Monday, October 16, 2017

4 to Go

Before we got to the work side of things last Tuesday Prophecy was his silly self exploring all aspects of my helmet with his mouth while I sat on the block ... Yawning upon his satisfaction it was not a toy or something to worry about.

He's got my camera mount!

and now yanking on the visor!
Sometimes life moves fast! I went from having no saddles to work with, to one brand and 2 styles of it, to 4 rather quickly!

The trial of four saddles...

1. The Boz - We started earlier this month with an all leather 1994 model for a week that gave me hope it was what Prophecy could use, so we borrowed a 2010 fleece seat version that I could hold onto longer.  One good short trial of that and then we steadily went downhill in his comfort in each subsequent ride. The last attempt, Tuesday eve, I adjusted the panels wider instead of touching at the center, and moved the saddle back off his shoulders (against Boz's 'design' but per other users with wide horses recommendations). Result: a very unhappy Prophecy still (saddle now looked borderline too long for his back and still felt tight at the tree points). I hopped off, removed the saddle, told him I heard him and put it up on the top rail of the pen, and decided to play with him on mounting for bareback from the block. We made a good bit of progress on that ; he started out leery of me just draping an arm over his back from above. Eventually we ended with him allowing my right leg to be resting on him behind his withers while the left leg was still on the block.  This is something we will continue to work on.

The Boz was returned to its owner (today in fact) - but I must say that it is a comfortable saddle (especially fleece seated version) and the forward stirrup position isn't that odd a feeling, nor did it tweak my knees or feel too wide a twist. As for other folks I think it is a saddle worth trying if you can, just didn't work for us in the end. Every horse, and rider, is different!

When I brought him in to start with I noticed he was crusty with sweat in spots from how humid it was out during the day and his thicker coat starting to grow in already, so I gave him a much enjoyed hose down after ; which I admit was also an attempt to "wash away" the bad saddle feelings.

I guess because I see him so often I don't see the change as much, but I've been told he is looking fitter 👍  I'm sure the pasture he's living in now is helping with that. He still has a grazing muzzle on since our weather is bouncing a bit and I don't want to take any chances with a reaction to the grass after being muzzled so long.  I am really hoping to remove it soon!

2. Leon Liversage Enduro Light - Wide tree: arrived Tuesday. I have to say it is gorgeous, and light!  I had to take it home to work on setting up the stirrups - which had me confused and reaching out to Lori (USA saddle rep) to help!

I finally got it figured out and brought it out to try on him Friday evening. First, we had our first experience ponying in from the field using the gator with Jeff. Prophecy did pretty good and kept himself out of trouble while we drove back to the barn.  He came in with a bit of a boo-boo on a hind heel bulb so I just worked on fitting the saddle to him in the barn and doctored him a bit (the round pen being muddy I just didn't fell like subjecting his hoof to that in a raw state).  I must say that I was really skeptical of the wide being 'enough' for him, but I think this is the first saddle I have put on him that without a pad there is AIR between it and his shoulders!  And when I add the pad I can still easily slide my hand under the front edges with minimal pressure felt.

Pad wise I don't have what I would want to use long term, but do have a fleece barrel pad from Traveler that rarely got used.  He really liked and did well in the HAF pad under his Bandos treeless, this was just an extra for under the treed barrel saddle I had for him. So of course that means complete clash of colors on Prophecy!

Color mismatch! and a bit too long a pad lol
Sunday we got a chance to test it out further - lunging and then some riding in the round pen, his heel bulb looking much better. I made sure not to grab my summer tights to ride in as this seat seemed slick itself and I don't want to have to worry about sliding about.  I thought I might need to invest in something other than my knee patch riding pants but it really wasn't all that slick when riding!

I would totally count Sunday's ride as a win and +1 point for the Enduro.  He was not short striding when lunging, he even cantered in it which I was not able to accomplish well in the Boz lunging. He was not balled up and never once went to buck in 30min of riding in the round pen. He didn't flinch when I would stand in the stirrups, and he put up with me dismounting and starting over a few times to get my stirrup length just right, and once I did we had our "best trot" in a long time. Oh, and I was also really comfy in the saddle too. I switched to my Reflex stirrups tho, instead of the caged ones shown, as I like them for lightweight support.  Next, I'm planning to borrow a shorter coolback pad, and change out my reins back to my rope set with a popper, as he needs a little extra "push" to get into the trot when in the ring!

I'll keep at riding in this saddle this week and seeing if we maintain his approval, or if this was just "better enough" than the saddle before it per say.

