Further Adventures with My New Saddle

This week I rode three horses using my new saddle.  Doing so made me appreciate my Corrector saddle pad even more than before!  While my new Crosby looked like it fit the horses’ backs, withers and shoulders much better than my other English saddles, the two horses I used it on without the Corrector shortened their strides at the walk, did not move their backs as much, did “stabbing” trots, and otherwise indicated some discomfort.

Last Sunday I used my new Lynn Palm Crosby (17”, medium tree) on Cider.  When I talked with Shannon to arrange my ride I told her about the new saddle and she was excited to try it on her mare.  I took my Corrector with me in case it was a totally horrible fit, but when we put the saddle on Cider without any pads, Shannon decided she wanted to see how Cider moved under this saddle without the Corrector.  Cider has mutton withers, broad and low, that extend back a decent amount (Cider had a good slope to her shoulder.)  My new saddle sat rather high, but where the panels rested against Cider’s rib cage the slope seemed identical.  Shannon got Cider’s girth out, but it was WAY too short.  After a few minutes of rummaging around her tack room, I found the girth extender and Shannon was finally able to get the girth to the bottom hole of the billet straps and finish saddling Cider.

When I got up on Cider, it was obvious that Cider was not totally comfortable.  Instead of gently “swinging” her back she held her back still, instead of freely extending her front leg she took short steps, and during a short trot she was “stabbing” with her front legs instead of landing with supple pasterns.  Cider was not comfortable so I did not ask for an athletic walk.  In fact, Cider moved like an old tired school horse after 4 hours of carting beginners around the ring instead of a reasonably athletic horse that does not work hard at all.  At first Cider did not like the fact that my new saddle squeaks, but after a few minutes she decided the squeaks would not hurt her.  Shannon asked me to trot, and Cider’s trot was short strided and she was tense in her back.  After thirty minutes, Shannon and I agreed that the next time I ride Cider we will be using my Corrector pad under the saddle!  Fortunately Cider’s back did not seem sore when Shannon unsaddled her and probed her back.

On Wednesday when I got to the stable I told Debbie I wanted to see if my new saddle worked better on Bingo with the Corrector pad.  Since I put the Corrector in the sleeve without the fleece lining the pad was thinner, but even so I had to search out a 48” girth from Debbie’s vast collection (with my old Crosby Wide Front, Corrector in the thicker sleeve and the BOT Contender II pad we were using a 44” girth.)  It took me a few minutes to walk out to the ring, and by the time I got there Debbie had tightened Bingo’s girth enough so I could go ahead and mount him.  I asked Bingo to walk, and after his usual attempts to back up or turn in place he finally strode forward, and this time he was really striding forward!  I hardly had to use any leg to get a free-swinging walk at a decent rate of speed, unlike the week before when I had to use my legs every stride to keep him walking on.  Debbie said she did not see much difference in his gait, but I definitely felt a difference!  Bingo’s back was “swinging”, he was using his shoulders to move his leg forward, and he felt much more comfortable to ride.  Immediately Debbie noticed that my seat was off to the side, and she changed the length of my stirrup leathers.  Now these are my brand new half-hole leathers, never used before, and when she got the stirrups even my left stirrup leather was on hole number nine and my right stirrup leather was on hole number seven.  This helped me keep centered in the saddle, but I was surprised I had to do this with brand new stirrup leathers!  I am going to have to put some shims in my Corrector to even out how the saddle rests on Bingo‘s back.  Luckily, Len Brown has a thorough discussion on his site: 

http://www.thecorrector.net, on page 9:  Saddling the One-Sided Horse.  I will have to put shims in the right front pocket of the Corrector.

On Friday I rode Mia for the first time in three weeks.  I did not ride her the last few weeks because I wanted to give her new cough medicine time to work.  Her cough has improved gradually, Debbie told me that she no longer hears Mia coughing all the time out in the pasture, but she coughed when she was led to the wash stall.  Debbie called Sam, and found out Mia was not dosed with her cough medicine the day before.  Debbie dosed Mia with the cough syrup and my husband started grooming her.

I had run into a mention on the COTH forum about the HandsOn grooming glove (you can see it at http://www.handsongloves.com) and though they are somewhat pricey, $24.99 USD a pair, my husband got me a pair for my upcoming birthday.  He used this glove instead of my usual currycomb, and Mia showed her great pleasure as he went over her body with it.  Then I used it on her head instead of the Jelly Scrubber, and Mia showed me that she enjoyed me using the HandsOn grooming glove a lot more that the Jelly Scrubber!  She let me use more pressure, she gladly let me groom parts of her head that she normally does not want brushed, and she kept angling her head so I would use the glove on every square millimeter of her head!  It is official, Mia LOVES the HandsOn grooming glove.  After I groomed her head I put on the BOT poll cap and the ear bonnet, but Mia repeatedly shook off the ear bonnet, maybe the cough medicine made her ears more sensitive, anyway when I took the ear bonnet off Mia stopped shaking her head.  Then we saddled Mia, using the BOT Contender II pad with the Corrector on top as pads, and I could hardly get her usual 44” girth up to the bottom hole of the billet straps, next time I am using my 46” girth.

When I mounted Mia I noticed that my new saddle, with the thinner panels, gave more room for the Corrector pad and everything under the saddle lay correctly instead of being bunched together.  She strode forth freely at the walk and she had no problems with my new saddle.  The squeaking leather did not bother her at all.  Unfortunately after a few minutes she started coughing some, and when I did a few short trots she started coughing harder.  Since Mia has been schooled correctly for many years, her back muscles are evenly developed and I did not have the problem of uneven stirrups.  Debbie was giving one of her borders a private lesson so I saw some decent jumping over low fences as I kept Mia out of the way of the other horse.  All through my ride, Mia kept her back relaxed and I had an enjoyable ride, except for the darn coughing.

For the next few months I will have to put shims in the front, right side of my Corrector for Bingo and I will have to remember to take the shims out for Mia and Cider.  Just one more thing I have to remember to do when I ride the horses.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran 

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