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Why We Need Friends

A friend of mine, like good friends do, helped me put things into perspective recently. It isn’t shocking to anyone that I am type A and a perfectionist. Good enough…well isn’t.

Thinking back I had a surgical attending tell me during a case in residency one day “Sara, the enemy of good is better.” A saying that I have to remind myself of constantly in life.

Still can;t figure out how to make the pictures smaller when done on my phone versus ta desktop.

While my friend was out massaging the orange beast’s butt (his second favorite thing in life) I lamented about the saddle shopping experience. My issue? What if the next saddle fits better? Makes me more secure? Places me in a better position? There are so many brands and even more models within a brand – how do you choose? What if I settle for A but should have gotten B?

I’ve now had three different fitters out with four brands: Custom, Smith Worthington, Prestige and Stubben. I also sat in a Black Country Wexford that I took on trial from the local tack shop and fell in love with. Too bad it was a size too narrow for him and too big for me or I would have bought it.

Being me, I began researching Black Country and got it in my head that although the Wexford fit great and I loved it, well maybe the Quantum would be even better or the Richocet or…..

And that brings me back around to my friend. We don’t manage horses the same. She prefers barefoot, bitless and treeless and I’m more of a “if it works, do it” sort. I was talking to her about saddle shopping fully expecting her to tell me to go treeless when instead she looked at me and said “you buy the best fitting saddle your budget can afford. End of story.”

While that is a simple statement it hit me pretty hard because the truth is that good enough has to be good enough. I can’t afford a $6,000 custom made saddle nor do I really want one while his existence here remains questionable.

I found a saddle I really liked. It was so secure and comfortable and allowed me to work him through his temper tantrum without getting tense or grabby. I could ride trails and hunter paces and feel confident. So why not pull the trigger and buy it? Why fuss with other models thinking maybe the next would be even better? Perhaps the Quantum would fit a bit better. Or the Richocet may make me secure without so much saddle under me. But you know what? Maybe they won’t and I really liked the Wexford. A lot.

Sometimes good enough is good enough.

The enemy of good is better.

So that’s it. I’m done with saddle shopping in a sense. I know what I want. I want a Black Country Wexford jump saddle in 17″ Wide.

No more fitting fees. No more shipping costs. Now to find one in good condition for a good price and get back to riding my orange beast. If anyone knows of one for sale $2000 or under please let me know! The big guy needs his job back before he goes totally feral on me.

I’ve joined every facebook group I can find including the UK based Second Hand Black Country page. I emailed Trumbull Mountain to put a bug in their ear though the tend to run $500 more than elsewhere. I put out ISO ads. I’m stalking Pelham saddlery (they do have a 17″ Wide Quantum used in great condition for a good price but it isn’t the Wexford and I don’t feel like spending the $110 shipping fee to try it), Maryland Tack Exchange and the Aiken used tack store. Hopefully something pops up soon. 

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5th Annual Thanksgiving Waterfall Hunt

Ok, folks…I can’t figure out this new editor when I write on my phone. I can’t seem to get the pictures to be anything other than billboard size. Sorry. 

Five years ago I was handed a book containing fifty waterfalls in SC and GA. This spurred a tradition that all three of us look forward to every year.

On Thanksgiving morning we pack up the car, load all three humans and whatever canines are with us and head out to find the next waterfall.

The trickiest part is finding the trail head as the book gives directions from a road intersection. So far we have stuck to the falls found in the Walhalla area due to proximity to us (just over an hour) and length of hike (under 4 miles) to ensure that we get to enjoy it and make it home for dinner.

This year I chose Yellow Branch Falls which boasted a three dimensional “Mayan city-esque ” feel. Our family had dwindled to five of us this year and I had convinced my mom that cooking for three days for five people was over kill and to go out to eat this year instead. This freed her up in the morning and she got to come hiking with us.

The trail head was easy to find having been in the area in the past and the parking lot was empty when we arrived. By the time we left there were eighteen cars! Being an early bird has advantages.

The morning dawned brisk in the upper 30s, but there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and I knew it would warm up with the sun. The sky was that brilliant deep blue that is only seen in the fall and I spent as much time looking up as I did at the trail.

The trail was really fun with multiple creek crossings, foot bridges and plenty of technicality to tire us all out. It ended up being closer to four miles and I was so proud of how Wyatt handled it all.

