Sunday, May 31, 2015

Location Location Location

So it's been a busy time for Ashe and I with the summer season coming upon us!

We've had two big steps forward!

The first:

I've not only managed to get his mane roached on my own accord, he even let me run the mini clippers up his neck to fix it up. Granted the initial cutting was with scissors, but the fact that he stood there while I buzzed up and down the sides and the top to even it out is a HUGE step forward. I'm almost ready to invest in a good pair of clippers to do his legs and mane from now on!

Still a bit rough but looking handsome!

The second:

You all know his fear of hoses. And the fact that we'll get some progress in and then suddenly he's pulling back and running away and generally making my life difficult and very wet.

Well after talking to his previous owner I found out that her lesson students would just cross tie him in the wash stall and hose him down despite his issues, I decided to give it a go. I'm not a huge fan of the new inside wash stall's location, just off the riding ring, but I figured it'd be worth a try.

Stinker Ashe stood there (eye's big as saucers) the entire time I hosed him down and not once did he bolt, spin around, etc. He also was not cross-tied because I was a bit nervous that he'd slip and fall if he panicked while tied. I'm going to try bathing him next in that area and I'll just have to make sure he's pretty dried off before heading into the ring sand.

Maybe I can use this as a baby step to getting him okay with bathing outside. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Rolling It on Back

Riding lesson this past Friday was interesting. We have been working on flexibility and ease of turning, particularly at the canter.
My trainer decided to introduce rollbacks. The jumping kind. The kind where you go over a jump and two strides out turn towards the wall and change direction. Everything help you if you land on the wrong lead and your horse is stubborn that we go “THAT WAY”… 
We started out with cross rails, but Ashe barely put any effort into them. They were more for me to get the feel of what I should be doing and to introduce him to the fact that “No, we are not turning away from the wall but into it”. After a bit we bumped it up to a good 2’ vertical and added cantering… 
Getting him on his right lead canter is difficult enough, now you’re adding in jumping (butt weight in direction of turn) and then in two strides later  (Look, Sit up, lift inside shoulder, lift and half halt inside hand, put on outside leg/knee) turning him sharply to the outside (encouraging him to lift with his back end to turn) all while making sure we’re changing leads. This boy has yet to do any sort of flying lead change on cue as well (He generally does them over jumps himself, but we have not attempted this yet on the flat). 
Half the time he lead changed perfectly, half the time he did the front, but not the back. However  we really got the pattern down (Him even turning in the right direction when I got my rights/lefts confused) focusing on right canter lead to left turn. My timing needs work, I’m still holding two point a little too long after the jump which affects how well he can bring himself back and under to turn. It also helped me to feel where my seat bone weight is and that should help us with cueing the canter as well J
He was a real trooper though! She gave me some specs to practice on my own. I hope to have a video clip of us doing this soon!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Finding the Right Saddle

Before the winter hit, a barn mate brought out a saddle fitter for her new horse (A very broad backed Canadian breed). I was intrigued, because I knew the Wintec still didn’t fit right for either of us, and was hoping she’d might be able to help us out, without going the route of a custom saddle. While Terry does do custom Schleese, she was more than willing to work with Ashe and I.

Ashe made me so proud! He stood like a pro without being tied the entire time she was measuring and adjusting the tools on his back and around his belly. It wasn’t too long ago that he had bolted from a cloth measuring tape when I attempted to measure him for a blanket.
Such a handsome boy!
In the end she told me what I had thought, but hoped was wrong. The saddle didn’t fit, it was too long in the tree (he has a small saddle bearing area) and too tight for all around wither clearance. Apparently it’s not enough just to have 3 fingers between the top of wither to the gullet, but also enough clearance (3-4 fingers) on the side AND wide enough so it wasn't pushing on his spine. Along with this, the angle of the gullet needs to match the shoulders to allow for freedom of movement.
I was given a task: Finding a saddle with a short tree, for wide backed low wither horse with the right angle. The only saddle she could think to recommend for me to try was Thorowgood. Well I couldn’t buy a brand new saddle with my wintec sitting in my tack trunk so I took it to be sold (along with other tack that just ended up not fitting him. Seriously, this horse needs cob cheek pieces and an oversize browband…). Over the winter we worked on our ground work and laterals while I searched.
After asking on COTH, I contacted Hastilow and we found a “semi-warm” (aka about 28 degrees) day to test ride a saddle or two. They almost didn’t have anything for me, but at the last minute found what is now, my lovely new to me saddle J It’s a cob tree Thorowgood T8 jumping saddle in a 17inch seat. The flaps are short which I adore (I will always get short flaps now if I can! Yay for short inseams!) and my leg falls into the right spot effortlessly. Some new padding and an extra medium tree… and we were raring to go!

Look at all that awesome space!

Small horse, Small Rider, Small Saddle!
The only thing, because my boy has an almost abnormally short back, is that the back panel comes right to the edge of where a saddle should be. So before every right I pound back the fluff so that he has time to warm up before any pressure is put on that last rib. However the difference I have seen (AND FELT) in this saddle with my boy astounds me. He’s more willing to do his laterals, he’s picking up his right lead more easily and, now that I’m balanced, he’s more balanced as well. 
If it wouldn’t be super expensive, I’d get someone to recut and shorten those back panels into a more “upswept” style. However since the saddle is all one piece, that's a bit unfeasible at the moment. But for what we do? It’s perfect. Fingers crossed that it continues to fits him as we muscle up for the summer.
A big thanks to Terry and Fit Right Saddle Solutions! Another to Hastilow Saddlery!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Long time: No write!

Well it's been a while since the last post. Mostly because I've been so busy I haven't had a chance to write about everything that's happened!

Over the winter, our routine settles into exercising once or twice a week. We worked on ground work mostly and we have come a long way!

Long lining, we're not pulling near as much, and he's becoming much more steady at the canter. We've also been working on disengaging the hind, laterals and working from both sides on the ground.

Through all this he has had almost a 180 in attitude towards a lot of things. He's becoming calmer, and braver. We're working on the right side a lot, since that's both our weak sides. Hoping we can school cross country this year!

Along with this, we had a saddle fitter out, sold the wintec and got lucky with a used thorowgood jump saddle WHICH I LOVE. Short flaps, short tree... all around amazing to ride in!

It looks tiny! But he has a small back, and I'm a small rider! That's a 17" seat there!

He was amazing during the fitting, which I will go more into in the next post!

We've also made progress with the clippers, I can run them, while on, across his body. He's very unsure, but he has made progress with that. Hoping to bathe him tomorrow, we'll see what we need to work on with that.

All in All, despite minimum work this past winter coming into the spring, we've come a long way!!