Monday, August 27, 2012

Collegiate Saddle Arrived Today!

The Collegiate saddle arrived today, just in time for the rain! Hurricane/Tropical Storm? Isaac is supposed to dump a lot of rain on us for the next couple of days, so I'll try to be patient!

Here are photos of the saddle. It looked a lot darker in the previous post. I used the flash, so maybe that made it look different.

The saddle is lovely -

The seat feels very nice, so I look forward to sitting in it. Please keep your fingers crossed that this is THE ONE. It is getting way too expensive shipping saddles back and I am very tired of saddle hunting. However, I have met a bunch of really nice, helpful folks!

The ladies at Trumbull Mountain have been amazing to work with, too!

Oh - and my oldest is getting bit by the horse bug. He rode Cricket on Saturday:

He even rode her bareback on Sunday!
Cricket loves D and they are having fun together!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Well, That Stinks...and Better News!

After all of the positive vibes I was getting on the Stubben Edelweiss, I still had a little nagging feeling that something wasn't right and that feeling just wouldn't go away, so I decided to call my long-time friend and past trainer, Toni, to come take a look. So incredibly patient, she listened to all of the great things I had to say about the saddle and how much I loved it. We put it on Scout without the saddle pad and she pointed out that it didn't really have much clearance in the pommel for his withers and noted that when we padded it up, even more of that space would be compromised. She also noted that the points of the tree were awfully long for Scout's wither area.

I put the regular fleece pad under the saddle and girthed it up, and off we went to my little circle on a hill to ride in it for Toni's approval. We didn't ride in it for long before she began to ask questions about the way Scout was going. She of course noticed his non-willingness to go forward and many other things I had not noticed. She had me place my hand under different areas of the saddle near Scout's shoulder. It was all I could do to just partially slide my hand under some parts of the saddle. "Not good," she said. She had me get the Wintec that Nancy from Trumbell Mountain told me to adjust to the medium-wide gullet (according to the back tracings I sent her). So, we put the Wintec on Scout and I climbed on again. I started out in the medium-wide and there was an immediate improvement in Scout's willingness to go forward. He began tracking up at the walk and was much better at the trot. So much better, in fact, that he wanted to keep doing canter departs rather than trot. Not sure if that was good or bad, but he was definitely more forward, for a notable difference. We had a great mini-lesson that provided some more "tools for our toolbox." And oh, how it made me miss lessons with Toni! She is such a wonderful teacher! Just out of curiosity, Toni had me change to the wide gullet. Scout went around fine in it, but we both agreed he went best in the medium-wide.

Needless to say, I was sooooooooooooooooooo disappointed that the Stubben wasn't THE ONE, but I am relieved I didn't purchase it and ride in it long enough to cause greater problems with Scout's back. So, the immensely beautiful, incredibly buttery, oozingly supple, almost perfect saddle is on its way back to it's very kind and generous owner who allowed me to try it for over a week. My sincerest appreciation to her - hopefully the saddle will find its perfect owner in the big Labor Day tack sale in her area. If any of you are interested in the saddle, let me know and I will pass on the contact info. It is going to make someone an awesome saddle.

Many thank yous to Toni for her years of priceless experience which helped to divert us from a potential disaster. Now, on to looking for another saddle....I think I found one with good potential (below)...and this one is adjustable, so that is even more promising! I'll keep you posted.

Collegiate Convertible with adjustable gullets

On another note, one of my dearest friends picked Scout and me up this past Saturday to go to another friend's farm to ride. It was the first time since the in-hand clinic in February 2011 that Scout has been to a new place since we bought him. He was a bit anxious, but he finally settled down (with the help of some Parelli games - a fun story for another day!) and agreed to be a good pony. I was very, very pleased with him! My friend rode him for a bit and gave me suggestions that we put to use today. Scout had Sunday and Monday off, so he was ready to get back to it today and he definitely retained what he had been taught on Saturday! He is a brilliant little fellow and I am so proud of his efforts to understand what I ask of him. We are certainly learning together! We had another awesome ride this morning. They seem to get better and better!

Oh! And another exciting side note - we signed up to ride in a "Western Dressage" clinic on September 23 at the River Region Horse Council Expo and Clinic going on in our area. We will ride English and I have 2 friends riding in it with us!! Very excited about that...

Had to share these photos with you - my middle son who is 11 years old took these photos to enter into a National Geographic Kids Photo Contest. I thought they were fantastic, so I had to post them. Enjoy!

Tonto Pony

Scout's Eye

K.C. cat chillaxin' in her favorite chair

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Jockey for a Day

This is Cricket. She is a QH/TB cross owned by a long-time friend and ridden by her Grand-daughter. Cricket was ridden in Pony Club and local shows just a couple of years ago. She is currenly eating gobs of grass at my parents' place in Pike Road and I talked to her owner last week to see if she needed to be exercised. She said "YES!" so the owner came over today and we pulled Cricket out of the pasture to take her for a spin.

