Me and My Saddle, We Just Aren't Getting Along.

This week, since I haven’t gotten the girth billets on my Stubben fixed, I was riding in my Wintec 250 GP saddle for both my lesson with Mick and for my ride on Mia.  I had put the rear shims back in my Corrector pad but this week I did not feel as secure as I had before when I used them, I guess something in my body changed yet again. 

On Wednesday I woke up to rain, and Debbie called and we rescheduled for Thursday.  So I was out bright and early on Thursday, and got the Ttouch Clouded Leopard circles and Abalone Ttouch circles done on Mick before he got groomed.  His skin over his loin and croup was so stiff and hard that I do not see how these circles can be doing any good, until I rode, and then I felt how much they help.  Thursday the Abalone circles on the girth area did not seem to help when we girthed him up around 10 minutes later, he was threatening to nip--telling us to be CAREFUL, all the time we were tightening the girth.  Maybe I need to do the Abalone circles just before saddling like I did last week.  Other than that Mick was fine, he moved off promptly and his back started “swinging” from the first step at the walk.  My lesson was fine as I tried to find that magic part of the seat of my saddle where I would stop sliding all over the place.  The Wintec 250 has ONE inch of space (from front to back) where my seat bones can stay comfortably, one inch in an 18” seat!  This makes moving my seat back and forth in the saddle to reflect the horse’s state of balance an iffy proposition.  In my leather saddles there is a little bit more room and my seat bones do not feel that they have to stay in just one spot in the saddle, so in them I can adjust where I sit in the saddle depending on what the horse is doing.  I also had a constant struggle to keep my lower legs at the girth, they kept on wanting to move further back along the horse’s rib cage.  Since I was constantly struggling with the saddle I got tired quicker and did not last as long as usual at the trot, we went over 6 trotting poles twice and it totally exhausted me.

On Friday I got to ride Mia for the first time in three weeks.  I was lucky, Mia’s hooves had been done that week so her feet just needed a little rasping off the toes instead of 30 minutes of hard work.  Since we had almost an inch of rain last week I expected her coat to be full of fungus but I lucked out again, when I used my slicker tool the fungus was no worse than usual, just little tiny spots in a few places in her coat.  Yeah, I did not have to get completely exhausted taking care of her before my ride!  It was SO GOOD to be riding Mia again, I had missed our rides the previous few weeks.  I spent most of my time trying to find a spot in the Wintec where I could sit properly without using any extra muscles to keep my basic position.  I failed.  I also noticed that there seemed to be a ridge right above the middle of my thigh which made using my whole leg at the same time for an aid next to impossible.  After about 10 minutes of trying to use my leg properly I started hurting around halfway down my left thigh on the OUTSIDE, the inside of my leg was fine as far as painful muscles were concerned.  Finally I decided that the Wintec 250 must have a “wide twist”.  Whatever it is, it is uncomfortable for me.  Then Mia started shying at things she has not shied at for years (or earlier in the ride) and she kept on being suspicious about anything lying on the ground outside the ring the rest of my ride.  Debbie had been coming in and out of the barn glancing over my way during my ride, mostly to check Mia’s trot for lameness.  When I got back to the barn I asked her permission to try my dressage saddle (old leather) next week but she told me to go back to my old Crosby jumping saddle, that we would finagle around with the shims in my Corrector pad to get the saddle to fit right.  She said she would help me in the dressage saddle if I really wanted to ride in it, but that I rode so well in the Crosby that it didn’t make any sense for me to struggle in the dressage saddle.  Come to think of it Mia did not shy at all when I rode her in the Crosby a month ago, and Mick went quite well in it though it wasn‘t 100%  right on his back.  I am getting the feeling that the horses are not that comfortable with the Wintec 250 either, nothing major, just a sense that they are not quite at ease with it on their backs.  This is probably because I am sliding around so much in it.

In spite of my hurting leg I really enjoyed riding Mia. I had to rest several times through my ride.  Mia LIKES stopping and resting, she likes seeing and listening to everything that is happening around her. During one of our rest stops as Mia regally surveyed her empire, I realized how much I missed riding Mia, how much I had missed riding a pure Arab mare, how much I had missed “talking” with a pure Arab mare, and I reflected on how fortunate I was to be back riding Mia. 

Then,  as I looked down at Mia, there came a moment of almost transcendental happiness.  You see since I was 14 and first read “Drinkers of the Wind” one of my life’s goals was to ride and become friends with a pure Arab mare, and now, thanks to Debbie and Mia, I am there.  I ride Mia, Mia is my friend, and all is right in the world when I am on her back.  In spite of the saddle.

A good horse makes everything better.

Today I got to ride Bobby.  This time I added to the Clouded Leopard Ttouches on his shoulders and neck, and proceeded to do the Ttouches down back and down his croup and thigh on both sides, and for some reason I also did some on his jaw bones and on his face up to his forelock.  Once we started walking around the ring I noticed that my Wintec Wide GP saddle was sitting down on his back properly and I had no problems with my saddle except for its general slickness of the synthetic seat and saddle flaps.  I even felt comfortable and almost secure!  Bobby behaved a little better today though he chewed on his bit a little more (5 chomps instead of 3 chomps) when we stopped.  It was a LOT easier to keep Bobby straight even when I was not keeping contact, in fact most of the ride was on sagging reins.  We had only one or two little discussions when he wanted to go to Shannon rather than past Shannon, but it took a lot less energy to straighten him out with my thighs and lower legs, and once straightened out he even kept straighter coming out of some curves.  Shannon has also noticed that Bobby has become a lot more cooperative since I started doing the Ttouches on him, and that the more Ttouches I do the more cooperative Bobby gets.  It isn’t an instant “Oh my God I can‘t believe it!” type of progress like it has been with Mick, it is a tiny bit of improvement every ride.  That is fine, most progress in training comes slowly as the horse’s body figures out how to obey the aids and do all of the strange, strange, strange things we ask them to do.

Next week I will be back in my favorite saddle!  Too bad I can’t use it on Bobby too.

Have a great ride!

Jackie Cochran  



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