The Long Update: everything that's happened I the last five+ weeks
This is going to be a bit long, as spring happened and suddenly, since the road cleared my world got a whole lot bigger. To start I suppose we have that I went home for spring break and we put my dog down. That was heartbreaking. She's been an incredible family member for the last nine years and we are missing her so much. She had lung cancer and she showed no signs of slowing down until a month before "It was time" She had the best disposition, the best personality and in a family of introverts she was the one extrovert that brought us together. We had gotten her from the pound several years ago after my lease horse died and from day 1 she was "one of the pack". Saying goodbye sucks. and there's some cruel twist of fate that says of all the animals the most empathetic and the kindest should only get ten years. I won't dwell since I might still cry.
Two major things have happened: 1. we have a saddle and 2. we went to a clinic. All in the same weekend to boot.
It happened like this- a Facebook post went up for a trainer I'd ridden with once that she was looking for demo riders for an R judge training. I said I'd bring Pony, and I figured I'd just pad up my jumping saddle and call it good enough. Well I thought about it- and I hate my jumping saddle for anything but two-point, so I called the saddle fitter out of helena to see if he could fit us in on Friday. He could. So Friday morning I skipped class and hooked up the trailer to drive pony 1.5hrs for a saddle fitting. We left a little later than intended since apparently the fence went down between two pastures the night before and suddenly Nick was way out about a .5 mile walk and not so keen to be caught. But I did get him in, and thanks to the clicker training we'd been doing and the 20+ hours of work we'd put into it- Nick loaded in five minutes flat and we headed down the road. my trailer is a single horse straight load, so the fact that anything in their right mind gets in is a miracle. I tie up his tail and blanket him to travel since it's rather open and no day is warm at 60mph. If I don't bandage his tail it streaks out behind us going down the highway....
Well we get there safe and sound unload and the fitter looks at pony and looks at the saddle and says "he can't be that round" then he goes and gets his traces and finds that YES INDEED this Here IS a barrel with legs and the tree needs to be widened.
If you've never seen a tree being widened it's very very cool. Basically he took the pannels off and put the saddle in a clamp like the kind you see in a woodshop. The clamp applies pressure on the gullet plate and it deforms and "flattens". When he had it as wide as it would go that way-he took a mallet to it and gave the "wings" of the gullet plate some good whacks until it resembled a shape much more like the shoulder of my pony and less like the roof of a house. After it fit the tracing he had done of the back he sewed the panels back on and we tried it on pony. He added more flocking to the middle to reduce the bridging, but truly the thing probably needs a complete reflocking. But it fit his shoulders, I could ride with a bridge pad and pony once again had tack that fit. We loaded up and went home. The next day we'd agreed to demo ride, so I packed us both a lunch: him hay- and me fruit snacks and boiled eggs and we hitched up again and headed off. Get to the barn unload. settle him into is hay and find out im also slated to ride a double lesson at 1:45. Cool I haven't had a lesson in over a year and this is the first time I had ridden in the saddle in about 6 months. It definitely felt weird.
So arriving the barn was super hushed and kinda uptight and I kept thinking "if it's like this all the time I don't think I can see lessoning here again." Turns out when I got on to ride my lesson with who I assume was the trainer I'd ridden with once before, I was wrong. Nope, I was riding a clinic with an S judge. I shared the lesson with a lady looking to ride Training and First. It was okay. but I was 15 minutes late because they'd given the clinician the ride time of 1:30 and me the ride time of 1:45. And truthfully we didn't work on anything groundbreaking. We just kinda puttered around the arena and did some training and first level stuff. Mostly leg yield honestly. So as a lesson it was disappointing, as an experience for Pony who hadn't been anywhere "high stress" before- it was very good. I was pleased to say he handled it like a champ and rode about the same as he usually did with some inconsistency I think that had to do with having a saddle and having a confused and nervous rider. But he had nice canter to stops and walks- since we got a little bored with what was going on in the lesson. Mind you we still did what we were told- just with a little "extra" Then later that afternoon we demo ride, got lost twice since I didn't know the test well and loaded up and went home. I was a bit exhausted and went to bed at 8. Its worth noting hauling your tiny horse in your tiny trailer is extremely stressful. He was so good, but that's the love of my life back there.
Since then we have been schooling quite a bit more intensely, working on really getting good at counter canter which we kinda ignored this winter in the crowded arena with frozen footing. We got a few NICE lead changes the kind that result, from a cue and not his decision that counter canter isn't fun. His laterals continue to improve and at some point sometime I think they will be super nice. We've also been doing a lot more +R / clicker training to really good results. I like how it makes him really want to work. And because if he's not learning something he's bored- we started to do liberty work with the clicker which is pretty fun. It's not any different from any other training, just teaching them how to respond to cues that don't involve a bridle or halter. I also want to teach him the bow but I have not started it yet. I have taught a horse to bow before, and they can get a little nervous, so I think it's best to go slow and really work on the foundation and the things he enjoys so that the slightly frightening stuff can be approached with confidence.
Beyond that- I have an engineering internship about .25 miles from my house and I start Monday. so that's exciting.. Tomorrow I may take Nick riding up in the Highlands.
1. Sparrow. our beautiful dog
2. Nick at the fitters
3. The fitter widening the saddle
. miscellaneous pony pictures.
"Stay ON the horse IN the arena" -my trainer.
Last edited by lostastirrup; 05-04-2019 at 01:21 PM.