Thursday, July 27, 2023

saddle fitting

My saddle fitting saga continues. Originally I had Miles in the Solstice I used for Major (which I love, love love!), but it left white marks under the stirrup bars. Too narrow on meaty shoulders? I had it reflocked…and he hated it even more!

So I tried my old standby Wintec 2000. I put in the widest gullet…nope, too pinchy on wide shouldered Miles. Wintec endurance same problem, and also too long. 

How about my almost new Freeform dressage? Miles likes it, I hate it, feels like I'm perched. And I don't even have the added panels installed.

what saddle will work?

I had liked the standard Freeform I tried a long time ago so I found an inexpensive one to try. A few times around the arena, felt semi-secure (though I'm really missing some knee rolls), so let's hit the trail! Once I got used to the treeless thing (I think I had to re-learn how to ride!) it was OK. Not great, but OK. I've been using it for about six months. But Miles didn't seem to like it. Didn't move out very well, sometimes a sore back. And this is with a couple different tests of good treeless saddle pads.

Five saddles and three nice saddle pads…one horse
I'd exhausted my saddle collection (please don't count, yes, that is one horse and five saddles) so I had an independent saddle fitter out. She suggested a hoop tree (and losing weight, which Miles is working on through diet and more riding which I can't do without a saddle that fits, arghh!). I tried an Ideal saddle, super comfy, but would rather not order a new one (used are hard to find) until we get in a little better shape at least. I borrowed a Duett Tempo, size 34, from the local used saddle shop. (Of course I used to have a Duett Tango 38 for Q, the mare I leased, and I sold it, it's all quite comical).

Ideal TT saddle seemed very nice

The 34 was too small but saddle fitter noted that she had a used Duett Rondo 36 that she had not brought that time, that I could trial. She delivered it the next week and evaluated it on Miles. It seems to fit pretty good. Wrong color, I don't love the short billets and wish it had a longer leg panel. But if it fits him I decided to see if I can figure it out! I did have to go buy a longer girth (love the used tack shop!).

how cute am i?

chunky monkey in the Duett Rondo

It's been three rides, longest of eight miles, with some good hills, cantering, etc. While I don't love it, it is fine, and Miles seems to be pretty enthusiastic and happy with it. Since I now have my sheepskin cover on it and my pommel bags attached it seems suitable for now. 

I still think I'll look into the Solstice extra wide, at least just to try! But I think I need to sell a few saddles first…

The rest of my tack I'm happy with. Love the snap-on bridle, reflective rope halter, beta grip reins and the padded breast collar. And I finally got Miles his own pair of sparkly boots!

sparkly new copper boots (old Freeform on him here)
But I needed to go through all my old boots. Once all in one place…oh my, I never throw anything out! A few pieces were beyond repair. Most are just worn, though some are more serviceable than others. I'm thinking about offering the used ones up for giveaway, just pay shipping, on some Facebook groups, but then that seems like work too. Maybe when it gets cooler and I don't want to ride and the garage is not 110 degrees.

Anyone else have any saddle suggestion to look into? I like the idea of Reactor Panel but it's an entirely different system and seems complicated. I'd like to stick with more dressage-style, the longer leg is better for long rides, and I know that I am not a fan of Specialized. Other than that, there is too much info out there and a million opinions! While Miles works on losing weight I'll keep doing my reaseach just in case…

my supervisor


Thursday, July 20, 2023

ups and downs

(Photo spam post. So much for "I'm going to update more." I say it's because I've been riding and it's too damn hot to work in my office on the computer, but…)

a favorite view

Yeah, I'd say summer is here!

