Saturday, June 11, 2011

Borrowing the Bear Trap

The whole saddle debacle has taken the wind out of my sails a bit, but yesterday Brian came home from work and coaxed me out to the barn. He wanted to spend a day working on groundwork anyway, due to Bear's swollen ankles, so he offered me a the use of his saddle.

I've only ridden Steen in the bear trap twice before, and he did really well both times, but in neither instance did I ride him hard enough to get a real sweat pattern to look at. Since we're now back to saddle shopping, a logical place to start seemed to try to determine if the bear trap fits Steen or not. So we headed out and tacked up. Steen was not at all worried about the different saddle on his back.

We went to the strip and I climbed on. Steen stood perfectly while I mounted and continued to stand quietly until I asked him to walk. He then walked around just fine. For my part, the saddle felt pretty darn good. I did feel much taller and further above Steen's back than I'm used to after my many months of going mostly bareback, but it actually felt great to have a nice cantle behind me and a balanced seat to sit in. I rode around and Steen was very responsive at the walk and trot. I actually neck-reined almost entirely for the early part of the ride and Steen was more than willing to respond to my leg and seat cues most of the time.

Then after we worked at the trot for a while, I asked him to walk and he did, but then he wanted to stand around and when I urged him forward he started with his typical little "pick up the trot" routine. So instead of making him stop, I just pushed him into the lope. He was really surprised at first, but not unwilling. We loped around and around on the strip. He still has a tendency to want to dig into the turns instead of bend through them, but other than that he felt pretty balanced and controlled. We loped for quite a while and it felt great. He was a less controlled going right than left, but by no means bad in either direction.

it was dim and cloudy so the little camera didn't get any great shots, but Brian put in a gallant effort

I stopped him and let him stand for a moment and then after that all he wanted to do was either stand or go. *sigh. I worked on trotting him in small circles until he calmed down a bit, which only took a few minutes. Then it started to rain. Hoping it would pass, we kept trotting and working on transitioning down to the walk. I had finally had him settled and willing to walk again when the rain really picked up, so we moved inside where I got back on and loped some more. After loping in both directions I got him to trot, then walk using only verbal queues.

By the time I got off, Steen was tired but he also seemed pretty happy and proud of himself. I do think he likes to lope. He never resists picking it up at all and in the indoor I was able to just give him his head and let him try to feel his balance himself. By the end he was bending more and digging in less and going at a fast but smooth pace. I hopped off and untacked and looked for dry spots. The results were inconclusive. He was dryer on his shoulders, but not in one little area like when a saddle is really pinching. It was more like he had three or four small semi-dry patches that were overlapping somewhat but all still a little sweaty. And he hadn't actually sweated as much as I'd hoped, so there is a decent chance these would have disappeared if I'd gone on riding for longer.

So, I guess I didn't answer a whole lot of questions, but I did have a whole lot of fun. I guess I'll have to borrow Brian's saddle a few more times. :)

Horseback hours YTD: 35:25


  1. Not sure if you're still thinking of going treeless, but was talking to someone at my barn who uses a Torsion Treeless Endurance saddle and loves it. It does not seem to suffer any of your complaints about the Bob Marshall, but I haven't actually ridden in one myself.

    Also, we haven't been entirely happy with the Aussie we bought for Trekker awhile back. If you think that might be worth trying, maybe we can work something out?

  2. Thanks Erica. I am not sure I'm going to continue to go down the treeless road. I have a line on a treed saddle that sounds like it might work. I'm going to be trying one out before too long.

    If that doesn't fit I will be open to pursuing other options, including, perhaps, your Aussie. :)

  3. Cool, just let me know. Hope you find something that works eventually. :)


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