Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sunshine Award

I was nominated for the Sunshine Award by Viva Carlos - Thank you so much!
1.Mares or Geldings?
I’ve primarily worked with gelding (pure coincidence), but I’m really beginning to understand the mare thing! I can’t choose. Just give me a horse!!

You can tell a gelding, but a mare must be won over to your cause…

2.English or Western?
BOTH! Well, English because I LOVE eventing! But my western saddle is just as good.

3.Do you prefer younger or older horses?
WHY must I CHOOSE? I love the discovery process as young horses discover some of their potential. I love laughing at/with them as they accustom themselves to new experiences. On the other hand, there is something about taking on the world with the older “been there, done that” horse that you have been with for so long – or for letting that horse show a less experienced rider the ropes…

4.Have you trained a horse from ground zero?
Yes! It’s a rewarding experience to gain a horses trust as you train.

5.Do you prefer riding or groundwork?
I love to be in the saddle! Nothing else comes close! But I do like a solid foundation on my horses that only comes with consistent groundwork.

6.Do you board your horse or keep it at home?
Board. I don’t have the country property to keep them at home. If I did have them at home, though, I would desperately miss the camaraderie of the boarding facility environment!

7.Do you use all natural products or commercial?
Both. I use whatever works best for the horse. I love the Equi-Spa products!

8.All tacked up or bareback?
All tacked up. We just don’t have everything together yet to do our daily workouts sans saddle. We do bareback fun rides, but we get more out of schooling in the tack for now.

9.Equestrian model?
Courtney King-Dye, Hilda Gurney, Jane Savoie, Bad Eventer…

10.What's your one main goal while being in the horse world?
I want to learn as much as I can. Every discipline has something to teach me (sometimes there are lots of somethings!!), and every horse has a lesson to share. I want to try it all, I want to learn it all, I want to ride to the best of my ability and beyond! I dream of national level (or higher) competition, but as long as I can ride a horse correctly and compassionately, I have already won the hardest part. Perfection may be unattainable, but I strive for it anyway. Any horse I ride changes from one moment to the next, and I need to be able to change with them – to follow the moment, to give the horse what he needs, to get out of his way when he needs it, and to work as much with him (and as little against him) as I can. If I’m not learning and growing, I’m stagnating, so let the learning never end!

Showing at the Kentucky Horse Park was a pretty huge accomplishment, though!

10 Blogs that shine on me:
(some have already received this award)

Cob Jockey
Poor Woman Showing
She Moved to Texas
The Spyder Standard
Panic and the Pony
On a Steel Horse
Viva Carlos
Polka Dot Periodical
Life as a Dangerbunny
Tales from a Bad Eventer

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Crosby Freestyle II - medium tree – 17” seat – Dressage

This saddle has a medium deep seat, plain (smooth) flaps, and moderate concealed blocks. The plain flaps are one unique feature to this saddle (and I was not the least bit certain how I would feel about them). However, the most unusual feature is the suede seat! Additionally, the blocks are somewhat squishy (as opposed to the solid, hard things that newer dressage saddles are sporting under the padded flaps).

The fit on the Fancy Pony seemed solid. There wasn’t much side-to-side wiggle. The slope of the panels matched the slop of her shoulders. As I tightened the girth, her ears stayed forward. She turned to look at me, at one point, but that seemed to be more curiosity about what we were riding in today than any reaction to discomfort or annoyance. A common problem we’ve been having is that the saddle will slide forward and the girth will end up sitting right behind her elbow. On this saddle, the back billet seems to come from the back of the flap, stabilizing the back of the saddle as it angles forward to the girth. The front billet actually goes THROUGH the thigh block (but you can pull it out and go over the top of everything, if you prefer). This results in an almost Y-shaped system. I think this may also help keep the girth back out of her elbow region. I am very happy with the resulting girth and saddle position.

I took a chance and put my stirrups in my longest length that I have been comfortable riding in. On some saddles, this left me feeling like I was reaching for them and riding on my toes... I swung into the saddle and took stock of the situation. The seat does not embrace me in a cushy hug like many of the newer-style saddles, but it held me supported like a firm lead from a dance partner. I felt comfortably upright, and my leg stretched down into my stirrup. As we walked off, I considered the suede seat underneath me. I felt like I was following with my hips just fine. I never felt restricted. Fancy Pony stretched and walked, and walked and stretched. Upward transitions were quiet and relaxed. Downward transitions came almost entirely from my core! At one point, I asked for a canter-walk transition (we haven’t actually succeeded in one of these, but we have decreased the number of trot steps in between to 2), and what I got was: canter (balance), canter (prepare), canter (ask) – trot – halt. Oops! However, that trot and halt were so much more balanced than any we have done before! There wasn’t a single walk step, and she was so round! She was really tuned into my body!

