Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New Goals

Okay, after getting this little Wintec to fit Scout better and freeing his shoulders up, we can move on to "going forward."

One of my very best, long-time friends reviewed the first videos I posted and shared her comments on them. I value her opinion and will definitely work on the things she suggested. Mainly - forwardness. We will work on longer reins and focus on forward, forward, forward.

My sweet little B took these videos yesterday morning and I like the last one the best.

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Video 4

Video 5

Video 5 shows Scout at a decent walk. Yes, he could be moving more forward, but this is the best he has walked under saddle since I've owned him. I wish I had allowed him to stretch completely out, but I was actually just giving him a break before asking him to do some more trot work. The memory card filled up, so this was as much as we got on video. I was pleased with this little bit of progress!

New goals:

1. Forward, forward, forward
2. Longer reins for now
3. Encourage more stretching
4. Be patient
5. Continue to build muscle
6. Find an appropriate saddle
7. Keep riding

We couldn't ride this morning - we had a tremendous round of thunderstorms roll through early this morning. The thunder woke me up at 3AM and I couldn't go back to sleep. The storm raged until after 7AM! Thank goodness for the rain though. We desperately needed it.

Hoping to get back on tomorrow so we can work toward our new goals!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fitting Wintec to Scout's Back

Here are the Wintec gullets. The blue is the medium-wide and the black is the medium. I had been riding Scout in the medium, but his back tracings and measurements were medium-wide. No wonder he was testy under saddle. He was getting pinched in the shoulders! (Thanks for alerting me to that Ms. Nancy!)

(It is really hard to tell the difference in the medium and medium-wide gullets from these pictures, but I wanted to post them anyway.)

Below photos are of the medium tree:

The photos below are with the medium-wide gullet:

And medium-wide gullet with saddle pad:

With the medium-wide gullet, the saddle sits a little lower in the pommel. This saddle is a 15 3/4 inch, and it still dwarfs Scout! It is definitely a better fit for me though. I believe I need a 16 inch in something...

Scout was definitely better under saddle today, so I look forward to riding him in the medium-wide to see if it helps relieve his fussiness.

Back Tracings

Okay, so in order to get an idea of the size tree Scout needs, I watched the Trumbull Mountain Tack Shop Video on how to do back and wither tracings, and printed out the handout as a go-by. I didn't do my tracings 100% correct, but they at least gave the saddle fitter an idea of Scout's shape.

Here are the photos of Scout during the tracing process:

Photo 1: The far left piece of blue tape marks the rear edge of Scout's scapula.

Photo 2: The second piece of tape marks a 3-finger distance from the rear edge of the scapula, where I needed to put the flexible curve. This is measurement #1 and tells us the width of the gullet. 

Photo 3: This marks the deepest part of Scout's back, where I take the second measurement with the flexible curve. This is measurement #2.

Photo 4: The flexible curve is laid along Scout's topline, from his withers along his back. This is the 3rd line at the bottom of the tracing used to show where the tree will lay along his back.

Photo 5: This is the completed set of back tracings. However, I did this one wrong because I forgot to mark on the flexible curve where the curve intersected Scout's withers and deepest part of his back. I did a second set of drawings that I sent to Trumbull Mountain.

Here are the links to the video and hard copy handout in case you'd like to submit your own tracings to a saddle fitter:

Trumbull Mountain Saddle Fitting Video

How to do Saddle Fitting and Wither Tracings

I have been riding Scout in an All Purpose Wintec using the medium gullet. Nancy, the saddle fitter I am working with, said her measurements indicate he is a medium-wide. Under her recommendation, I changed the gullet to the medium-wide before our ride this morning. I truly feel like it made a difference in his way of going. He didn't seem quite as fussy today and he seemed to be more willing to go forward and lengthen his stride. My sweet 10 year old videoed us again this morning and I will post those once they finish uploading to YouTube.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Scout Pony Videos

My sweet 10 year old videoed me riding Scout yesterday morning, so here are the videos:

