Thursday, June 23, 2011

Another Try

Today Brian and I headed to the barn armed with yet another saddle:

This is a Cashel trail saddle. It's build on an axis tree that has a reputation for leaving a horse free at the shoulders and fitting a pretty wide variety of backs.

Plus it's just a pretty saddle. :)

It was a rather cool day here in Iowa, and we found the horses both inclined to fidget and be restless during grooming. Steen was actually pretty horrible about standing for the first time in months, until I finally got annoyed and got on his case a little. Then, apparently taking the reprimand to heart, he was content to doze while I finished grooming and tacking.

We've also had a lot of rain, so the ground is a bit soggy. Steen was happy to stand while I mounted, then dismounted to adjust the stirrups, then mounted again. But the ride that followed was highly mediocre. Steen was distracted and goey, but he was turning really nicely, his downward transitions were better than usual, and when I could get him to settle and pay attention, he treated me to the uberjog. But when he wasn't settled he just felt spring-loaded. Every time we turned a corner and pointed up the strip, he told me in every way he knows how that he wanted to run.

Naturally, I did not let him do this. Between the slippery ground, the new saddle and his high-energy, I was feeling a bit wimpy and inclined to keep the pace slow. We had some seriously long trotting sessions, during which his pace was erratic depending on which direction we were going, and sometimes very fast. I concentrated on giving him his head unless he actively started to shift into the lope in hopes that he would slow himself down. When I finally asked him to stop, he was good about flexing, and standing.

Towards the end of the ride I was working him in small circles and I felt like he finally focused, at which point he started stretching his neck, dropping his head and lifting his back. I rode him for a bit longer and things stayed pretty good. Then I thought I'd take him inside and lope him, but when we got to the indoor arena I discovered it was occupied by a trainer on one of her horses, and her daughter on a pony. So I just pulled the saddle and called it a day.

It was too cool for sweat patterns, but I worked Steen hard enough to get him pretty warn. I poked and prodded around on his back while he yawned and dozed off and did not react in any way. There were no ruffled patches of hair or anything else to indicate rubbing or shifting. Still I think it's impossible to say for sure whether the saddle fits or not. For my part, I found it quite comfortable, and pretty much exactly what I want. It looks like it sits nicely on him, both with and without the pad, so I'm hopeful his antics today were just a results of his high spirits and the cool weather.

Horseback hours YTD: 37:45

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