Mind you, she is only like 15.2 hands...but may look a little taller than that due to my...uh...towering 4'11 self.

Her owner lunged her then rode her so I could see how she went before I climbed on. She did really well for not being ridden in a while.

I think I could have dropped my stirrups a hole or 2...this is the length I ride Scout and Tonto!

 I had forgotten what it was like to be on something other than a pony! She was TALL! I felt like I was doing the splits and my legs hardly reached her sides. Next time I'll lengthen the stirrups and ride in my smaller saddle. :)

It sure was fun being on a larger horse again!

She is quite smart - last weekend I was filling her water trough and it was extremely hot. She walked over and nudged the hose with her nose. When I didn't turn the hose on her, she took her nose and pulled it out of the trough towards her. Cricket wanted to be hosed right then and didn't want to wait. As I hosed her off, she stood with one leg in the air, then rotated around so I could hose her whole body. My oldest thought this was the funniest thing ever!

Cricket is a sweetie and definitely misses her young rider who has gone off to college. Maybe she'll be our weekend horse for a while. :)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Trying the Stubben Edelweiss

Finally! This morning I was able to try the Stubben Edelweiss, C.S., Junior (16 inch, 32 cm tree).

Another photo of it on Scout, this time with stirrups:

Sitting in it:

Close up shot:

If anything, the seat may be a bit small for me; a 16.5 inch would probably be ideal, but I really, really, really like this saddle.

It is small, and that is what I need. I am able to get my leg on Scout's side without a large saddle flap interfering, and that is really nice. It is super comfortable and a high quality saddle. It is wool flocked, rather than foam; and it seems to fit Scout - you can't tell from the shaky videos I'm about to post out here later, but Scout really seemed to relax and really move forward once he quit being a pill this morning - (wish I had gotten more of his better moments on film rather than the not-so-pretty stuff, but beggars can't be choosers; happy to have someone videoing at least!).... Plus, the saddle is in amazing shape.

We'll ride in it several more times to be sure, but I am kind of thinking (and really hoping) this may be THE one...feel free to chime in and give me your opinion on it. I will send an email and photos to the saddle-fitter shortly to get her take on it as well.

As soon as the videos load, I'll post them out here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Quick Saddle Comparison - Stubben Edelweiss, Jr. vs. Thoroughbred All Purpose

I was curious, so here is a quick saddle comparison between the Thoroughbred All Purpose from a few weeks ago and the Stubben Edelweiss, Jr. that arrived today:

Thoroughbred All Purpose (16.5 in., medium tree) :

Stubben Edelweiss, Jr. (16 in., medium-wide child's saddle):

Stubben Edelweiss:

Thoroughbred All Purpose:

Thoroughbred All Purpose:

The Thoroughbred was definitely a whole lot bigger on little Scout pony!

Not sure if I'll have anyone available to take pictures of us in the Stubben tomorrow, but we'll see!

Another Saddle to Try!

The Stubben Edelweiss, Jr. arrived today! I am so excited, I can hardly stand it! The saddle has been so well cared for, it feels like butter. Oh, so supple...

It is a 16 inch, medium-wide tree, and the fact that it is a child's saddle should help my short leg dilemma. Hopefully my legs will actually hang below the saddle flaps. Also, since it is a child's saddle, it should fit Scout's pony back.

Please forgive the quality of the photos. It was late and very dark when I took these, and Scout didn't want to stand still for a photo shoot. He was much more interested in the kids screaming in the tent in our back yard. :)

On Scout's bare back:

From the front, it looked like it could be too wide:

It definitely fits his short pony back:

With a saddle pad and tightened girth:
(It looked SO much better once it had the pad under it and the girth was tight.)

So, please say a little prayer and keep your fingers crossed that it fits us both. I am really tired of saddle searching...

And a really funny thing is that when I ordered Scout's bridle a year ago, I ordered it in dark brown, so it would match my other saddles. At first, State Line sent me the brown one in horse size. Of course it was entirely too large, so I had to send it back and wait on the back-ordered pony bridle for about 6 weeks. When it finally arrived, the pony bridle was the wrong color! Chestnut!! I was miffed, but I never sent it back because I didn't want to wait any longer for a bridle. Well, the chestnut pony bridle matches this saddle almost perfectly! (I'm taking that as a good sign!)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Check These Out - Old Scout Videos

I've uploaded the videos of Scout (Mr. Wiggles) before I bought him - they are below. He came from Fairplay Horse and Mule Company out of Georgia. Lynn O'Hara, the owner, has a wide variety of horses and ponies come through her place. She also gets a lot of rescue horses and horses that are run through the sales, and I truly believe her heart is in the right place. She was so patient and kind and worked with me to purchase both of these ponies. We bought Tonto from her back in 2003 and we purchased Scout from her on Dec. 31, 2010.

When I came across Scout on her site, I just liked him. I am a sucker for paint ponies, especially ones that have some spunk and love to jump. He was not the best mover in the world, not that good at all really, but there was just something about him that I liked, so that was good enough for me.

