Sunday, May 11, 2014

Saddle Fitting Purgatory

We haven't killed each other yet. In fact things are going pretty darn well with both the crossties and training. I've had two lessons with J where we worked with Katai now and I've been extremely proud of my pony. The gaps in training that she's found are things that I guess I knew I was being lazy about and just needed a third party to remind me of. One of those is that Katai is horrible, and has been horrible, about standing still. Trying to do anything like tighten a girth, or adjust a bridle is almost impossible and frustrating and while I tried for awhile to correct that I think I finally just sort of gave up on it. I've been reinforcing that she needs to STAND still now though and it is getting better.

In our first lesson we worked on leading as a step towards properly lunging which is something I've never been taught. I just copied what I saw people doing when they lunged their horse and eventually figured it out through trial and error. J had me start by leading, while facing out, Katai around the track of the arena. Every time she tried to budge her shoulder in or leave the track she got a correction and as long as she was walking nicely on the track we left her alone. As J mentioned several times she is extremely smart and figured it out pretty quick so at my next lesson we progressed to lunging her with sidereins. Again I was so proud of my pony! J was expecting to have trouble with her but she was a little saint and did it just like I'd taught her to listening to voice commands and our body positioning.

Other than the fact that I really did need to learn this and have already seen differences in Katai since J started teaching me how to work with her correctly, I haven't been riding because J pronounced both of my saddles "hopeless, don't even try to ride in them. Put them up for sale immediately." I was pretty sure that was going to be the case so I was prepared but what I wasn't prepared for was that she said I needed to start looking at close contact saddles. It was honestly kind of a painfull thing for me to hear. I LIKE dressage saddles. They are comfortable and put you in the correct place for dressage. However, I have spent more of my time riding in a close contact saddle than a dressage saddle and I've actually been wanting one again for going out on hacks since I like to be able to get off of my horse's back when cantering and like being able to vary my position more than you can in a dressage saddle. I didn't want to have one as my main saddle. The more I thought about it though the more I realized that I'm not only lucky to have an instructor that puts Katai's comfort above all else but that she is comfortable and flexible enough to go with a close contact when a dressage saddle isn't working. Mostly I was happy to finally have someone tell me what I needed so that it wouldn't all be on my shoulders and I was looking forward to finally being out a saddle fitting purgatory.

I am so lucky to have a great local tack shop that's only about 15 minutes away from my house that has an excellent saddle trial program as well as TONS of saddles! Over the past couple of days I picked up and tried over 8 saddles to finally end up with these.

The dressage saddle at the end is one of mine that is for sale but the other three are a Collegiate Event, a Beval, and an Albion. They will be coming with to my lesson on Thursday for saddle tryouts with J. It is really very odd to see all those CCs and APs in my apartment when its normally all dressage saddles. We are going to be stylin too with our pink lined black bridle, black stirrup leathers, black stirrups and brown saddle :-)

I've riden her now in both the Albion, on Saturday, and the Beval, on Sunday, and while I prefer the Beval I do really like both of them. It is so weird to be riding in a CC again though! 

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