When we schooled a few walk-canter transitions, we had a couple moments of tension and hollowness, but I felt like it was more in anticipation of the transition – her desire to just do it rather than improve the quality – than anything else. When we went back to the longer frame and less uphill balance, she stepped quietly into the canter again. It’s not like I wasn’t already pushing her for a higher level of work than she is used to…

What really amazed me was how tall I felt at the trot and canter! I would peek in the mirrors periodically, and my upper body remained vertical. My back felt loose while maintaining strength and stability, and I didn’t feel like I was “chasing my horse” with my body.

All in all, I was very impressed with this saddle! And the suede seat reminds me so much of my western saddle, where I feel like I have a little more control over my seat… Perhaps that is the secret!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

County Warmblood - #3 fit (medium tree) – 17.5” seat - Dressage

This is not your modern, comfy dressage saddle. The seat is not terribly deep. The pommel is somewhat higher than most. The thigh blocks are there, but they are minimal. The seat is hard.

I love it! I could not drop my thigh as far as in some of the other saddles I have ridden in, but I feel like that is more of a musculature short-coming on my part. Built-up saddles can “hold” me in a more classical position, but it may be less correct for my current level of fitness and comfort. However, I still dropped my thigh from where I had been riding, which indicates an increased level of comfort and control. I didn’t fight to sit vertically, but I did feel the slightest tendency to want to lean forward ever so slightly. Again, I think this is less a saddle-to-rider fit issue and more of a core-strength-musculature issue.

The Fancy Pony seemed perfectly happy in this saddle, despite the billets being so long that I couldn’t tuck them into my girth and had to leave them hanging out so that they could hit her knees… She was willing and quiet in the trot, happy to come into the bridle, although she was feeling just a bit lazy. Now that we are getting relaxed and supple, it is time to bring the “oomph” level back up. There was no fuss at the canter, and we even schooled some decent walk-canter transitions without any attempted levade movements, no head-tossing, and no shoulder-dropping. That is a huge step for us!

Without the big thigh blocks, the seat may have been just a touch too roomy, allowing me to slide around wherever my core could not hold me. Overall, it is a very suitable saddle for the both of us, and I would be happy to keep an eye out and pick one of these up at a discount.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Up the Ante!

As I walked around the cross-country course at Heritage Park this weekend, I realized that the Fancy Pony and I have come a long way without ever actually schooling a XC obstacle. I looked at all those starter fences that had me queasy four months ago, and they looked inviting! They were so tiny and looked like nothing at all! When did those jumps sink down into the ground?

I also looked at the Beginner Novice jumps. They looked perfectly approachable on the green Fancy Pony!

Oh, yeah... I know I'm amazing...
How can that be, when I haven’t even been schooling XC fences? I’ve been pondering for 2 days, and this is where I ended up:

- after the massage work, we lost the “scuttle effect” that made it feel like she was going to run out of the fence (even if she had no intention of running out)

- with increased strength, she is now jumping out of stride in trot and canter with more balance and power lift than ever before

- she has developed more relaxation and balance in all gaits, improving her steering and response times leaving me able to confidently ride her on a longer rein than ever before!

Finally building some real muscles!
Before the weekend was over, she showed me exactly how ready she is for more XC!

It started with an accident… We were practicing walk-canter transitions on a serpentine. There is always “stuff” in the arena to avoid when you do more than just ride around the outside. We had just finished a half-circle to the right and made the downward transition. As I set her up at the walk for a left-lead canter depart, she ‘unbent’ right before the transition. So I asked for the bend again, and she began to drift right (with a left bend) practically over bending her neck. I finally got her between both legs and reins, and we made the transition. With all the wandering side-to-side, we were headed straight for a half-barrel shaped block (commonly used to make small verticals). I tried to encourage her to pick a side, but she didn’t quite respond fast enough, so she just jumped it! She didn’t throw her head around or do anything funny, she just jumped.

