Sunday, July 03, 2011

Easily Swayed

Cathi (who owns our barn) has mentioned a few times this particular type of pad that she got and loooves and highly, highly recommends. But I must admit that I am not the sort of person who has a very easy time lending much weight to other people's opinions of things they have purchased. I think this is because I have sort of an inborn anti-reaction to any kind of advertising. For instance, say I am in a store and I am going to buy something and I must choose between two brands. If the only thing I am aware of to differentiate the two products is that I have seen an ad for one and not the other, I will buy the product I haven't seen advertised.

This is because I find advertising and hype offensive on a fundamental level. I make my consumer choices based on fact, multiple unbiased reviews, price, and other such weigh-able variables-- not glitz, graphics and attractive models, or 'this changed my life' type testimonials, thank you very much.

So whenever someone starts gushing to me about this awesome new thing they bought and love, I am immediately suspicious. But, Cathi showed me where she keeps the fabulous pad, and told me to try it out whenever I wanted. She said to just put it between my normal pad and my saddle and see what I think. So today, I did.

I can't say it miraculously transformed my horse into a well-trained, rational creature. I can say that I think it had a positive effect on our overall ride. Steen stood perfectly still while I mounted and picked up my stirrups. This was a bit of a relief to me, since he has been a tad shifty since I got the new saddle. Then we started out with the ride and the first 10 minutes Steen was wonderful. He was walking and trotting along with his head down, his entire aura one of relaxed, collected, attentive contentment.

But, Steen is kind of spoiled these days and after a short time started getting preoccupied with the idea that it was probably time to stop. He communicated this opinion by attempting to veer towards the herd and then, when I turned him the other direction, picking up the trot. So I pushed him into a lope and we ran around for a while. The lope was nice, but he was  being a pain about the turns. We loped and loped and loped and he got pretty tired and was settling in.

So I let him stop. Then we stood for a while, and when I asked him to move around again he didn't want to. When I made him he launched himself into full riled-up Steen mode. So I decided I was just going to make him trot in one big circle until he gave me a consistent trot and nice turns.

Twenty minutes later, we had made some reasonable progress, so I asked Steen for a walk. He complied eagerly, but then wanted to stop entirely. When I wouldn't let him, it was back into his defiant trot. So we trotted our circle for quite a while longer.

In the end, he was coming around. We finally achieved a few circles at the walk. In spite of his antics, Steen was moving very nicely. I think all his issues were in his head. Still, at one point towards the end someone in the neighborhood either set off a firecracker or did something very loud with some massive machinery. Steen heard it and spring-loaded himself to bolt. I had enough time to shorten my reins before he... didn't go anywhere. I could actually see him decide not to spook. Which for my silly, emotional Steen is a pretty big deal. I was proud of him.

In the meantime Brian was spending some time trying to convince Bear that corn is not scary. They were mostly successful at this, but at times Bear was pretty suspicious of the tall green stuff.

Finally, we dismounted and headed indoors and I pulled the saddle. A perfectly even sweat pattern met my eyes. And Steen wasn't even that sweaty. So, while I am pretty sure the new saddle isn't causing Steen any pain or problems, if I can obtain an even sweat pattern so easily, I can't think of a reason not to. So, I might be buying an Ultra Thin-Line pad of my own.

Horseback hours YTD: 41:45

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