Friday, 24 February 2017


So, funny thing I am noticing so far with my lessons with a new coach. She is super young, just starting out with the whole coaching thing so I wasn't expecting much, but that was fine because I just wanted access to the jumps. But now we have had two breakthroughs, the first being how to ride Savvy out of her evading behind the bit and now yesterday she got us through a real proper haunches-in! Savvy and I have never been able to do it and she had us getting it on the second try! wtf?

"Carry me mom." or possibly "Why do you do these things to me?!" - Savvy
AND she had me cantering like no big deal (I haven't cantered on her since last October) half way through a lesson and here's the best/weirdest part: When I first asked Savvy to canter she blew up and bucked all over the place, but Coach had zero reaction, like no big deal and just asked me to canter again. I think because she was all 'whatever' about it, then I was too and just tried again and got it and it was great.

Could this mean I am actually coachable? I don't know. It's early days and all...

Funny, that corner was super spooky to her when we were riding, but on her own it is a lovely spot to hang
Yesterday's lesson was #3 of this year. It had been postponed a week because wonderpony had picked up a bit of a viral infection the week before. Her symptoms all quickly improved but she was left with a bit of a cough. I gave her a bit of lunging to see how bad the cough was before deciding to take her to the lesson and she seemed fine. Unfortunately once we got riding at the lesson, her cough was pretty bad and after the little bit of canter it was obvious we would have to just keep at a walk for the remainder of the lesson, hence the quiet, slow work of my nemesis, haunches-in!

It was our first proper ride in the new-to-me Thorowgood all-purpose. What a comfortable saddle! I love how it holds me in the right spot with a lot less effort than my previous saddle. No jumping practise this time but well worth the trailer ride over. Now that I have heard her cough with work, I think she is going to need more time off. Hopefully it will be resolved in a couple of weeks and we can get back to training!

Monday, 13 February 2017

If you try sometimes, you get what you need

But how many saddles do you need?
All of them.

Three horses = seven saddles, thats normal, right?

Most of you are quite familiar with the painful struggle of saddle shopping.

These past few months I have been faced with finding dressage and jump saddles for two horses.

I pretty much set myself up for the impossible -- find dressage and jumping saddles that fit two different horses (one of which is not done growing). But wait, I made it even more impossible -- they had to be under $500 (because this bitch is cheap and seriously, Savvy cost $300 and Shiraz was $350 so saddles being more expensive than the horse hurts my brain).  It has been a struggle but I learned a bit along the way.

Lesson One: Do NOT let the pretty cloud your judgment.

But what about Kieffer, you say? Well, I thought I had found my one true love with Kieffer, but Savvy did not agree. It was just too narrow for my plumpy little arab and she told me so with much shorter strides and an increase in attitude when using this saddle. I may have cried.

Some love stories are just not meant to last...why can't you be wider?! :'(

Lesson Two: Do NOT let other people tell you what you should get.

For the jumping saddle, I decided to go to an actual store and get something brand new. The girl convinced me I needed a size 16, even though I was kinda sure 17 was suitable. Sure enough that damn saddle is too small. Well at least my kids have a new saddle? Yaayy...

Lesson Three: Patience, and when that runs out, pure shitfaced luck. And if you have neither of the two, then more money.

Many fails later plus a bit of dumb luck I have found my saddles! (Don't even be all, you could have had a bigger budget if you hadn't wasted your money on the fails. I don't listen to that kind of common sense.)

Drum roll:

#1 - Dressage saddle found:
generic but comfortable.. :'( I miss you Kieffer! 
This was a such a freak find. I was not even 'really' saddle shopping at that particular moment. It was on a facebook group called "Saddles Under $600...In Canada...". These are my people.

It was $250 plus shipping. It needs some love but is sound and functional. Savvy likes it and I find it pretty comfortable. For the win, it also fits Shiraz.

#2 - All purpose saddle found:

It is a Thorowgood wide with changable gullet system. Test riding this saddle I was really trying to hide my excitement as I rode in it because I really wanted to talk the seller down in price. It just felt so wonderful. It was easy to two-point in (thanks Emma for that tip!) and just put me in the right spot without any effort. I also am a huge fan of the fabric that holds me better in a spook than leather ever would.

So function has won the day over form here. No fancy names or stunning good looks, but both horses are liking these choices and I am about as happy as I can be on my budget.

I am ecstatic to be done with this. So anyone looking for a narrow Kieffer dressage saddle?

Friday, 3 February 2017

Getting to work

Having my horses at home in my backyard is something I am very grateful for, but the trade off is being surrounded by heaps of snow and very cold temperatures with no where to ride right now.

 Trailering out may be a hassle but all is forgiven once I enter the beautiful heated beast of an arena I have at my disposal!

 All 110 x 220 heated arena to ourselves...heaven! and Savvy approves. 

I headed over for lesson #2 of 2017 and made sure not to overdo the warmup and get Savvy too hot for my main purpose of this whole endeavour - jumping!

As a side note, Savvy's puncture wound from Christmas is finally healed! You can see the black mark on her neck where the hair has not grown back yet, but the wound itself is completely gone.
The lesson started out with poles, so many poles.

We began with trot extensions and compressions over the two brown poles and added in the red poles once I had started to get her more adjustable. That red trot line was such a workout for both me and Savvy because we are so out of shape, but man this pony has springs!

Next we did brown to blue, focusing on good turns, straightness and pushing her to a lengthened trot through the blue without rushing. This was to set us up for 'forward' later on when the second last blue pole would become a cross rail.

No jumping media, but by the end Savvy was offering some very jump-like movements over this!
I had a bit of a breakthrough in this lesson regarding Savvy's strong urge to hide behind the bit. I have struggled with this, but had some success in this lesson with focusing more on leg and seat rather than what I do with contact. Before I think I was throwing away the contact in reaction to her evading, but focusing on her body instead helped me push her back out onto the contact. She is just so sensitive it is hard to keep in any steady sort of frame or pace. It seems every little thing, be it me or environment, affects her and she is the opposite of straight all. the. time. For both Savvy and myself, our biggest obstacles are our brains--we are both over-thinking everything.

The jumping itself was so fun. She was being forward and energetic and even offered up a couple of 'real' jumps rather than step-overs. Those took me by surprise and I ended up grabbing mane.

The take-home for this is doable even in the snow--even though I cannot do riding trot work, I can lunge Savvy over poles and start rebuilding her muscles. Now I just have to shovel out my poles...

Anyone have interesting pole work ideas? It looks like this will be my focus for the next little bit and don't want it to get too tedious.