I just *had* to make sure that this nonchalance wasn’t a fluke! I looked around for things to make an inviting ‘skinny’ with. I decided on the 2 half-barrel blocks. I set them side-by-side and flanked them with standards. I wanted to set her up for success, after all! I’m a fan of building confidence by taking ridiculously baby steps!

I picked up the trot and turned toward my skinny. Fancy Pony locked onto the jump, but nothing changed in her body. The trot remained in rhythm, calm, loose, and swinging. She remained straight to the base of the jump, never offering even the slightest indication of waiver. She hopped over the skinny without a second thought and trotted out the other side ready for the next challenge!

I just *LOVE* this pony!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Wintec Isabell – Medium Wide gullet plate installed - 18” seat – Dressage

We knew the medium wide gullet would be a little roomy for the Fancy Pony, so I took my riser pad and flipped it around to help fill the front of the saddle. She didn’t care.

This saddle has the suede finish. It was grippy without forcing me to stay in one place. I liked that. I’ve ridden in this model a few times now, and I have loved it every time! The seat allowed me enough freedom to sit back and vertical if I wanted, or I could get into my half seat and free up Whisper’s back as well. On the day I rode, I only had my larger girth at the barn, so I could not tighten my saddle as much as I usually would. We had slight shifting to one side or the other, depending on the direction we were cantering. Overall, Fancy Pony seemed to approve. I very seriously want to try this saddle with the medium gullet installed. I think it would be a winner!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Wintec Pro – 17.5” seat – Dressage

I can’t speak to how this fit the Fancy Pony, as I rode in it on another horse. It does have the adjustable gullet system, however.

The saddle itself felt particularly grippy, but in a good way. Synthetic saddles do not immediately put me off, so this one is a serious contender. The thigh blocks were significant, but they were subtly supportive. The seat cradled my body and quietly encouraged me to sit up without leaning forward. My leg fell down underneath me into a solid position that I could move it out of as need be to apply the aids.

I would seriously consider this saddle, dependent, of course, on how the Fancy Pony goes in it.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Albion SLK – 17” seat – Dressage

I can’t speak to how this fit the Fancy Pony, as I rode in it on another horse. However, it felt fantastic on that horse! For the first time, I was aware of the pommel in front of me. This model seems to have a high pommel, so the front of the saddle is definitely apparent to my body. The seat was deep, soft, and comfortable. The thigh blocks were substantial, but they were not overly large or distracting. I had room to slide and follow in the seat of the saddle, and I had adjustability in my leg. I could feel the horse underneath of me, and I could put my leg on without feeling as if I had to close my knee angle in order to do it.

I give this saddle a definite thumbs up!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Prestige 2000D – Medium Tree – 17” seat – Dressage

PERFECT PONY FIT! I could feel my dressage pony underneath me. She was perfect! We were connected through my seat and legs like never before! She was up in the back. She was swingy! It was like someone fine-tuned my horse to the aids while I was sleeping! Where have you been all my life, pony?

The saddle never moved. There was no shifted hair. When I girthed this saddle up, it became a part of my horse, just an extension of her back.

The thigh blocks were HUGE. The seat was a tiny bit too small in conjunction with the large blocks. The balance was just lovely! All I have to say is: WOW!!

Unfortunately, this saddle is not currently in my price range, even used…

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


While we’re in the middle of trying so many different things, and the Fancy Pony is being such a good sport about everything…  I decided to ride her in the sidesaddle!

I apologize for the green cast... low light... camera phone... you know the drill...
She is a sensitive thing! I led her down to the arena, and she seemed a little unsure of how to walk…

I put her on the lunge line to get a feeling for the saddle, and she decided to be perma-bent to the left. It was as if she was trying to keep the saddle from sliding off. There was not going to be any bend to the right!

It was her first time. I wasn’t too worried about it. She didn’t do anything funny on the lunge, so we moved on to the actual riding experience. I swung up and allowed my right leg to hang off the far side. After much insistence, she decided that maybe, just maybe, she could walk with this ridiculous contraption…

After a few quiet laps of the indoor arena, I switched from riding astride to riding aside. She stood like a rock as I repositioned myself. I took up the reins, and she connected with me. I asked her to walk… And she just stood there, giving me the questioning ears. I asked her to walk forward again. She quite handily turned on the forehand, stepping to the right with her haunches. I applauded her attempt to answer my question, and continued to ask for forward motion. She gave me a few more wrong answers that involved various states of moving the haunches or the forehand before she finally ambled off into an awkward walk that listed to the left. We walked lap after lap after lap just to get used to this crazy condition of riding aside.