Still remaining to try out:

3. Thorowgood T4 Cob:  from a semi-local endurance rider being sent to me through our team mentor that I can grab when we figure a good time to meet.

4. Balance Felix GPD: this is similar to what I am seeking (GPJ) just a different leg angle, in the right tree and seat size, from a fellow SET implementer who is needs to move to another size.

Upcoming we have another Magna Wave session with Sarah, his fall shots, and dental appointment as well to get scheduled.  He will be getting a trim with the barn farrier again in the next few weeks, and hoping he will keep him balanced so we don't have the lameness right after trim.  Sometimes I think I ought to just learn how to do it myself, but finding the time and funds to go take the courses I would want to is tough!

Friday, October 6, 2017


That is what I am doing... mentally struggling with things that I can't control or feel like I can't get a handle on.  Struggling with jealousy of my friends out riding, enjoying the beautiful fall weather, while I scour for a unicorn of a saddle.

I know I have plenty of friends/acquaintances who are saying shut up and ride, make him deal, etc. but this is our path to walk and I want to do right by him. So many times it hasn't been and I want a decade partner out of this journey ; and the way I do that is by listening to him, giving him the answers he needs, and having him trust me as his leader. Am I frustrated, yes - I admit I'm dying to be out there reaching goals and milestones, but I know sorting this out now will be the best for us long term, however long that takes.

I love being with him, and work on his leg circles and TTouch when I see him (which I have noticed he tends to stand more square in the hind after), I just miss the riding part with enjoying the trails (arena and round pen work get old fast unless I'm taking a lesson - but that also requires a saddle that works).

I've been lucky and found 2 different Boz saddles to try out. Now I'm trying to perfect my learning curve with set-up, and make sure he feels right, before committing to buying my own (used or new).  Still we have had issues with the cinch pushing forward (someone needs work to lose his gut and trim down/muscle up), but Boz has ideas to fix that. I tried my breast collar on it one day (as seen in the pic) and think I messed myself up fiddling ; he was not nearly as thrilled about riding with that - straps seem to sit right on top of his shoulder, but not impinging enough that he can't put his head to the ground.  I have a few more adjustments I can make to it, but I'm going to go without it and take it out of the equation for a bit.

I did manage to get his curb strap all figured out on the snaffle, and now he can't as easily grab the reins, nor do the D-rings become "winged out" to the side.  The rein thing is just his way of expressing himself when we aren't doing much it seems, as he will only try that when we are at a halt. My full review of the curb strap is HERE.  Next item will be the breast collar, once I know exactly what I need size wise, and finally the crupper.  Eventually he will match in all his gear! (maybe minus the reins, as I still find I like rope over beta in my hands)

Since that string cinch can grab his now starting to fuzz hair, and really just a cheapo thing I had around in the right length, I borrowed the same length woolback cinch from a friend to see if it makes any difference.  I've found wool to be rather slippery on him in the past so I didn't have high expectations for it when it comes to it wanting to creep forward. Wednesday eve I got to give it a shot and ... well that didn't go so well!  He was really ready to rodeo immediately and I was literally on for just a few minutes at a walk before I could tell he was NOT having it! I loosened the cinch a notch to see if that was the issue but any time I placed weight in the saddle he'd turn to bite.  No go.  So we just did a bit of lunging work with it on and called it a day.
One may say that he was just being a jerk - but this was very uncharacteristic of him in the Boz to date, so I believe it was a legitimate pain/uncomfortable reaction somewhere.

So, back a few steps we went on Thursday night to the string cinch, no breast collar and to tack up on more level ground inside. I have spent on average an hour+ a week on the phone with Boz, asking questions and getting more insight into the design of the saddle and how it might best work for us (plus he gives lots of training tidbits in our convos).  I do like the feeling of being able to make contact with his sides, as it has been very difficult to do so on other saddles due to his wide barrel. Thursday evening I slowed things down tacking up and pushed Wednesday as much out of my mind as I could. This was a new day, not a continuation of what was - Move forward. He gave a few releases during his TTouch work and more willingly did his leg circles as we groomed.  He had a few new teeth marks on his rump overnight so I guess the boys are starting to play rough in the cooler nights/mornings!  We started out with lunging and he stood yawning for a minute or so right off the bat. Mounted up and set off, not so ready to explode. Mentally I said - Ok that is good!  However as soon as I stood in the saddle to check gullet clearance we were back to what was - definitely objecting to the pressure the tree was placing on his withers.  We continued to walk to see if warming up and getting the saddle to flex more would help. Slight improvements, but a few crow hops and head slings... We called it a day and I will give him a break from the saddle for a bit.  I do have a Leon Liversage Wide coming to try and hoping to find that unicorn Balance Felix 8XC saddle yet!

