So I could wear my FITS deerskin paneled breeches. This was good because I totally gave up on using double fold Western saddle blankets with the Stubben Siegfried. So I put my Corrector back in its “sock”, apologized to the horses for any anxiety caused by the saddle blankets, and I suffered an immediate deterioration of my lower leg. Now is the time for Arts and Crafts with Mia‘s saddle blanket!
Sunday I rode Cider in the EZ-Fit treeless saddle, and since I could wear my FITS breeches I took the Mattes sheepskin seat saver off the saddle. I made sure to work plenty of the old-fashioned saddle soap into the leather of the EZ-Fit so that the leather ended up slightly sticky to the touch. I finally got the stirrups even (I had to pad one of my stirrups a little more, somehow I could not get that extra ¼ inch in centering the stirrup rigging completely right), and when I got up in the saddle I felt nice and secure. At no time during my ride did my seat slide around the saddle seat! Since I took the seat saver off I had a little extra room in the saddle which was a relief to me since I DO NOT LIKE having my seat bones forced to stay in one position in a treeless saddle since I believe that can eventually lead to the development of sore spots on the horse‘s back.
Cider appreciated my greater security in the saddle, and she immediately insisted that my seat get centered in the saddle (from side-to-side.) Now my EZ-Fit saddle is not completely centered, the pommel is a little off to the side and one side of the saddle is a goes down a little more on one side (as Eli, the EZ-Fit maker told me it is hard to perfectly center a treeless saddle. He has offered to try and correct the saddle but I just cannot bring myself to let it go however temporarily because Cider likes it so much in spite of its imperfections.) Cider has adapted well to these problems with the saddle because the saddle stays secure on her back and because this is the most comfortable saddle I’ve put on her back, MUCH more comfortable than the perfectly centered Wintec Wide. However, as Cider reminded me, it is up to me, the rider, to make up for all deficiencies of the saddle, which means Cider wants ME perfectly centered in the saddle. So I spent most of my ride at the walk trying to perform up to Cider’s standards. Sit up straight, get my seat bones where they need to be in the seat, keep my seat bones perfectly centered in the seat while Cider’s back moves, and every time I got off center Cider kindly showed me the errors of my seat by bowing out at the shoulder. A few times I did get centered up to her standards and we had some strides going straight until the next turn. Since Shannon’s ring is small those next turns come frequently which meant I had to constantly correct my seat. Luckily for me Cider never gives up on trying to make me the type of rider she wants, she is determined that I will improve!
Monday Mia REALLY appreciated going back to just the Corrector in its “sock”, she did not shake herself at all, but I was somewhat miserable because the saddle was moving under me a little which meant my seat did not feel as secure. Mia has this cough that mostly comes out when I ride her, I think the poor mare is reacting to the plentiful pollen in the air and the mold that inevitably starts growing in the center of the round bales, so we would trot, Mia would start coughing, I let Mia cough in peace, walk some, do another trot until she started coughing again, back and forth the whole ride. She took and kept contact willingly at the walk and trot (between the coughing fits) and strode forth freely. She was just glad not to be in PTSD from the wool saddle blanket bringing up unpleasant memories. She did tell me that now is the time for me to lighten my hand aid for the turn on the hindquarters. Thinking back Mia has been trying to tell me this for a while, obviously it is now time to LISTEN to her and correct yet another of my many riding faults.
Tuesday I finally got what I’ve wanted for DECADES, double offset Prussian sided stirrups (thanks Nancy!) I immediately put them on my Stubben for my lesson on Wednesday. I was sort of worried because the foot bed of the stirrup slopes (from side to side) quite a bit but when I got up on Mick I had no problems at all, my ankles’ ligaments stretched enough and I felt quite comfortable. For the first time in decades I did not have to use any muscles to get my heels down and my ankle “cocked”.
After Debbie groomed Mick I got out my wooden ball massage roller and went down his back with it, concentrating on his loin. The I also did the Ttouch circles down his back too. Doing both of these therapies seemed to help more than just doing one or the other. I had the same problem with the micro saddle movements that I had with Mia, I really missed the wool blanket since it holds the saddle in place much better than anything else I’ve tried. However Mick adapted to my old insecurities of seat without much problem. Since the saddle was moving a little under me and because I was adapting to wearing my new offset stirrups my lower leg lost its recently gained stability, which Debbie kindly pointed out every time it happened! Luckily this did not seem to bother Mick too much. After several trots I decided to see how bad his sitting trot was without the wool blanket holding the back of the saddle stable, and his sitting trot was not too bad, worse than with the wool blanket but not as jarring as it was before I tried the wool blanket (in other words the massage roller and the Ttouch circle combination worked!) I was able to sit his trot almost as much as with the wool blanket because it did not JAR me as much as usual. Still it was a challenge for me to keep my seat bones “glued” to the saddle. We repeated the sitting trot three times. I did notice that my Prussian sided offset stirrups were staying in place on my feet during the sitting trot instead of migrating towards my heels which always happens with my regular stirrups.
After I got off Mick I knew that I had to get it so I could used both a wool saddle blanket and the Corrector at the same time. I decided to sacrifice Mia’s wool blanket, the one I just got after ordering it over the net without being able to see it (never again!) I’ve spent days planning this, but when I got to the point of actually working with the blanket my plans rapidly changed. I had been planning on cutting the blanket to the shape of the saddle but I do not think that will work. Poor Mia, I’ll just have to help her work through her bad memories that a rectangular Western blanket brings out. This saddle blanket alteration is a multi-day project for me, yesterday I cut the blanket in half and did a blanket stitch down the cut side to stop the unraveling of the blanket. Today I will cut off the front hem where the saddle blanket has a little roll, and then I will have to blanket stitch that part. Tomorrow I hope to cut the blanket so it will move with the Corrector properly, a slit in front, a slit in the back, and an elongated ellipse in the middle, just like the Corrector sock. Once I get that all blanket stitched and I have reinforced where the pad bridges over the horse‘s back I should be set! I have already found out that it is impossible for me to slide the Corrector in its sock over the wool saddle blanket. Later on, when I find some regular wool cloth that is easier to work, I will add pockets to keep the Corrector permanently in place. Hopefully I will end up with the stability of the wool blanket and the protection of the Corrector for the horse and we will both be happy! I hate sewing. I hate cutting cloth. Oh, the things I will do to keep the horses happy with my riding!
Have a great ride!