We tracked right and she insisted that there was no possible way she could bend to the right. She desperately wanted my right leg. She looked for it. I guess this is one way to teach her she can’t lean on it, huh?

Then, we did the unthinkable…

I asked her to trot!

She said, “OH – WHOA – HOLD UP! You crazy lady, you want me to do *what*?”

Seriously. Just give it a shot.

She stumbled into the trot, leaned around the corner, and then she lifted her back as she drove forward into my hand and gave me this lovely trot down the long side before it all fell apart again. For the briefest of moments, I felt the fancy! I felt like I was trotting away in my veiled hat and fancy gloves and fitted jacket and long skirt…

Did you know there are rules for sidesaddle appointments? You have to have a sandwich in your required sandwich case and sherry or tea in your required flask!

HU130 Ladies Side Saddle Tack and Equipment.
1. Sandwich Case: Must be combined sandwich case and flask. Sandwich case must contain a
sandwich wrapped and flask must contain sherry or tea.
2. Bridle: Must be either double or pelham. First definitely preferable. All leather must be flat. A
cavesson noseband must be used. Rubber reins are not permissible. Stitched in leather preferred.
3. Breastplate: Optional, but preferred.
4. Martingales: Not permitted on the flat or in Hunter Hack, permitted in over fences classes.
5. Saddles: Must be plain English type. May have suede seat and pommel. Lining may be leather
or linen. Numnahs and saddle cloth not permitted.
6. Girths: Triple fold leather. No elastic permitted. Cannot be shaped. Balance girth necessary.
7. Irons: Should be regular side saddle iron with oval eye or safety stirrup. Should be large, workmanlike
and polished, without pads.

Can you believe some people actually ride XC in these saddles?

I didn’t want to push her too far beyond her comfort zone, so I chose to save cantering for another day. I think the Fancy Pony has some sidesaddle potential!

Thornhill – Narrow Tree – 17.5” seat - Dressage

My current saddle is a Thornhill, and I love it, so I had high hopes for this one.

The saddle was stable, but it might have been a touch high in the front. The seat is deep but hard. There isn’t much cushion there. That isn’t the sort of thing to put me off, however, as long as the saddle puts me in a nice balance. This saddle put me in an average balance, but it didn’t encourage me to open my hip and drop my thigh. I struggled a little to sit vertically.

The Fancy Pony did her tail swish to the inside again, as the inside hind stepped forward. She tolerated the saddle, but she seemed overall unimpressed. When we untacked, I could see where the hair was slightly moved where there was the tiniest bit of shifting. Perhaps this shifting is what causes her to flick her tail…

Monday, October 21, 2013

Anky Salinero – Medium Tree – 17.5” seat - Dressage

This medium tree seems to be a generous medium. The thigh blocks looked huge, but they did not feel so obvious once I was mounted. Fancy Pony expressed her appreciation for long billets and short girths by keeping her ears perked forward through the entire cinching-up process.

This saddle embraced me as I sat into it. It caressed my leg into a long position, supported my upper body to stay on the vertical, and encouraged mobility in my pelvis to follow my horse. As I rode around, I felt a freedom of body that I haven’t experienced in quite a while. I felt my horse lifting her back to carry me (to carry *us*!) forward and relaxed. Then, about halfway through our ride, the Psycho Mare crept in… It looked something like this:

Three strides of connected trot – throw the head up, and drop the back and connection – take 4 strides to recover that connection – repeat!

When I dismounted, I could see that the saddle had slid forward ever-so-slightly. Now, I’m thinking the head-throwing (which doesn’t look nearly as dramatic as it sounds, but feels like she is falling apart) is her attempt to put the saddle back. Like the young girl who keeps tossing her head to the side to get her bangs out of her face. The girl with the bangs doesn’t even realize she’s doing it…

I tried the saddle again with different padding. Before any supplemental padding, I could visibly see the slight forward-and-back shifts with every stride that allows it to creep forward. I started with a half pad. It did, indeed, fill up the space in front, but it also lifted the back of the saddle. No Go.