Scout Video 1

Scout Video 2

Scout is extremely sensitive and is agitated in these videos...I believe his frustration stems from several things:

1) Needs a better fitting saddle
2) I need to be clearer with my aids
3) He needs to stop being afraid to move forward
4) He needs to stop trying to anticipate everything I ask
5) I need to be patient when asking him to do new things

All of these things we are working on. :)

I have been working with a wonderful lady from Trumbull Mountain Task Shop who East Bound suggested using. I sent her tracings of Scout's back on Friday and she received them today. After measuring his tracings and watching these videos, she suggested using a wider tree in the saddle I am currently riding him in to see if that makes a difference. Tomorrow I will measure him and change the gullet accordingly in the Wintec. At least I can adjust the current saddle to fit him while I continue to look for used saddles. Ms. Nancy from the saddle shop recommended the Thorowgood T4 with a MW gullet in the Cob Style.  She recommended the Thorowgood over the Wintec because the T4 is wool flocked. Another one she recommended in my "price range" was the Duett Rondo in a 16" 32 or 34 tree. So, I will see if I can find any of those used.

I am trying really hard to be conscious of my entire body; I have a tendency to lock my arms and pull on the reins rather than being soft and supple. I also tend to lock my hands on Scout's neck, which also hampers my ability to be soft. I am compensating for the lack of leg muscles. Yep, I've been doing a lot of 2-point as well, but I have to accept the fact that I have only been riding consistently for going on 4 weeks now after a year off, (and really after 17 years of not riding regularly...). It will come, but it is going to take time.

I do have to say I am absolutely thrilled with my pony. Scout seems to really try hard to please and he has come a really long way in the short time I have been working him. I look forward to seeing how great he can become! I think he has a lot of potential for lower level eventing or hunter/jumper schooling shows. I am well aware we won't do anything major, but it won't hurt to work towards some goals and it is always fun to dream!

Anyway, the videos are kind of long and shaky, but B did a great job with what he had to work with. We pulled out the tripod and hopefully the next time I can convince him to video me, I can put him in a better spot with the tripod. I love how he captures our cat Annie playing, too. :)

Feel free to post your comments and suggestions on the videos - thanks in advance!

I still need to post the tracings...I will, I promise!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Check This One Out :)

One of my new favorite blogs: http://dressagecurmudgeon.blogspot.com/  (Thank you Enginerd...) now I have even more fun reads to distract me from all the other stuff I should be doing....I laughed so hard I cried while reading this blog.

Rode Scout pony again today. We even did some canter work! It is amazing how much stronger I am after just a few weeks of riding and how much better he is gettin gevery day! This marks the end of the 3rd week of consistent riding. Not sure how long I will be able to continue due to other commitments, but boy, I have loved being back in the saddle on a regular basis. I have been doing as much 2-point as I can stand, but need lots more hours of it. Hopefully my butt is firming up enough to be attractive to my hubby again so he will encourage me to continue riding... :) A girl can dream, can't she?

I sent off Scout's back tracings to Trumbull Mountain Saddlery today. Hopefully the Lexington saddle will be a good candidate for us. I need to post the photos of the tracings, but just haven't had a chance yet. We shall see what happens with the saddle journey and I will keep you posted.

We have family coming in tomorrow - hubby's cousin we haven't seen in 3 years! She's been teaching English in Vietnam, so we are SO excited to see her! Hubby's other cousin is also here from Virginia, and these 2 cousins have never met, so this should be fun!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Okay, DON'T Laugh...

For your viewing pleasure, I present to you...
me riding the Thelwell pony, Tonto:

We both have a lot of work to do. :)

Other updates:

I sent the beautiful trial saddle back. It was just too big. Hoping to find something smaller. I took tracings of Scout's back to send to Trumbull Saddlery (will post the photos of doing this as soon as I can). They have a wide range of saddles and may have something that works for us. I'm eyeing a 16 in. Crosby, Lexington right now... In the meantime, I am keeping my fingers corssed and have posted a saddle plea to all of my horse friends on FB.

