxed more. We took some zig-zags off the ATV trail. He was fine. When I turned him to the path that goes past the community water tank, I needed to direct rein for 5 seconds - then he said OK. He's not fond of that path, but he went.

Dropped into the wash solo for the first time. Only spent a few hundred yards in it, then climbed out. He was aware, but not nervous. Probably could have gone much farther - but I've decided I want to lay a SOLID base in calmness.

At a smooth part of the ATV trail, where it is really a dirt road, I asked him for a solo canter. He liked it. Built up some speed. The few times I've cantered him in the open, I've held him back. This time I gave a lot of slack and let him decide. When I said "Easy", he didn't drop to a trot. So I bumped the reins a couple of times, lightly, and he trotted. Said "easy" again, and he walked just before we hit the rocky spot.

I think that made sense to him. Going fast on rocks would hurt. Good call by his rider! So we did a walk-canter transition right after the rocks. As we approached another rocky spot, I said "Easy" - and he dropped to a trot, then a walk. So we detoured and avoided the rocks entirely.

When we came back into the neighborhood, he only moved about 2 feet off the center-line of the road when passing the trailer. He slowed, looked curiously at it for a moment, then strolled on by - all with plenty of slack.

He alerted at the sight of two people walking two dogs ahead of us. I thanked him, said I had it, it was no problem - and he went on fine. Finished up. Removed his bridle and he rubbed his head against my arm. Some say that is bad, but he and I have always done it, and I did it with Mia before him.

Solo ride. Past the trailer twice. Past the big community water tank. In the wash. Zig-zagged between cactus off trail. Cantered fast...ok, needed the reins for a moment to say slow down. Did it again and he responded to voice alone. No fuss. No problems. Whatever his faults may be...in seven years, I never had a relaxing solo ride in the desert with Mia! Not sure how Bandit could have been much better behaved!

Forecast is for a week of very nice weather. Let's hope we repeat this! A few rides like this and maybe BOTH of us will learn to relax and trust each other. He was wonderful!

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #698 of 2027 Old 12-12-2016, 02:20 PM
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It brought a smile to my face reading about your best ride to date with Bandit. You're starting to trust him more and he's responding to you. It's such a good feeling when you can give them a bit of rein - even at speed - and you know that the communication is still there.

I had a similar ride with Macarena on Saturday. I came back feeling on top of the world. We reached a spot where she would have preferred to turn for home, and she said so. I said let's go a bit further. We discussed it amicably and we continued. We cantered in some big unploughed fields. We SPED. Then we turned for home and she trotted - TROTTED - on a loose rein with her head low .... towards home. I was amazed. And very pleased.

We met the herd of sheep on the way home. Had to go off the track into the field so as not to be engulfed. Macarena was mildly interested but not bothered in the least. I even managed to take a photo.

But then shortly after the sheep we spotted one of the sheep dogs lurking on top of a high bank - a menacing black silhouette at eye level - and she said 'let's get the hell out of here!' And we did. All the way home. But she was listening, and it was a joint decision (more her's than mine but whatever) so it was ok.
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post #699 of 2027 Old 12-12-2016, 03:39 PM Thread Starter
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Love the picture and hearing of your ride with Macarena. I'd so love to be able to take Bandit to the ranch in Utah someday and do some 'herding' with him. Riding him in a place and situation like this will probably remain a fantasy...but it isn't all wrong to dream:



Note: if you click on the picture, it enlarges.

Speed is tough for me. If Mia built up speed, it was always very hard to slow/stop her. It wasn't her fault. Her breeding and our limited environment created a problem that neither of us could really solve. We did enough bolts and enough "Must keep running!" episodes that I find tough to trust a horse to keep his mind and balance.

Meeting me has enabled Bandit to start using his left front leg correctly and to start giving up his fear. Meeting Bandit is - equally slowly - enabling me to ride less defensively...and to start giving up MY fear.

Odd as it sounds, I think some of our best times come when I'm cleaning the corral. He'll follow me, looking for attention, scratches & rubs. I try to keep him from tipping over the wheelbarrow of poop...and give him attention, scratches and rubs. I guess I shouldn't blame him for needing a long time to give up HIS fears, when I'm still working on giving up my own. Guess I'm glad he doesn't try to whip the fear out of me...

Riders ask "How?" Horsemen ask "Why?"
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post #700 of 2027 Old 12-12-2016, 04:25 PM
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Your riding post made me smile. I have owned Tillie since mid Aug and have only cantered a few strides once. Leaving it for a time when she trusts me more.

Everyone needs a relaxing solo ride occasionally
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