I tried my tiny front shim. It looked like it did what we wanted, but the shifting was still there with every stride. So, I pulled that out and tried the front riser pad. Wa-La! Stable saddle! Off to the arena, we go!

My horse was normal. Not great. Not bad. Cooperative, but not exuberant. At the walk, there was this tail-swishing that I have never noticed before… Every time she stepped forward with the inside hind, her tail swished to my inside leg. I changed directions. She continued to swish to the inside. I sadly decided that this was never going to be the saddle for us. I’m not looking for the fit that she can live with… I’m looking for the fit that will allow us to excel!

UPDATE: This saddle rode MUCH better for us with a Bay Jacobsen memory foam pad.  It helped fill the extra space at her withers and stabilized the minute shifting.  We even got a few decent walk-canter transitions where she felt really comfortable!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Winter Is Coming...

I spent all spring watching that roan coat fade into strawberry silver.  It was a color transformation like none I had ever seen.  Now, the signs of shorter days and cooler temperatures are undeniable.  Longer guard hairs have started sprouting everywhere...

winter is coming...

But the dead giveaway that makes it real…
red ears!
The Fancy Roan Pony has solid red ears.  *sigh*

but the sun is shining!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Saddle Up for St. Jude - JUST KIDDING!

We could not ride for St. Jude Childrens' Research Hospital because the trails we normally use are closed due to the government shutdown (the trails are maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers).  Rescheduling for this weeked doesn't appear to be an option either.  Looks like this years Saddle Up for St. Jude Trail Ride is being postponed until spring.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Parting ways? Not if I can help it!

I decided to warm up last night by trotting the perimeter. Both directions. The goal is to work up to cantering the perimeter both directions, but I want a quiet horse that stays under me, so I don’t want to rush things. You see, there is a huge horse-eating crevasse down one side that hides behind some seriously thick growth. The path varies in width from 4 to 8 feet, obstructed on the other side by a fence. There is no cause for alarm here!

So, we had a nice steady, comfortable trot going on, and we had no concerns when we trotted along with the horse-eating creek on our right and the fence on our left. Fancy Pony looked at a gravel spot before moving right along, but she never broke gait or slowed her pace. We finished the first trek and took a brief walk break while we turned around. OK, Fancy Pony, let us trot the perimeter the other direction, now!

My trusty steed trots off again with the creek and crevasse on our left, and the fence on our right! With barely a glance at the gravel spot, we’re moving right along until…


Have you ever stayed on your horse by sheer force of will? Seriously. I’m hanging off the right side by my left elbow and thigh. I can see the ground coming for me…

I get back in the middle, turn her back around, and we go trotting down the line again. Guess what happens in 20 feet??

Are we really here again? Force of will. Has to be. Physics does not explain my ability to stay on top of the horse!

My trusty steed now has no confidence that the crevasse won’t eat her. Psycho Mare has returned and doesn’t even want to WALK down the path. I’m not sure how much more my elbow and thigh can do to keep me in the saddle. Besides, this was supposed to be a POSITIVE BREAK FROM THE ARENA and it was quickly turning into “not positive”. On the other hand, I WILL NOT reward such behavior by heading back in, either. So, we walked. She jumped several more times, but at least the spinning ceased. She balked. I sent her forward. She sat and swished her tail. I sent her forward. She jigged. We halted and enjoyed the scenery. We walked on, and I breathed for her. She relaxed a little.

Upon our return to the main drag, we headed into the arena. I established a nice trot and got my 2-point assessment out of the way. She trotted. I 2-pointed. She relaxed a stretched her topline! I continued to 2-point. She got bored. I continued to 2-point. She thought about walking. I put my leg on her and continued to 2-point. She stretched further! I continued to 2-point. I felt my core start to wobble a little. I continued to 2-point. She ignored my leg and decided this time, she was going to walk anyway. I continued to 2-point! She decided I was just dumb for not sitting down, so she halted. I continued to 2-point. I kicked her back up into a walk, and I MAINTAINED MY 2-POINT! She walked about 6 steps, and my core gave out.