I've ridden almost every day for the last 3 weeks. The day before yesterday and yesterday, I actually rode both ponies - Scout in the early morning and Tonto in the late afternoon. Taking time between rides gives my old, tight muscles a chance to relax before climbing on a second time. Amazing, huh? It sure has been fun!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Trial Saddle

It arrived!

It definitely has some age on it and I was kind of disappointed in how dry, dirty and scuffed it was. There was oxidation on the silver and it was rather dusty/dirty, but all of that can be taken care of.  (I know if I was selling my saddle, I would want it to be clean and supple, but I'm a bit anal like that...in Pony Club, you learn that tack care is essential.) I think that is why I am still able to ride in my saddles and bridles that are 30+ years old.

The scuff marks are there to stay, but with some oiling, they shouldn't be as noticeable.

See the scuff marks along the pommel and cantle? The seat has staining on it like it was maybe rained on a bit, but all that is cosmetic. It seems to be structurally sound and the stitching seems good. It is foam flocked rather than wool. I've never had a saddle with foam flocking, so I don't really know the pros/cons. I've always heard that wool is better, but with no experience with the foam, I don't have my own opinion on it yet.

Photos of new saddle sitting on Scout's back without a saddle pad:

And with a saddle pad:

Me sitting in the saddle
(my hubby snapped these photos with his iPhone and Scout was standing a little downhill):
(and I dwarf my 12.3 hh pony!)

 With the dark breeches against the dark saddle, it is hard to see my leg position. I can say that this saddle is very, very comfortable though. I have been riding in saddles that were too big for me all of my life. They have all been 17 to 17.5 inches, so I end up sitting on the twist rather than in the seat. My seat bones have always hurt while riding and I have never been able to sit back and deep in the saddle because of this. Who knew what a difference 1/2 to 1 inch makes! (HUGE!!)

With this saddle, I can actually sit up and back comfortably without my seat bones screaming in agony. Wow, what a difference!!

I do think the saddle flap is too long for my leg. The flap measures 15.5 inches, and you can see my foot is hardly below the flap, so if I shortened the stirrups to jumping position, they would hardly hang below the flaps! (Hey, I am a very tall 4'11 and 1/2 inches!, but the flaps are still a little too long.)

Scout rode very well in it and part of that is because it puts me in a better position than my old Stubben Siegfried, (which, BTW is missing from the tack store I consigned it. Story for another day. :( ):

 So, that's the update on the new saddle. My hubby videoed me riding in it, but the file is too big to load and I don't have a YouTube account, so I'll have to get him to make some shorter clips this weekend. I have 7 days to try the saddle.

Let me know your thoughts and opinions on it. Keep in mind that it is very unlikely I will ever ride outside of our pasture and I don't have any grandiose plans to event, compete in dressage or jump again. If I ever did anything major, it would be a local schooling hunter show or trailride with friends. :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Keep Your Fingers Crossed...

Waiting impatiently for this to arrive for a one week trial period. The last time I bought a saddle was in 1994. Actually, I bought 2 saddles that year for my wide pony, Hamlet. I bought a used Stubben Siegfried and a used Passier PS Baum. (Yes, I had more money when I was in college than I do now. Go figure. :))  I still have both of those saddles. Hoping the Stubben has found a good home with a therapeutic riding program; I will find out this week.

So, I was shopping online and found this one. It is within my non-existent-budget (so, thanks to my MOM, it is on its way here for trial). It is a Lucinda Green Thoroughbred All Purpose, 16 1/2 in. medium tree. Not sure of its age, but according to the saddler, it is in good condition. I just hope it is and fits Scout and me.

Been riding as much as possible lately. Waking up early and trying to ride before it gets too hot and humid. Scout has been a really good boy. We're taking it slow and steady because we are both so out of shape. I think I need to get a treadmill for Tonto....not enough time to work 2 each morning!

I'll let you know how the saddle works!