The dogs remained on leash for the majority of the hike. I was shocked Dusty let Waggy come. We are still trying to figure out what brace, if any, will work for her dead leg and I thought for sure he would leave her behind. She happily kept up though and as we neared the falls and the trail grew very narrow and steep, we let the pups off and both dogs handled the terrain without issue.

After climbing and descending, twisting and turning for nearly an hour the trail came to a dead end at Yellow Branch Falls. Wyatt was in the lead and he let out a very excited “I found it!” that echoed down the valley.

The dogs were off leash at this point and both plowed into the icy water to play and drink. Wyatt wasn’t far behind them.

We learned a long time ago to pack a towel and full change of clothes as there is no way Wyatt is going to be kept from playing in the water no matter the temperature. He ended up soaked, shivering and happy before we changed and headed back towards the truck.

I was shocked at how busy the trail was on our way back. We passed an almost constant stream of hikers headed towards the falls and I’m so glad we are early morning people. (I’m typing this on my phone at 6:15 am Saturday morning).

I think we have one fall left to see in the Walhalla area before moving to those at the SC/NC border.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! This tradition has been so much fun from the planing of which one to the execution to looking back and watching Wyatt grown up.

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War Horse Turned Cuddle Bug

Gem has been in my life for almost 9 years now. It has been a long ride that flew by in a blink of an eye. I’ve documented her transformation as a riding horse ad nauseum on here, which was impressive in and of itself. What I find even more impressive though is her change in character since retirement. 

My beautiful Gemmie

Gem has always been a very aloof, independent workmanlike mare. She had her job under saddle, get us down the trail safely, and I had mine, pick the pace and don’t miss ribbons. Our partnership worked out pretty well in endurance. I learned to stop micromanaging her and she learned to listen to my directions. Riding with others in the sport was always interesting as they never failed to mention how Gem would pick her way down the trail avoiding ditches, holes and rocks all on her own while I watched for ribbons, major obstacles and slowed or quickened the pace as the trail allowed. I refused to tell Gem where to place her feet. That was her job. If I had to watch the trail for everything I’d be at risk for missing the ribbons. Gem knew this and on the occasions I forgot this rule and began nit picking our way down the trail she would put a stop to it quickly.

She also learned to pee in the pasture when she saw me coming with a halter, eat  and drink at every opportunity and be prepared for any length of adventure from a quick speedy 5 mile run to a literal all day experience. She came ready for work no matter what the job was. 

What she wasn’t was overly friendly. She tolerated my grooming regimen including a big neck hug when I switched from her left to right side. She stood still and sucked up spa days. She never ran from me in the pasture as she knew that was a line to never cross, but she also refused to meet me either. If I wanted to ride, I had to get her myself. She expected me to put in my share of the work at all times.

In fact, it was almost like a business partnership.

Tolerating bath day

Then I retired her in the spring. At first she was skeptical. Was this a vacation like so many times in the past? As the months have gone by and with the addition of H’Appy as the horse the halter snags and who gets loaded in the trailer for adventures, it has sunk into her that her time for that is over. Her new job is to eat, take sunny naps and enjoy life. 

With this has come a significant change in my favorite bay mare. I can no longer describe her as aloof or workmanlike. She is now friendly nearly down right snuggly. 

Who me??

She greets me with a nicker when I’m out in the yard beckoning for me to enter the pasture and give her scratches. She comes to the gate every night when I yell out “Gemmie! Dinner!” Even the promise of food in the past would not make her budge. She demands her itchy spots scratched before she will leave the stall after eating and will stand ground tied in the aisle for her grooming with eyes half closed and bottom lip drooping. 

While she still high tails it when the trailer gets hooked up, when I enter the pasture with a halter she stares at me and then walks towards me these days. Which is nice because butt head is so jealous that it brings him over. When I do slip her halter on to bring her in at non food times, typically for the farrier or when it was going to rain and be cold non stop for days on end, she shoves her head in the halter herself. Wyatt leads her in/out of the pasture and barn by himself regularly and she walks with careful steps and a slow pace never pushing ahead or spooking at even the scariest piece if wood.