This is a huge improvement from last week, where I lost it when she changed gaits! Maybe one day I can 2-point through all of my transitions…

We went on to practice nice, quiet canter work. I tried to make her look like a hunter pony by cantering on a long, loose rein. She would lose her balance, and we would circle. She let me move her shoulders around some, and I was able to lift the inside a little. Then we popped over some cross-rails before calling it quits. She had already showed some interested in jumping the 3’6” oxer, but I didn’t think we were actually ready for that, yet. There is no doubt in my mind that she can clear it, but we’re still focusing on other things. Like, where to take off!

The first approach to the cross-rail was quiet and relaxed. I 2-pointed and breathed. I waited. As calm as can be, she took the long spot! I wasn’t ready for that, so I tried to follow with my hands so I didn’t punish her for jumping, and she landed without the head dive, and cantered right off. That’s something else we’ve been working on – cantering away on the far side.

I'm too sexy for my canter...
You see, I started over with the jumping training after the first massage. She has been jumping on the lunge, and we’ve been riding poles under saddle. We started over cross-rails again by trotting them. She has been so wonderful about trotting in and trotting out while I focus on steady position and waiting for her to fold me up in the take-off. She is so relaxed about these cross-rails that when we canter into them, she trots out the far side! This doesn’t actually seem like a bad problem to have. However, we will canter courses again, so the game has become “exit as you enter”.
I knew I wanted to circle left and take the cross-rail again, and she had landed on the left lead, so we were set! I sat, rode my circle, lined up the jump, and rode the same line, this time, I just closed my hand 2 strides out to say “wait for one more, don’t take the long spot.” She waited. I looked right to prepare for my circle right to the same jump. She landed on the right lead, and I sat and circled. Again, I lined up the jump, and she took the long spot! *sigh* I didn’t want to pick a fight, as I knew I didn’t have enough core left to back it up. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it, and we can always come back with gymnastic lines to fix it. I just took one more right circle, asked 2 strides out for the “wait”, and we got our jump from a more comfortable spot. We rode out the far side on a relatively straight line and halted about 4 strides away. She was somewhat supple! Once halted, she was mostly square, and she was alive with attentiveness and ready to do whatever I asked next! I was so happy with her willingness to listen, I just hopped off right then and there! We were done. I loosened all buckles and we walked back to the barn. She seemed pleased with herself, and I felt it was as good an ending as any after the way our ride started.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Great Jumping Saddle Search - considerations

The Fancy Pony (previously known as the Psycho Mare) is an Arabian, so she still has the well-sprung ribs, but she is a true medium in saddle fit, it seems. **note: some of this may sound familiar – I risked redundancy to cover all the bases** She has a short back, but the real concern is that if the saddle slides forward AT ALL, it really looks like it slides over the top of her shoulder!! The slope of her shoulders in the frontal plane corresponds to a typical medium width saddle. However, the width she needs between the panels is almost closer to a medium-narrow. My old, *OLD* Crosby Prix de Nations Close Contact saddle fits her pretty well with a small riser pad. You might recall that we do eventing… Many eventing saddles offer knee rolls, padded flaps, calf blocks, and a deep seat. My PDN offers none of these things. Perhaps I should be looking for something a little more secure for the Cross Country phase…

I have been told that I have a long thigh. My knee is right at the front of the flap on my PDN. Does that indicate that I really need a forward-flap jumping saddle? And how do you work a forward-flap saddle on a small-framed horse?

**she** actually really liked this saddle...

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Great Dressage Saddle Search - considerations

The Fancy Pony (previously known as the Psycho Mare) is an Arabian, so she still has the well-sprung ribs, but she is a true medium in saddle fit, it seems. She has a short back, but the real concern is that if the saddle slides forward AT ALL, it really looks like it slides over the top of her shoulder!! The slope of her shoulders in the frontal plane corresponds to a typical medium width saddle. However, the width she needs between the panels is almost closer to a medium-narrow. My old, *OLD* wintec dressage saddle fits her perfectly, but it is not a great fit for me. The seat could be larger. The seat needs to be more scooped, for sure! The flap could be less straight and a tad more forward-sloping, but if there were some sort of thigh blocks to speak of, it might not be an issue…

I have been told that I have a long thigh. With a saddle that supports me beautifully, it seems that I can really drop my thigh down for that lovely, long, classical dressage leg. Otherwise, I seem to be more comfortable in a slightly forward flap saddle. If the thigh blocks are particularly chucky, I definitely need a larger seat size. The Fancy Pony is delicately built, so many times, I fell as if I need to contract my leg angle in order to put my leg on her. I really need my saddle to feel like I can “close my leg” without closing the angle of my knee. I’m not asking for much, am I?