Just about ready to mount up

This weekend will be just chill time with him and starting to work on the trailer again :)  Doug & I took everything out that I needed to last weekend so I can finish the last 2 areas I want to insulate and lay down the 'wood' foam floor. Sometime in the near future Amanda & I will get together and clean the outside & inside of the horse area before the winter freezing temps arrive!  I've got lots of ideas now to work on over the winter and I get to help Amanda with her new BP 'conversion' too :)

I'll leave you with the contented looks of dinner mash face!

Monday, September 25, 2017

And the beat goes on

I admit it, sometimes I struggle for good post titles!

But, it is exactly what is going on. The beat goes on, so we keep marching forward.

We had a bobble with the farrier and his last trim, but I was able to have him fixed up within with a week by the farrier that takes care of many of the horses at Wild Air (enough that he comes three weeks in a row to get through everyone).  I also managed to pick up a Boz saddle for the weekend from Amy, therefore getting to catch up with my teammate and her husband Ricky in the process :)

I had a few fitting issues with it on our first try, but likely some is related to how thick the sponge pads are that are currently on it (apparently older ones and have a lot of wear).  So I called Boz and we chatted for a good hour on it all.  This is an older one, 1994 date, in really good condition otherwise and been through Tevis.  Prophecy gave it one half-hearted buck on the initial trot off (free lunging) and then turned, stopped and faced me and started to lick. I think he was processing how different it felt.  I sent him off several more times with no issues and then hopped on for a walk about the round pen.  Realizing I needed some more insight on fitting, I did not push to do much on our first time (plus he was still taking off steps on occasion as this was before 2nd farrier came). I did not find the seat feeling overly wide like I had found some reviews saying, and that was definitely a concern for me having such a wide barrel underneath me already!

We've done some more work with fitting the new bit, and I was able to add a matching Curb Strap
from Two Horse Tack to his bridle. I got a cob size because he does have a cob size nose - but is a little big.  Its only purpose on the snaffle is to prevent the bit from being pulled through, so not meant to be tight or engage the chin, just could be a little tighter for less flop. This is an easy enough fix to poke another hole. It is well made, easy to set up and of course looks smashing on him all matched up!  I also specifically chose this type as it has very little metal, something else learned at the clinic in Aug; As much as I 'hate to do it' because it takes away from the ease of use per say, I will also remove the metal scissor clips on his reins as now I understand how annoying that dinging around could become.

Sunday was the long awaited TTouch & Bemer day for him! 

First, I had some time beforehand to ride in the Boz Saddle again and set it up with Boz's first set of tweaks.  We did get some long low head stretching, but the pads are definitely not the right ones for Prophecy.  I will be returning this one back to Amy this week and borrowing a different one that has pads in better shape and a fleece seat to try. If I can get a few good rides in then I can work on finding used or deciding on a new one while still waiting for a Balance to pop-up.  No bucks when free lunging, and no off steps :)

After that bit of playing around, we finally got to meet Pam Woolley for a working session.  She brought her whole arsenal so we could play with whatever was needed.  We did a quick history dump about him and decided to focus in on the back and that right hind awkwardness that you can see from time to time.  First, just basic TTouch body focusing, then some leg circles where he presented stiffer in the RF and LH for ROM.  Next we played with the Sure Foot Pads giving him time on all four (individually and in pairs) with firm pads and the wedges. His hips freed up and ribs started to swing more with the walk, as well as his back legs really reaching under better. We finished up with an 8 min session of the Bemer pad, which he was practically asleep for.

Our homework: Do the TTouch intro and leg circles every time I mess with him and should start to see some major changes in how he feels/moves.  Overall his back was in pretty good shape, just need to free up the shoulders and hips.  Also, get a firm sure foot pad set if I can! (I'll be stalking for sales if anyone happens to notice one!).

Lastly his dinner after spending over 3 hours with me, and then headed out to the field calmly.

I could really sit for hours and enjoy watching the horses and the amazing views we have...  I always find it funny to watch Prophecy search for his herd when I turn him back out. He ran nearly the whole 22 acres one day going to the wrong hill first and having to come back down to the other hillside.   He seems very happy overall, greets me in the field, is never really worried about leaving, goes back and finds his buds and doesn't turn up with lots of marks on him, so I think he gets along just fine!