Wyatt and Gemmie…my two hearts

Was she a miserable working horse? No. She enjoyed the trail and the adventures. But she had a contract it seemed and stuck to it. She was there for the work and put up with the rest like a day job you mostly enjoy except for that one co worker who talks non stop about their vegan diet and cross fit routine. I loved her then and I love her now. I’m glad I got the chance to retire her at home so she can relax and enjoy the next ten years eating grass, getting loved on and taking long naps in the sunshine.

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Burning Money. Saddle Fit 2.0

Okay…anyone else having issues with the new wordpress editor??? Pictures are coming in either super big or super tiny and not where I want them. Frustrating. Sorry for any weirdness in this post as I try to figure this out. 

Well, there is $230 I’ll never see again. Plus I lost my temper which is something I try to avoid doing and in general I am pretty good at fuming silently to myself. Of course the moment I snapped was the moment Bette, who had so kindly invited me, happened to pull in and walk up. Sorry, Bette. My limit had been reached.

H’Appy hasn’t been too many places with me and I was pretty nervous about how he would behave. I warned both the fitter and the lovely woman in charge of organizing this that he can be interesting in new places and asked if I could come early. I was the first appointment of the day and was given the ok. We pulled in about 40 minutes early and I unloaded H’Appy to walk him around the facility and settle in.

Easy big fella

Turns out I needn’t have worried. He was on his best behavior and beyond some angry grazing he never made a peep, pulled on the lead rope or acted a fool. I was really, really proud of my big orange beast. He has come a long way from the anxiety ridden mess that I brought home. 

When it was time for the fitting, I walked him over and introduced ourselves. I had had a lengthy conversation several days prior with the fitter’s wife and went over my saddle fit concerns, his size and background, my background and budget. They knew he went in a wide tree in other brands and I was looking for a close contact/jump saddle in a 17-17.5″ seat. When we walked up I told the fitter that H’Appy gets nervous around new people and asked him to take it slow before poking or prodding him. I filled him in on the history since May, the lameness eval and the fact that his current saddle is too narrow down his spine putting pressure on the spine and creating back pain. I showed him the area of concern as well. 

Seriously, calm down!

Well, my idea and his idea of slow were very different and before either of us knew it he was digging his fingers into the spot I told him was sore. Surprise! H’Appy about flew out of his skin and any calm he had before that was out the window. The guy turned to me and told me I needed to put him on a muscle relaxer. I blinked and stared blankly not knowing really how to respond to this.

He moved on commenting “I don’t think your horse trusts me” as H’Appy bent like a pretzel trying to keep his eye on this strange man who was determined to shove his fingers in all his sore spots. Once he poked his other side he commented again about putting him on a muscle relaxer to which I responded that my vet said no drugs were needed, had prescribed massage which I got done (of note the massage lady who took her time found soreness in his right shoulder stemming from his foot pain but barely anything in the back) and a new saddle which was why I was there. No medicines thank you.

I mean really…

The fitter moved on to use his super cool measuring stick and make a tracing of his back at the gullet area. He measured him as an extra, extra (yup two extras) wide in the brands he carried and then told me that he only had medium trees with him. I stared. At this point my patience was about up with this process. If he didn’t have any wide trees he should have told me that on the phone so I knew ahead of time that I wouldn’t be riding. In fact, had he told me he didn’t have anything wider than a medium I would have ridden with the potential new trainer and saved the hour trip and money. But there I was so I stomped off to hand H’Appy over to Dusty so I could look at the saddles he had.

He carries Smith Worthington and Prestige and pulled several out for me to look at and sit in on a saddle stand. Only one fit my needs. One was an AP that he was fond of but I told him I don’t want an AP saddle and the others didn’t fit me at all. The issue was that it was too narrow to go on my horse. So quite pointless really as we all know the fit in motion can be very different than on a stand. 

It was a pretty saddle though. Grippy, soft leather, and was comfortable enough without stirrups or a horse underneath it

He tried to pressure me into buying it. He had a whole talk about how the tree can be widened and the flocking redone and while I don’t question his knowledge or ability there, why on earth would I buy a saddle I never got to try on my horse? How does that make sense?

Then he dropped the bomb that he doesn’t sell any saddles he physically has and it would be 8-10 weeks before I could get anything. What the actual heck?!? I had told him very clearly on the phone that I needed a saddle now. Why not inform me of this little fact before?

