Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bareback Odyssey

So far, you may have noticed that I'm always riding Halo bareback. I think I've touched on the reason before - I have three saddles, and not one of them fits her properly. My previous horse was a thoroughbred, so he had a very narrow, high-withered profile as opposed to Halo's mutton-withered roundness.

While I was in Portland, I stopped by Portland Outdoor Store. They usually have massive numbers of saddles on consignment, and this trip was no exception. I fell in love with a Passier close contact saddle and a brown Crosby dressage saddle, but neither was meant to be. They may have fit me, but I was on the lookout for something that would fit Halo.

Amazingly, I came home with a saddle for $25! I doubt it will last me very long, as it's already got a hole in one panel. But the billets and tree are completely sound. It's a no-name all-purpose saddle with a nice wide tree. Despite being hideous, and nothing I can show in, I think it's a good choice for Halo right now. I will be able to trail ride in it with no worries of destroying anything since it's already in such bad shape. Anything she does to it won't matter in the long run. Plus, it's hard to say no to $25 for something that is still sound for work, even in bad condition.

I got the saddle cleaned up last weekend and took it to try out on her. The first two pictures here are of her in the "new" saddle.





It's sitting a little too far forward in these pictures (Halo's downhillness doesn't help), but you can see that she's got plenty of room in the shoulders and clearance over the spine. Below are two similar pictures of Halo in my Crosby close contact saddle (which I dearly love).





You can see that while she still has clearance over the spine, this narrower tree is digging into her shoulders even without the weight of a rider. I also don't like how the channel looks as though it doesn't provide enough room for her spine.

I'll get more pictures of her with the new saddle, girthed up and all, once we've had some more time working with it. I did work her in it last weekend, and for the most part she was good. She's been off work for a couple of weeks, so it took some extra work to get her focused and tuned in to me. After longeing, I decided not to get on her, but to spend some time flapping around with the saddle, leaning weight into the stirrups on both sides, and smacking the panels with the stirrup leathers to accustom her to noise and torque on the saddle. The only thing she didn't take well was me putting my foot in the stirrup and hopping. It caused her some alarm. Of course, since I've only been riding her bareback, I've used the mounting block to get on. Having my foot bump into her elbow was a completely new sensation for her. I'll be spending extra time working on that over the coming weeks until it becomes commonplace. While I prefer to mount with the block in the arena, it's easy to imagine a situation on the trail where I'd need to get on from the ground after falling off. I sure hope that doesn't happen, but I want to be prepared!

2 comments:

Trisha said...

Looks like a good deal for a baby! I had a saddle that didn't fit my ass at all when Bre was a youngun. I sold it as soon as she stopped growing. Bre LOVES her new leaser. She is still trying to lay down when she gets on though.....

Big Red Mare said...

Bre has a blog now. let's see if i stick with it