Wet.  Humid.  “Tropical air”.  5.35 inches of rain in the last 7 days.  Dew points in the 70’s F, heat indexes hitting the low 90’s F.

Last Tuesday I ran down to my “local” tack store and asked Donna, the owner, if there were any breeches or tights cooler than and as secure as my FITS all-weather breeches.  She picked out a Kerrit’s full seat tight and a FITS Treads Lite breech with rubber dots where the FITS full seat paneled patches go.  I got the FITS breech because it felt cooler and I had hope that the rubber dots would help me stay secure in the saddle.  I had not originally wanted to buy another pair of riding pants but the weather is tropical down here now except that it has been staying in the 80’s F.   

I got my lesson in on Wednesday, in between rain showers.  Before I left home I made sure to put extra old-fashioned saddle soap on the flaps of my saddle.  Proudly walking around in my cooler FITS breeches I looked forward to riding Mick in them!  When I started off at the walk I had few problems, it was a little more difficult for me to stay forward in the saddle but I was not sliding around like I had been in the Kerrit’s Flow Rise performance riding tights.  So far so good.  Then we started trotting, and my new breeches seemed as secure as my older Clarino knee patch breeches.  Then I tried 2-pointing at the trot and I quickly learned the limitations of grip of the little rubber dots.  Each time a diagonal touched down the shock moved my knee back a fraction of an inch, then the next one on and on until I was in my usual not very strong two-point position.  Bummer!  Near the end of my lesson Debbie had me trot Mick over trotting poles and I jounced around like I have for the past 6-7 years.  These pants were cool, maybe not as cool as the Kerrit’s performance tight but definitely cooler than my other FITS breeches, cool enough that I was did not have sweat running down my face and into my eyes.

When I got home I decided to see if putting the old-fashioned saddle soap on the “knee patches” of my new breeches would help my security when I rode Mia on Friday.  Mia’s hooves have been growing rapidly so I got quite hot rasping them down.  We were worried that it would start raining any minute but the clouds kindly did not release their rain.  I was a tiny bit more secure in the saddle with the saddle soap on the knee and thigh patches, but I still slid back a fraction of an inch each stride of the trot when I rode two-point.  A little bit more secure, but nowhere as secure as when I used the old-fashioned saddle soap on the saddle and the leather patches of my FITS doeskin breeches.  On the positive side my seat was secure enough so that Mia had no problems with my contact, she voluntarily sought out my hand in response to my legs, picked up a soft and relaxed contact which she kept until I loosened the reins both at a walk and trotting. 

So now I have to decide, do I want to be as cool as possible when riding or do I want to feel competent in the saddle?  I am so sick and tired of sliding around in the saddle like I do with Clarino, other synthetic suedes, and now the rubber dotted knee and thigh patches.  It seems like all the modern synthetic stretch fabrics and synthetic “suedes” destroy the frictional grip between my riding pants and the saddle.  The slipping and sliding also make me much more tired, I get my balance right, the horse moves, my leg grip “breaks”, I have to regain my balance and the process repeats endlessly.  When I ride I have my RS-tor in my hand, I have a neck strap on the horse, my heels are down and my head is up and I never feel truly secure.  The rubber dots of my newest breeches helped, but in between each and every dot is the modern super slippery technical fabric, and its slipperiness overcame a lot of the extra grip from the little rubber dots.

But the modern technical fabrics are SO COOL!  Where normally my whole body would be covered with sweat my skin feels dry except for my face, and even there I am cool enough so the sweat does not run down into my eyes.  My core body temperature stays down enough so that the heat does not make my MS symptoms a lot worse.  If only I could get the grip that I get from the doeskin patches, then I would be deliriously happy because I would have successfully overcome my worst problems of riding in the heat!

And it is not that my FITS deerskin patch breeches are that unbearably hot, they also have a technical fabric, but being an “all-weather” technical fabric it is not quite as cool as the other ones I’ve ridden in.  The feeling of security I get from these breeches (when I use the saddle soap on them and the saddle) is so WONDERFUL!!!!!  I can two-point at the trot and my knees stay in the knee rolls instead of sliding back, I know where my legs are the whole time, and I use a lot less energy to move with the horse because I can stay WITH the motion of the horse instead of constantly sliding back until my whole body is BEHIND the motion of the horse.  The horses are also a lot happier with me because my body is not shifting around on their backs.  I feel that I am riding correctly, Debbie praises me for the high quality of my seat, and the horses are going “see, I knew you could ride”.  Most of the time I even forget to hold my RS-tor in my hand because my body feels secure enough not to need it. 

I am going to go for feeling super secure over feeling cool, and go back to wearing my FITS deerskin patch breeches.  I LIKE feeling competent in the saddle!

Next week I will be using my EZ-Fit treeless saddle on Mick.  His back does not seem to be loosening up as much under my Stubben as it does under the EZ-Fit.  Since it is only going to get hotter I decided I would rather ride treeless as I do not have to use my legs as much to keep him going with impulse.  That will help make up for the warmer breeches that keep me secure in the saddle!

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran   



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