Right at this moment I was done. I knew I would need to pay for this and had gotten nothing of use from my afternoon. I explained to him very pointedly that I would not order a saddle I haven’t ridden in and that is when Bette walked up while he mentioned for the fourth time about needing to use a muscle relaxer except now he decided to inform me that “it will help his brain” and questioned the need to find a new vet because obviously my vet was terrible for not putting him on drugs. 

And because my blood pressure is now up again, here is a picture of my love with vampire teeth. I need to calm down.

I lost it. Completely lost it. First, no a muscle relaxer has no effect on the brain which is not a muscle. Some can have a sedative effect but there is no mental benefit from a muscle relaxer. Second, you are not a vet. I have already told you I’m not going to drug my horse and either talk to me about a saddle or nothing at all. I was mean. I was bitchy. I was done.

I walked back to the truck seeing flames, turned around to grab my riding equipment that I didn’t get to use and Bette walked back to the trailer with me to meet H’Appy. We chatted a bit and then I went home. On the way home, while Dusty drove, I began a fevered search online of back pain symptoms, diagnoses and treatments. H’Appy had never shown so much reaction to back palpation before but if he was that painful it could account for his demeanor under saddle. I ran that rabbit hole during the hour drive home. 

Once home I palpated the crap out of his back the way I was taught by my vet. Start at the withers and using the meaty part of your fingers, slowly and firmly slide down the length of the back towards the butt looking for a reaction. I did it three times pressing down as hard as I could. Nothing. No flinch. No ear flick in my direction. No reaction whatsoever.  Let me repeat that. NO REACTION WHATSOEVER. 

Here is a hint. Any horse no matter how good they feel can react to finger tips and nails dug into a single spot without warning.

Sigh.

No pain. No reaction.

All is not lost though! Last Tuesday I ran into the local tack shop to get a new blanket for Gem. Hers is nearing 7 years and has never been waterproofed since purchase and the heavy rain (we ended up with just over 5″ Monday-Thursday last week) made me worry it wouldn’t be good enough. Anyway. There sat a gorgeous Black Country Wexford saddle on consignment in my budget. It looked a bit narrow but I took it out on trial because why not?. I rode in it Friday and my butt sang the songs of the heavens. Well, mostly. It was a bit big for me and a size narrow for him (it was a medium wide) but I did like it. The thigh rolls kept me so secure I felt like he could have bucked to the moon and I would have stayed on.

The Wexford is a deep seated close contact built to feel extra secure and is very close to an all purpose. I’ve scoured the internet looking for reviews and read everything from “too bulky, no feel of the horse” to “I ride to the 1* level in it on xc and stadium and love it”. I was a bit worried about how much saddle there is. It is billed as perfect for the novice jumper, fox hunter or any one who wants a arm chair feel. Hmmm…not sure I want an arm chair feel in my saddle. I did find out that they make a Ricochet model that uses the Wexford tree and a traditional jump seat that is more low profile and I’d like to try that as well before deciding. There is a Black Country dealer in Aiken, but she charges $200 + travel fees for a fitting and I am already $300 in the whole with useless fittings now. I’m going to contact Trumbull Mountain and see if they can offer suggestions over the phone/internet and try out a few models through them for minimal shipping costs since I already have a good feel for what I need – 17″ (hurray for half sizes!)for me and wide for lard ass. If I was ordering custom made, I’d go the dealer route but I can’t afford that so will need to be looking for a close enough fit in a used saddle.

 

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The Lesson That Went Awry

I spent all weekend thinking about this, texted both Emma and Michelle, and annoyed the hubby to no end. Friday was not good. The lesson started off bad and got worse until finally I called it quits much to the relief of all three of us. In fact, by the end I felt like I owed H’Appy an apology for the preceding 45 minutes of agony and that is never a good way to feel.

Contemplating his life

I probably shouldn’t have even had the lesson. It was 45F and had rained all day which meant that the horses were kept inside. The  rain stopped right before the lesson and I could tell even in the cross ties that H’Appy was feeling good in a very “I have no intentions of behaving” sort of way. He flung his head in the aisle, tried to eat the cross ties and was a bear to hold still long enough to bridle. The exact opposite of the horse I had on Tuesday. I commented to Trainer that this was going to be interesting and laughed. She looked very skeptical about the whole thing.