So, here are the videos she had of Scout on her site. I do not know the young lady riding him, but I thought she did a good job. He is kind of feisty and really choppy - that straight shoulder does not make for a nice daisy-cutter trot. As far as his background, I was told he belonged to a local farrier's son who rode him in the rodeo parades and on lots of trail rides. Lynn realized he liked to jump when they were filming him on their obstacle course. As they begin the course, the horses trot through ground poles. Scout tried to jump each one.

Scout in Round Pen

Scout Ridden English

Scout Jumping

Scout on a Trail Ride

Scout on the Obstacle Course

I don't know when these videos were made or how long Lynn had him, but she seemed relieved to sell him when we made an offer. He was definitely a very impatient pony who does not like to stand still or be away from his buddies. When we got him home, I came to realize just how nervous and impatient he was. He would dance around constantly in the cross ties and paw if he had to stand for any amount of time. If Tonto wasn't in sight, Scout would whinny like crazy for him. He wouldn't pull back, he would just dance back and forth, paw, turn his head and look around constantly.

Back in March of 2011, I took him to an in-hand clinic (photos below). He had to stand tied to a trailer for an hour before we got started. By the time it was time to take him to the arena, he had dug a huge hole in the ground from pawing. At least he didn't pull back, I thought. :) We started out in my English bridle and the trainer had me put him in the rope halter (in case you were wondering). It was a great clinic! I didn't realize so much work went into showing in-hand!

Scout was nervous and impatient in the cross ties when I first started back riding again in June. Lots of pawing, dancing around and acting silly. So now, I just lock Tonto in his stall with some hay while I groom and tack Scout up. When I am ready to climb on, I turn Tonto out and he hangs out with us while I ride in the pasture. I know it isn't good for Scout to rely on Tonto for comfort, but he has completely settled down and behaves nicely when in the crossties and under saddle. He also knows what to expect each time we ride, so he isn't so nervous. A long-time friend and I have a ride planned for Aug. 18. We're hoping to haul her horse and Scout to a friend's farm so we can ride in the arena. Tonto will be left by himself, but he should be okay. I think Scout will be fine since he will be with another horse.

On another note, the trial Stubben is due to arrive tomorrow afternoon - can't wait to post an update!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Videos from Yesterday's Ride and an Epiphany!

Here are some photos my son took for me yesterday. He is my young videographer and I appreciate him doing this so much! B will turn 11 years old on August 6. So hard to believe how fast time flies. I will have a 16 year old, an 11 year old and a 7 year old. I think it is good I am riding again so it will give me something to focus on rather than being depressed about how fast time is flying by with my precious kids.

Okay, enough of the sappiness!

Scout looks fairly decent here, while I look like I'm thinking really hard (Push your hands forward. Light contact. Steady rhythm. Don't lean, go straight.) But I still have chicken wings...I'll work on that, too. Just too many things to remember! :) I really want my pissy pony to be a happy pony. He doesn't seem to be as upset in this photo: 

Here Scout looks pissy:

He went to stretch and I didn't give enough with my hands. I also put my leg on and he didn't like that. He is extremely sensitive. I even discovered yesterday when I put my inside leg on him, he turns in that direction....I had no idea he would respond that way!

Here, he is hollow again:

I truly feel we get a tiny bit better with each ride. Poor fellow, I have basically been riding his legs off the last 4 weeks. He got 3 days off last week when we went to the lake, but I rode him Monday, he had Tuesday off due to storms, then I rode him yesterday and today. We ride anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. Mostly walk, a lot of trot and little canter. I do give him Sundays off. :)

We do hill work almost every day as well, since our pasture is on a hill and the flattest place, where I work the ponies, is still on a slope.

After our ride yesterday, I had a small epiphany. What if I took off my spurs and changed his bit? I had been riding him with spurs to encourage him to move forward, but my leg isn't as steady as it should be, so I am probably jabbing him when I shouldn't be. He also chomps constantly on the eggbutt snaffle I have been riding him in, and it is not a happy chomping. It is a very aggravated, unhappy type chomping. I remember Enginerd recommending riding him in a french link or something similar rather than a plain jointed snaffle last year, so, I switched from this:

 to this:

Today was the first time riding him in the french link and without spurs. He hardly chomped on the bit at all. He moved it around in his mouth and lightly chewed on it, but there was no angry chomping at all. I wish my videographer had been awake to record the transformation to a happier pony! Scout still had some unhappy moments, like when I would put my leg on him, but he didn't seem nearly so frustrated by his bit. Maybe tomorrow he can get some videos of us going in the new bit.

These are the videos from our ride yesterday:

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Video 4

Video 5

I think he is beginning to move forward a little better - we have some good moments. :)

Keep your fingers crossed - I found a 16 in. medium-wide Stubben Edelweiss online yesterday and I am supposed to talk to the owner about it tomorrow....