So I've seen and heard it said a thousand times, and I'm living it - Endurance many times is more about getting TO a ride, than actually riding to a finish!
So here I am enduring my journey... and I feel like I've had it rough...Finally got to a ride and am 2 miles from the end when I lose my partner of the last 7years in a freak accident.
No doubt I was bitten by the bug and searched for my next life long trail partner who I found in Tesla. I had high hopes of doing 5 rides this year with him and getting to start our decade team status, which have slowly dashed away... The first ride down due to not having the conditioning time we needed because our winter was too icy to train safely. We made it to the next two to come out with a much more Bucky and harder to handle horse at the OD. So we dropped out of another ride, the 3rd leg of the OD Triple Crown, to work on our ground work more and relax some.
We've battled trailer loading issues, which I thought we had worked through, and then he's back tracked on me recently.
I started down a saddle hunt with a fitter thinking I just needed a 2nd saddle, only to find out my issues since OD are related to saddle fit and now have no saddle to ride in that won't make him sore in some way. I have found a Stonewall in CA that is my top choice right now. Though I haven't ridden in one yet - I've been told if I love treeless I will love this saddle too. We tried out my barn owner's medium for fit this past week as he was too sore to ride and the assessment was that it looked good, just may need a little shimming on the left shoulder (like everything else).
I had thought we'd try our first 50 at Iron Mountain at the end of this month, but with no saddle yet that works, I'm thinking that is out...so that leaves waiting until November for a 50 in NJ. There are closer ones, but offered on days I can't manage - like Halloween. I can't miss that with the kids!
He also needs a chiro adjustment, but the rates around here are pretty flipping ridiculous! $250-300 for the appointment, basically per visit give or take $50 savings of the initial "exam fee". At least I've got him on the schedule with our equine body worker for every 2 weeks now to try and work through his back kinks, and I will continue to work on the chiro appointment...
I decided to stay local and easy and go to Pleasant Grove with some friends - meeting 1030. I got to the barn at 830 and gave myself an hour to load after hooking up, etc. First order after hook up with check Tesla's back. He didn't show any reactivity or soreness so we were going! Now, loading... We were getting somewhere with getting on giving to the pressure, but slowly. Shawn was just about to head out on his ride so he came up and grabbed my carrot stick (lunge whip) and just barely tapped Tesla and he was on. Okeydokey...no horrific battle, no kicking out at the person tapping him, I'll take it.
We got to the park, he did pretty well tied up for tacking - calmer once I put his hay bag up. Today we tried out one of my other mentor's saddles he is thinking of selling...and Ortho Flex Endurance. It was neat to see the panels/booties moving with Tesla's shoulders through the pommel area. Once I got the stirrup length and girth figured out we were good to go. He offered no bucks and my rear and knees were way more comfy than in the Specialized we tried last weekend. I think the seat might be a little big for me, but I need a 15" to compare to! We had a great 9.5mile ride, with two HUGE spooks that I stayed in the saddle for...granted the second one really got my chest hurting again as I held on for dear life, but I stayed on! lol The rider behind me was surprised as he apparently teleported to the left quite aways and fast :P
Loading to come home, I took some of Shawn's advice. I walked him up, with my carrot stick in hand this time. Stepped on the trailer myself, then straightened Tesla out using my stick. Tapped his back end and up he came. Yay! He even stood nicely for me to latch the slant and hook him up to the tie. I left the trailer to grab a carrot for him to eat and apparently the slant latch wasn't secure and he backed his way off (panic snap I believe let loose on the tie but didn't hear that happen). Loose horse! Riding buddy grabbed him at another trailer as he was saying HI through the window and I repeated the same loading pattern with no issue. Latches secure and checked 2x, and we were ready to roll! That will teach me not to do up both bars in the trailer before walking away (the butt bar at the door was down since I was coming back on). Praying I found the trick to use on him for loading in the future!
But now I'm torn on saddles....I love the idea of the Stonewall and how lightweight it is. I love how the Ortho Flex fit him so well and stayed put during the ride. One is about 1/2 the cost than the other, used or new...The ortho flex is quite a bit heavier than the Stonewall. Anyone want to buy one for me so I can have both?!
|Specialized tried out at Graves last weekend.|
|Stonewall medium tried on for fit check (sitting a little forward here)|
|OrthoFlex and sporting a new halter. Loving Blue on him :)|
Further reflection... we are all on our own endurance journey that has bumps in the road, some bigger than others. I know several others dealing with sore backs, mystery or known lameness, health issues of themselves or their horses...and lack of time to condition. I am confident we will hit the trail again, hopefully this year; but if not, we will continue to endure until we are ready and enjoy the journey!
Ride on! :)