Eating and then throwing his brush. The big man had some major ADHD going on

And the lesson proceeded to be exactly as I thought it would. He was up. He was nervous over nothing in particular except the fact that he was finally outside again and was feeling excess energy. I could almost feel the energy radiating off of him. He pranced, he jigged, he tried to canter instead of trot, he called out for his friends (who completely ignored him per usual) and when things didn’t go his way he threw down a temper tantrum that would have made my 5 year old son proud. You know what though? I wasn’t scared and I wasn’t caving. I rode out his head shaking and when that didn’t work he curled his chin to his chest and I lost all neck in front of me. I rode that out as well. When he refused to bend, I asked again. Was I completely in control of all 4 feet at all times? Heck, no, but I also never felt in danger or careening out of control. He has very, very good brakes and we were fine.

Waggy makes room to snuggle even when none exists. I tried telling her this spot was taken, but she wouldn’t listen

All this behavior was a combination of excess energy and a deep desire on his part to avoid all work at all times. It was predictable in a way. Trotting in a nicely balanced rhythm is hard. Shaking your head and evading the bit is not. Calmly transitioning is hard. Hurling yourself upward and scooting off is not. And when that all fails, pull out the head dragging on the ground maneuver and western pleasure shuffle. When I ask for a trot, try flailing. When I collect with a half halt, screech to a full halt.

All basic green, rusty, lazy, ex lesson horse behaviors.

With 4 days of lows 40s and rain in the forecast, I sent the Hubby to buy H’Appy a blanket. He chose hedgehogs. It actually looks really good on him with the navy, bright blue and orange. 

And I was fine with it. Not happy, ecstatic this is the best ride ever, fine with it. But honestly, I accepted his challenge and was game to work with him to find what would help and oddly excited for my future with him as I know there is an amazing, fun horse locked inside six months of lameness induced time off and a sour attitude about returning to the life of an ammy horse.

Except Trainer did not agree and was very decidedly not on board with working through this. She put us on a 20 m circle of death which worked about as good as you would think. He wasn’t capable of giving me a balanced rhythmic 20 m circle and certainly not 100 of them. Maybe he should have been, but he wasn’t. Not with me in the irons on that day. With every passing circuit all three of us grew more and more frustrated yet nothing else was offered up in its place. Had I been riding alone I would have used the entire arena, let him canter to burn excess energy, practiced a ton of transitions and probably used ground poles to keep his busy bee brain active.

Echo deciding if she wants to pounce on the bed from the second story loft. She decided it was not a good idea and instead cried pitifully for me to come get her never mind she knew where the stair were since she went up them to get there. I got outof my warm, cozy bed and got her. 

When it was obvious to all of use that this lesson was not going anywhere useful, we had a talk. She recommended looking into depo to calm him down or selling him, neither of which I’m going to do. I talked at length with her regarding pro rides and boot camps and how much they could benefit a horse like him who isn’t intrinsically mean, just lazy and would rather be a little wicked than work. She doesn’t offer either of those things.

As she pulled away I had a bit of a sinking feeling. I love Trainer. I love all she has to offer regarding rider position, effective use of the aides and horse management. I love all she has given me and taught me. I love how supportive she is, how she knows when to push me versus give me room and how she helped me cross over from endurance to whatever it is I am playing at now. I hope to ride with her again in the future, but for now both of us agree that this is not going to work.

Flat out snoozing before I got on him Sunday for the fitting

I have reached out to a local trainer who came highly recommended by several people I know. I actually did a xc school there with H’Appy the second week I had him and drooled over the facility. It even has a covered arena so I can ride in the rain! I had initially set up an evaluation ride for this Sunday but it felt funny and I realized that it was the exact same time as the saddle fitting, so I had to reschedule. We are planning on the weekend of Thanksgiving to do an initial meet, ride and discussion to see what her plan would be. I’m hopeful this will work out, but am being guarded. Certain teaching styles do not sit well with me, so I’m having an open mind going in but not putting all my eggs in this basket. There are other trainers out there that could work as well if this one doesn’t work out.

