It has been a while since I have posted anything about riding… mostly because I haven’t been doing much riding!
At least, not in the past week. Let’s recap that before getting to a later then earlier time.
Why I havent been riding: Monday – usually one of the days I give Bentley off. Tuesday – my ah ha moment figuring saddle fit was our issue, probably shouldn’t ride. Wednesday – spend some time putting saddles on and testing pads with Linda. Hm now its too late to get a decent ride in, went to Linda’s to catch up and grab some memory foam to see if it would fit in one pad I have. Thursday & Friday – weather… I didn’t dare hit the roads! Saturday and Sunday – extreme barn work weekend
So this brought us to a full week with no riding and limited turnout. My lesson was rescheduled for last night, and naturally, I expected trouble (and got it!) But I am getting ahead of myself. First I had to stop into the tack store to get a pad to correct my saddle fit. Linda and I had determined that what is happening is the saddle needs more in the back, and slides back and finds a snug spot too far, causing the pommel to rest on his withers or spine (wherever it ends up to moving to!) Linda’s corrector pad with rear shims helped it sit in the correct position and correct the seat. Wonderful! Prepared with this information, I popped into the tack store on the way home.
After at least a half an hour deliberating memory foam vs thinline, and usefulness of other options like sheepskin, shims etc, I settled on this pad: Thinline Trifecta
I had picked out one originally with full sheepskin, and was about the same price as a memory foam adjustable one from Fleeceworks. As I talked more to the salesperson, she explained that the sheepskin was therapeutic ONLY if it contacts the skin. Mostly its on there just for show. Not like we plan on showing hunter or anything where it will make a difference, the easy cleaning of cotton was much more appealing. Also, it ended up being less expensive. While the memory foam also appealed because I wouldn’t have to adjust, the shims were really easy to put in on the thinline and since they were firmer, I felt that adding more or less would do more (since the memory foam would just squish) without adding the bulk of memory foam PLUS sheepskin.
So now to put it to the test: Of course, I expected Bentley to still be saucy when I tacked and mounted. He was at first; the moment I put that foot in the stirrup, he started backing up, with me doing my one footed hop alongside him. I know if it works, it may take a few days, or weeks to have him settle. However, when brought him to the mounting block the second time, he stood a bit quieter (enough for me to notice) and as I got up in the saddle, while he took a full stride ahead at a walk, it wasn’t until I was 95% in the saddle and it was quite an improvement from the trotting away while I cling to his side that he was doing last week. It is possible it had something to do with the pad. My theory is perhaps in the first bad mount, he didn’t get bumped by the saddle and though “oh this isnt as bad as I expected” resulting in him mostly being still. At least to the point we were when we were still improving. I can work with this!
So back to discussing the lesson. Oh boy did he ever have a lot of energy. The moment I asked for the trot, he gave me half bucks, cantering and high head choppy trots. At first I was worried I was wrong about the pad, but I pushed it away realizing it was probably just the lack of riding. After a good 10 minutes of nasty trotting, the switch flipped and he was trotting around magnificently with his invisible bowtie. The pad seemed to not be affecting him, it was just antsy pants. I was really only worried because I have given him time off before (for lameness) and come back and he was wonderful right from the start, but he HAS been working a lot harder these days and is a lot fitter than when he was off before, combined with lack of turnout, so I am chalking it up to that.
We worked on shoulders in and out, something we have never done before. He was starting to get it after about 5 minutes of frustration, but his eager walk was getting in the way. Margie kept telling me to slow him down, but there wasnt much slow… not even really halt, just forward walk, and forward backing (he was behaving, but the hyperness was nowhere near burned off). Of course, we kept lapping the schoolies who were slow as molasses and already knew what they were doing. I dont think they ever need to work at being slow! Anyway, once we had gotten it a few times, we moved up to the trot and working on shoulder in. We didn’t get enough bend to really count it as a shoulder-in but we had some accomplishments that I am proud of!
- Sitting trot – I never do this! So he was very confused at first, and hes so lofty it took me a while to find my seat, but we DID get it eventually and it was wonderful!
- Tiny bit of shoulder in – for the first try even at walk, I was proud he was able to do a little bit at the trot while we were still figuring it and the above out
- Switch from crazy brain to deep though as he tried to figure out what I was asking. The attitude is more important to me than him being perfect!
We did try our canter, and for the first direction, it was wonderful. A little speedy, but not for us… just compared to slowpoke schoolies. I was getting lots of “yes!” from Margie which helped me be a bit more comfortable accepting the fact hes just forward, not running. We had worked a lot in our lesson 2 weeks ago (and before that) about achieving the nice canter, and we both have improved dramatically. A large part of it is just me sitting back and relaxing. We even started to do leg-yielding in the canter (not this lesson, the previous one) and he was on his best behavior, getting the message immediately and doing it better than the schoolies! So all this was influence to our lovely canter last night. However… it didn’t last. When we changed directions, he got back to the point where he would prematurely canter on me. I spent a lot of time and energy on woah and trying to settle him into a nice trot so I could actually ask him to canter. He wasn’t getting the message and we had to walk to let the other riders try cantering (since they had all stopped to watch me and stay out of my way). I was disappointed we had to end the lesson on a bad note, just wasn’t enough time. I am going to have to work on this more, and help him burn off his energy this week.
I am hoping that at some point, I will be able to get him out in the snow and work him through that. Get the energy out without having to go too fast or hard. Cross your fingers that things go smoothly at work this weekend!