Stay tuned for considerations for The Great Jumping Saddle Search!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Saddle Up for St. Jude – Can you help me reach my goal?

I am asking for your help. I have set a goal to raise $250 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital this year!

I still have a long way to go…

I am participating in this event to raise money that will help St. Jude Children's Research Hospital® find new treatments for cancer, sickle cell and other catastrophic diseases. You too can help St. Jude! You have the option of donating directly to this event, donating to a participant of this event, or you can register to become a participant and do your own fundraising for St. Jude. If you would like to make a donation on behalf of me, please visit my St Jude page here:

Here is some interesting information about St. Jude:
- St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is internationally recognized for its pioneering work in finding cures and saving children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases.

- St. Jude is the first and only pediatric cancer center to be designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute.

- Founded by late entertainer Danny Thomas and based in Memphis, Tenn, St. Jude freely shares its discoveries with scientific and medical communities around the world.

- St. Jude is the only pediatric cancer research center where families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance. No child is ever denied treatment because of the family's inability to pay. St. Jude is financially supported by ALSAC, its fundraising organization.

For more information, please visit

Pie, I'm going to be missing you on this ride...

Friday, October 4, 2013

October 2013 - 2-point Challenge!

Hosted by Viva Carlos

We did it!  We accepted the challenge!

I set off to establsih my baseline 2-point time after warming up a little.  I allowed Fancy Pony to walk around on the buckle, stretching away, while I set up my stopwatch.

You caught that part about "on the buckle", right?

We were also working in this:
I really do love this saddle!

So, I hit the button to go to the stopwatch, and it went "beep"

Except the Fancy Pony Psycho Mare heard "BEEP!"

She spun like a reining horse 180 degrees, prepared to take off from whatever monster was coming to kill us!!

However, before I could even get the reins gathered up (remember - on the buckle!), she was back to walking on the rail - just the other direction.

I'm not exactly sure why I didn't just slide right out of that saddle...
But, I'm incredibly proud of the mare for regaining her sanity so nicely!  And the next time my watch beeped, she didn't even acknowledge it!

The Great Saddle Search - What do you ride?

I’ve had my eye on a particular dressage saddle for a couple of years now. I may finally have the opportunity to own one. However, before I commit to such a purchase (and until I know I’ll be receiving a regular paycheck again!!), I decided that I should ride in as many saddles as possible to determine what features I love and hate and the like. As it turns out, I am at a barn with lots of other eventers and they all have dressage saddles! And everyone is so generous, many have offered to let me try their saddles!

I’ll try to keep a log of what I have ridden in and my impressions from each saddle. But, for now, I’d like to hear from the “peanut gallery.” What features do you like, not like, whatever? What do you ride in? I’ll be searching for a jumping saddle next, so H/J people, feel free to chime in! Feel free to ramble on about your impressions. I’m really looking for analytical evaluations of your saddles. What are they suitable for, what are they NOT suitable for? Give me details!!

The jumping saddle that I’m riding in right now is my ooooold Crosby Prix de Nations close contact plain flap. There is seriously nothing to this saddle. One of the young riders in my group rode it last night and told me that it revealed all of the shortcomings in her position because she could not keep her leg back. There is no thigh block or knee roll to hold her leg for her, so she slid into a chair-type position.

would *you* want to ride cross-country in that?
Oh, how I still love that saddle, though!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


As of today, I am considered "essential".

My riding progress feels the same way.
MT worked on the Fancy Pony again and said that she has made great progress and is incredibly improved from 6 weeks ago.  It seems like from here, we just need to make her more comfortable so that she can really excel.

Let the saddle search begin!
I'm now in the market for a saddle that helps me maintain that ideal dressage position and doesn't wiggle at all on her back.  That seems to be the issue.
Just last night, I sat in a $$$$ Anky dressage saddle, and she loved it until it started to wiggle a little and creep forward.  The head tossing and connection dropping began.  On the upside, EVERYONE in attendance said my position looks beautiful and stable.  Go me!

Until something more exciting or ramble-worthy comes along, I leave you with a shot from the National Dressage Pony Cup awards ceremony.  This mare is really amazing!

Champion Arabian - Reserve Champion AA Intro Pony


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