Sunday, April 3, 2011

Saddle experiments

I just submitted my application for Graduate School. A little surreal that I'm preparing to move on to the next step.

Now I can't wait to move on and "graduate" from having an unsound horse! I feel like it's been forever since I've really been able to ride. I'm still waiting on my packages to get here to make me really want to ride all the time, but by then I'll have an inescapable urge to be at the barn all the time since that's already where I want to be.

I did a few interesting experiments recently. So, I got her adjusted by a chiropractor. I also got a saddle on trial. The first time after I had ridden her was when I tried the new saddle. This is not the best way to see if a saddle or the adjustment is really making a difference. Sooo... then it rained for a week, the arena washed away, and just now are we able to start working consistently again. I've also set aside a few hours each day to be just barn time. So far this has been working to get me out to the barn, but not to get my homework done... oops... we'll have to keep working on that.

I rode in my old saddle a few days ago and Bijou was back to bucking and generally being REALLY unhappy. So I borrowed a longer girth from a good friend so I could try my new-saddle-to-be again. She was sore at first, almost to the point that I didn't want to get on. She even nipped at me with her ears pinned when I tightened her girth which she has NEVER done. I was worried about riding her but I figured I'd just get on and keep it slow and not ask her for anything that didn't feel right. Once she had the saddle on she was fine. We only walked and trotted but she was bendable and generally ok, MUCH better than she had been in the other saddle. Today her back was still tender so I just lunged.

I'm a little conflicted about how I'm going to handle her soreness. I want to give her time off to let anything heal, since pain is usually due to inflammation etc... but I want to strengthen her to make her better. I think I'm just going to go painfully slow but be consistent, like how I would need things to be in order to get stronger if I were making new muscles in the gym.

Today I decided to use the new saddle again to see if things would get better. I lunged first to hopefully get some willies out since I want riding to be a calm and work-filled experience... boy am I glad I did! She was still silly in the arena after lunging at mostly a walk and trot for about 10 minutes. I decided since the saddle was fitting, and her adjustment should have had time to set, that she was probably just spazzing out. I started out trying to make things to complicated and asking too much, my bad. I was asking for real bends in the walk and trot and I think those things are still hard for her to keep up for any length of time. Every time I'd try to get a good bend out of her in the trot she'd go into a leaping/bucking fit. So I took a step back... time to pick my battles. I just wanted a quiet posting trot for a few times around the arena in both directions. I changed my tactics and made it black and white. If she was quiet and soft she got to go around with very little input from me, all she had to do was stay straight and quit the bucking thing. If she decided to go nuts on me, she got to run/walk around with her nose on my boot until she quit tossing her head and fighting me. Surprisingly (NOT) this made her want to cooperate for longer periods of time. So after 30 minutes of warm up and fart around, we finally got about 20 minutes of good walk/trot work. Phew!

Now I just have to stay on it for this week. By the way, the sweat marks under the saddle were immaculate again, so I'm really happy that this one might actually fit her (for a little while at least). I'm also going to have her teeth floated and give her spring vacs this week! Yay for getting things done!

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