I did some internet stalking to see what she has out there. I mean, it would be fantastic to ride with a 4* eventer but I’m doing single 2′ fences at the trot with the big guy. I don’t need to be the remedial student of the bunch that they think is a waste of time. I was super happy to see that she put out a very excited post about a student of hers tackling their first amoeba level event and laying down good rounds. It gives me hope.

A lot of changes to come for Team H’Appy Pants!

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Saddle Fitting Experience

So much happened this weekend that I want to write about. I’m conniving some exciting plans for the near future  and I need to really need to write about the lesson that went very awry on Friday, but have to put more thought into how I want to do that. Instead I am jumping forward to the saddle fitting experience I had on Sunday.

I had the Custom Saddlery rep out. She is local to me which is a plus and was easy to talk to/schedule with. I’m trying to go about this saddle shopping ordeal with the least amount of money waste as possible. With Gem I did the whole trial and error method which seemed like a good idea at the time, but ended up costing me thousands in trial fees and shipping costs. This time around I am trying out the saddle fitter route.

She came fully loaded too

After the debacle that was Friday, I wanted to hop on him and warm him up a bit before she came. The last thing I needed was a bronc under me while trying to evaluate if the saddle fit him or not. He came out fairly well only melting down one time when he noticed Gem and Pete grazing just outside the arena fence. I got his head back in the game quickly though I was curious how he would handle getting tacked back up and working again and again and again.

Skeptical pony wondering what horrors this white van was bringing. Side note: I need to do something with his mane.

What surprised me the most was that she didn’t take a single measurement of him or me. She looked at him, palpated his back and then went to the van and pulled out six saddles. I had told her I rode in a 17.5″, but she didn’t know if that was the right size for me or not. In fact, we didn’t even really talk about my goals, level of experience or his training. I told her I wanted a jump saddle and that he currently went in a wide Kieffer AP.

To her credit, I think some of this was because the trees in her saddles can be adjusted with her special machine to fit any size, so it really didn’t matter what his size was as she could easily modify any of her saddles to fit him. Still, it was a little odd to see a fitter just throw saddles on him and say “yep, looks good!”.

Not sure if he likes this new game or not. He ended up working for a good 90 minutes which is a lot more than typical right now

Anyway, I ended up trying six saddles: two Jeffries, an AP and an event, and four Custom, all jump. It was nice to sit in a variety of flap configurations, seat styles and leather types to get a feel for what I like.

H’Appy for his part was holding his crap together as best as he could given the fact that we kept tacking him back up and heading off to w/t/c and tackle a cross rail. I made the nearly fatal mistake of using the Wintec Chafeless girth which is 2″ longer and fit a bit better with the shorter billets on her saddles. I very quickly remembered why I no longer use this on him. He hates it. Deep in his soul hates it. I hopped off and changed out the girth to his fuzzy fleece one which appeased him some. Of note, when I tried the event saddle with long billets I borrowed her short leather girth and that made him very happy. I’m telling you this pain in the butt beast has expensive ass taste.

Of the six saddles I tried, two I ruled out before even asking him to move on. I sat weird in them and just plain hated them. One he ruled out without question even with the happy girth. That left three remaining, one I didn’t like the super flat seat on and two I gave a second go around in to compare.

Jeffries event. The seat was super comfy and grippy. Ignoring the saddle, look at how shiny he is becoming!

The Jeffries event saddle was a nice fit for him, he moved out really well in it and I sat pretty ok. I liked the single flap design (different than a monoflap apparently although right now I can’t recall all the details on how it is different) and the large knee roll. The flap was a bit too forward for what I need and I found the calf block to be restricting on the flat. Not surprising since it is built to go cross country in a more forward seat position. Lovely saddle, just not what I need.

My matching game was on point. Damn if the guy doesn’t look great in blue. This is the Monte Carlo.

That left the Custom Monte Carlo close contact. I rode in it twice and it was my favorite of the bunch. If you look closely you can see pretty blue piping. I was a bit worried the +2 forward flap would be too forward and I am still iffy on that, but my leg hung effortlessly and when he decided to buck a little because someone had to pee but refused to do so in the arena, I felt secure enough. The seat felt a bit roomier than I would like and kind of slippery, but she assured me it would break in.

I was waffling quite a lot. It fit him well, but honestly he is a really easy horse to fit. He has plenty of real estate, a standard shaped back with well defined shoulders that keeps the saddle back plus he has lower withers. Seriously, I think most saddles as long as they are wide enough will fit him which is such a difference from my extremely hard to fit Gemmie.