In the last month we've ridden 70 miles with 7,300 feet of elevation gain, but our ups and down aren't just elevation. Miles had too much fun camping and after we came back needed a refresher on not being barn sour on rides from home. I had a couple epically annoying, jiggy rides. Dragged along poor S and Rocky for a couple of them. Thank goodness for good friends with solid horses!

pony does not give  *uck about my opinion
One morning we headed out early to Granite Bay. The lake is so high some of the trail looks very different (water below instead of rocks). This is the highest the lake has been in many years, which is good, though the lake trail being underwater is disappointing. On this ride we switched off and on who was in front, with Miles losing his privilege when he got too stupid. I take him out enough alone that I think using the other horse to remind Miles we're not doing what he wants (as well as my instruction from the saddle) is ok, though I may be wrong about that!

one of the lake drop-off trails

Beals Point overlook

I tried a longer ride to see if that would help, or just enforce, not rushing home. I also stopped for pictures, to just make him deal with his life, and to drink some water, keeping it chill. I don't think the 11 mile out-and-back to Avery Pond tired him out, but he did have 5.5 miles of coming home to be reminded not to make poor choices. And he did ok! 

new fashion, looking out through the ear holes?

trail covered in cottonwood "snow"

star thistle pokey trail

Avery trough, so nice but no drinking today
river so high it is the lake here now!

I get bored doing the same rides over and over. So we wandered about in the forest one day, then went to Auburn the next time. I hadn't ridden to Cool since last fall I think. I rode with S and C down to No Hands Bridge, then split up. I wondered how that would go…but Miles didn't look back. See ya guys! We went up to Cool and relaxed a bit at the staging area.

rerouted trail doesn't parallel the highway any more!

gotta snack for the long ride ahead

Foresthill bridge (but traffic is SO loud!)
The trail has gotten especially rocky after the last wet year. On our way back I hand-walked most of the way down the Cool side of the river, taking it easy and giving him a break. I'm having a hard time figuring out Miles' fitness. Since coming back from Cool includes about a 1000 foot climb at the end, I didn't want him to over-do it, so I tried to keep him to walk and easy trot. He did chose to canter up Robie Point (and was behaving himself), then I got off and walked down (and found a toy, he was not impressed). We came back with plenty of energy, I'd rather be cautious than burn him out!

terrible No Hands railings now

found an alligator!

almost back to the Auburn staging area trough (Tevis finish line)

playing in the big boys pasture

The next time out in the forest I decided to do some bushwhacking. I love this one trail that only I use, so it's pretty overgrown! I spent some time trimming some bushes and trees, then out to the oak knoll overlook here, one of my favorites. Then randomly decided to go see what the lake was like. The access I use had a small footpath alongside, completely overgrown and squishy, so it is now just a slab of rock. I think Miles is part goat! He needed to be reminded not to rush but did fine. There was no lake trail, and no getting to the water with the shrubbery and washed-up debris piles, so time to head home. So I tried letting him trot a bit home…a few big reminders where I just turn him around and we go back, past where he was naughty (breaking gait, not listening) then we start again like nothing happened. He is making better choices more often! 

oaks don't mind the heat

down one of my favorite trails

it has a newly installed trail sign (by bike riders I think). Hmmm?

three oak knoll

climbing over granite

no getting to the lake here!
Until the night ride. S wanted to try going out at night as she is sweep riding a night section of Tevis in a few weeks. Maybe Miles was mad he didn't get to finish dinner, maybe it was being out at night. But the jigging home on a three mile ride was arghh! (And I didn't get to do as much correction as I'd like, it being dark and being with S).

night ride sunset

camera still sucks at night photos!
So I set off early this morning with the intention of recreating that ride (but during daylight). We left breakfast at home (he had a small snack only) and he was super good, we trotted home on a loose rein. Seriously? I'll take it, but double arghh for inconsistency!

morning field of flowers

Miles does not think we should stop for photos
So the ups and downs continue. The temperature is pretty limiting right now, but we have another camping trip planned, and a lot of summer riding left to go. I'm not feeling the need for a goal, but sure do like thinking of some long rides I can take!

Also, I got another new pony, what do you think1? I had one just like it as a kid. I need a name, he joins another one (all white) in my yard. I guess I've got a thing for bays…

another bay pony for me!

I think my cat has melted. How Wesley?