Saturday, February 12, 2011

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I can't believe I took the trouble to haul my side saddle out today. The weather was horrible, and my first instinct, upon getting up and not being able to see as far as the garage through the snow, was to just stay in the house and make soup or bread. But horse people are crazy. So...

I made two mistakes today, but one improvement. First, I didn't bother to do any stretching before I left the house which really helped last time. And it was terribly cold, so as soon as I got aside, both my calves and both my arches cramped up. After sitting there for a few minutes and deciding they weren't going to loosen, I had Grey take me back to the mounting block where I shimmied down his left side and did heel lifts on the mounting block until they loosened up.

Secondly, because my horse was filthy today...

Nice, Huh?

Just what you want to put a fancy saddle on.

...I thought it would be a good day to see if I could get any pressure points on the white saddle pad so I left the sticky layer between the horse and the pad out, and I could really tell the difference. Of course, my unorthodox dismount and second mounting didn't help, and the saddle was shifting left.

After last week's successful ride, I trusted the saddle, my horse, and myself a bit more so I didn't immediately panic, but after a few minutes it became evident the saddle needed to be reset. I put it all straight and remounted with a tighter girth and tighter balance strap and everything immediately felt 10 times better and no more shifting. Still, at that point I was starting to wear out, so I never got around to trotting. My horse did treat me to a Bambi-Spraddle spook with a jump to the left which didn't loosen my seat any, but just made me mad and I spent a few minutes astride the saddle making him walk properly shaped circles instead of lolly-gagging, cutting corners and gazing out the back door.

The positive thing I did was leave my right half chap off which gave me a lot more flexibility to my right ankle so I could get my toe pointed down. Due to the cramping hazards, that didn't happen a lot, but I did get my foot pulled back, and my left heel down. Of course, with my right shin more perpendicular, was pulled forward further, and the leaping head didn't feel as perfect as it did last week.

I know it doesn't look like it in the photos, but last week I had two fingers of cantle left, and pulled forward with my shin straight I had almost four which actually put me at a narrower part of the seat which was less comfortable. This saddle has a pretty persistent "sweet spot" that is hard to get out of. First I dropped the stirrup one hole, but with my heel down I not only could get one hand between my thigh and the leaping head, I could get my whole wrist. So I raised it back up. I still felt like I was twisting a bit with my right hip forward, so I kept resetting from an astride position trying to reassure myself that I was square. It seems to help if I drop my right rein, and let my arm hang for a minute.

Very limited photos today because it was so *bleep*ing cold, the batteries were dying in the camera. Despite the fact that I've lost 4 pounds this week, I felt fat and clumsy and stiff, and a bit dizzy and immediately after I dismounted, my right knee started with stabbing pains.
Despite sacrificing the security of the slip pad, there was no dirt at all on the dressage pad. So that either means there are no pressure points or that the experiment was a complete and total failure. I did take the time to arrange the quilted pad, and mark the outline of my saddle in masking tape so I can make a pattern for a pad.

When I removed the saddle, both sides of his back were ruffled a little but that was from me fiddling around and having to reset the saddle, and I don't think was an indication of where most of my weight was.

I drove home through 30 mph winds, drifting snow and sloppy melting roads. Ate a banana for my leg cramps, took an Aleve for my knee and took a nap. I never got any soup or bread made, but my neighbor Trish left us some... I'm not sure what, zucchini bread maybe? which is very good, and now I've blown my diet. Sort of. There's always room in a diet for home made bread. I can't wait for February to be over!

1 comment:

  1. Aah, it'll be right soon enough. The weather'll turn around and you'll turn into a waif so thin you'll blow off your saddle in a strong wind unless Tim lashes you down first. Can't help you with the knees though, except to say that milking cows in a tie barn isn't very friendly to knees !