The fitter was hard to get info out of. I know she doesn’t want me to go looking for used but I did pay for the fitting and deserve to know the findings.  Eventually I got that she had him at 27 cm, 17.5” seat, 14” flaps and 2” forward flap.

The saddle I tried was a well used two year old demo and while it was reduced in price it was still a bit of a shock when she told me the price. For that much money (think double my planned budget) my butt better be singing and I better never come out of it. I was about to tell her no thanks when she mentioned the 10 day free trial. Since she lives close by it wouldn’t even cost me shipping to return. I figured taking it on and riding in it for a while wouldn’t be terrible. If I did decide I loved it I could start a search for a used version or if I still wasn’t in love I’d know for sure to move on.

When she left I had a not bad but not wonderful fuzzy feeling either. Like, all she did was slap a bunch of saddles on his back and have me ride in them. No real input otherwise unless I dragged it out of her and honestly who knows if a smaller seat size would have been better, she never even mentioned it and went off the 17.5″ I told her I typically ride in. I’m honestly not even sure it was worth the $95 it cost to have her out, but I will say that she was very patient with his shenanigans and my own wimpy refusal to canter or jump until I had his focus at least somewhat on me instead of firmly up his own butt.

I have another fitting this Sunday with Bette, thanks for the invite!!!!, with a totally different line of saddles that I am excited to try. I will need to apologize profusely in advance for his behavior. I have zero idea how he will be off property surrounded by other horses and  rain is in the forecast today through Thursday so no riding will be happening. Which sucks. But oh well. As long as he stays in the arena and I can test some things out I’ll be happy. Well, mostly happy. Happier if I end up with a saddle I love and can move forward with my diabolical plan to make him a better behaved steed.

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Life Update and October Volunteer Winner

Yeah…this is a bit late. Sorry! Life is ramping up here towards the end of the year. Deductible season is upon us and as a surgeon that means cramming in so many surgeries that my head blurs together. In the last two weeks I have scheduled 12 surgeries all needing done by the end of the year. As of right now, I’m full. No more available time. Of course, that now means I have to get creative in added cases before and/or after office hours. Folks, be nice to your surgeons and if you know you have a procedure you would like done before your deductible restarts, contact them early!

Anyway…my saddle fit/lesson for today got rescheduled due to nasty, nasty rainy weather. Honestly, I was still game but something about getting all those pretty new saddles soaked during a fitting with someone who may not even purchase one was a bit off putting to the fitter. Go figure. She is coming to my house on Sunday instead. Unfortunately Trainer won’t be available but such is life. This fitting is a now or in two months sort of thing so now it is.

Farrier came out on Wednesday while I was at work and did the ponies. He was very impressed with how much hoof Doofus was able to grow with shoes on and is hopeful that he can graduate out of the pads in another cycle or two. My pocket book is too. Going form $60 trims every 8 weeks for the Dynamic Duo to $245 trim +shoes every 5 weeks for the Tiresome Trio is a bit of a sticker shock. Anything for the Big Orange Beast though.

I didn’t get to ride last night due to rain, but it looks to be tailing off around dinner time today so I hope to hop on still tonight. While my arena footing is awful, it remains firm even under water so I can ride in all weather on it so big guy won’t get out of work that easy. He will get tomorrow off and then have the fitting on Sunday. Hopefully I can get back in for a lesson sometime next week.

On to other things. You all stepped up to the plate again in October with 65 hours volunteered. Thank you to everyone!

October was a random drawing month and those involved include:

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Using my handy dandy online random name picker, the winner is:

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Sarah (from Three Chestnuts) please send me your mailing address at agemofahore at gemail dot com and I will get your prize out to you.

What did you win?

As daylight savings time has ended and it is now dark at lunch time, I figured you may want a head lamp to light your steps as you take care of your ponies at home. I found it on clearance at Riding Warehouse, so my color selection is limited to red, orange and green. Unless you feel very strongly against my favorite color, red, that is what you will be getting. (Honestly though, if you want orange or green instead let me know).

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PC: riding Warehouse website

November is the final random drawing so even you you work for one single hour, you have an equal shot at winning before the year is out.