Monday, August 29, 2011

Cheating Helps

Today Pie and I had another good trail work session, much like yesterday's.  We went about twice as far - perhaps 1/2 mile out and 1/2 mile back, doing the same type of work as yesterday, but having to do it less often because he was able to march along at the walk and also a nice slow trot for longer stretches without being distracted.  I ride him on a loose rein, and have been keeping one hand on the front of my Mattes pad, which sticks up in the front gullet of the saddle - this is my version of the night latch that Trailrider refers to - I can't use one of those having nowhere to put it on my dressage saddle (must get Pie measured and Western trail saddle purchased/ordered . . .).  I've been doing it to give me a baseline of confidence, because the spin's still in there.  We were walking along a section of trail bordered by some bushes behind some houses when a lady in her yard suddenly popped into view.  Spin!  This one wasn't a full 180 but about 90 degrees, and as is more common than not when Pie spins, he stopped right there - no bolt or continued worry once the object was identified as not threatening.  I guess I'd say he isn't spooky (nervous or looky) but rather just easily startled by visual surprises, and I'm expecting that it will wear off with time and miles.  I stayed in the saddle just fine, probably due to my hand on the pad - cheating's just fine by me in this sort of case - I haven't got anything to prove and it helps me stay relaxed which helps Pie.

Pie and I just kept on trucking after that (we went back and forth over the same section of trail at walk and trot a few times) and he arrived back at the barn in a nice calm condition - better than yesterday.  And there were no more incidences of nasty faces. Good Pie!

I wanted to take Dawn for a ride - it's been a while since I've ridden her - but when I was grooming her I found an aggravated bug bite - all scabby and swollen - just where the girth would lie at the bottom of her barrel, so she got another day off.  Probably just as well - I was pretty emotionally tired after managing to ride Pie on the trail again - taking on Dawn when I'm feeling depleted isn't necessarily a good idea.  Dawn's also got some skin crud and irritation going in the area of her neck where she had her welts from the wasp stings.  She's got skin bits coming off and also some bumpy areas - I scrubbed the dead skin off (there's still hair and the skin bits seem to be coming up through the hair) - she liked that as it's itchy - and soaked it with some EQyss spray, which seemed to make her more comfortable.  I put some on the girth area as well.  I'll keep fly spray off those areas tomorrow and put some Swat on the girth area tomorrow to keep the flies off.

Drift was anxious for some attention, too - he's quite the sponge for it - and got a good grooming.  He's looking more settled recently - his eye looks softer and he seems more relaxed.


  1. I went to a Renaissance fair once where the bad knight had the crowd chant "Cheat to Win! Cheat to Win!". With horses, it makes perfect sense.

    I don't know if this would help in your case, but when I started Paj, I put a grab strap on my dressage saddle. It's a piece of rolled leather about 8" long and attaches to the dee rings on the front of the saddle. Dover sells them.

  2. You are busy with three horses! I think it is great that you relax by holding on to the pad. As you both get more practice, you will both improve. Good thing he doesn't bolt... that just scares me. I hope you know how to bend his neck easily in a case of bolting.

  3. Good for you sticking the spin. It helped your confidence -and his - I'm sure. Keeping a hand on the saddle pad isn't cheating. Its most important to stay on and stay relaxed so he settles; just as you said.

  4. Sounds like Pie is coming along nicely!
    There is a strap for english saddles that goes across the front, the lady I rode with called it a monkey strap and it was made of braided round leather. I dont know where to get one, but I think she said it was from an online store.

  5. Kate, you should really consider a "cheapie" Western saddle with cordura fenders or an endurance type western saddle with English leathers. I think you would absolutely love trail riding in one of those types.

    I ride in a cordura western-type saddle, and I love being able to feel the horse with my legs. I've ridden in "real" Western saddles since and I hate them. I don't really care for English saddles either, because the higher pommel and cantle really do keep you centered better when the horse spooks. It's still a lot more saddle than you're used to, but leathers or cordura fenders will probably feel a lot better to you.

  6. Sounds like a pretty great day for bipeds and quadripeds alike ;o)

  7. Doesn't sound like cheating to me. Just playing it smart. I like all the activities you are giving him to think about on the trail. There is no time to look and spook, because he is busy taking direction from his calm, confident rider.

  8. Kate?....It isnt cheating! Its a safe option, I use one when starting young horses, attached to the horn, its home made, but works well!

    Funder has a good point, no need to buy a heavy saddle, those Cordura ones are ok. There is nothing to say, that when the horse has progressed and become more settled, you could easily go back to the English saddle.
    Good to hear your doing ok too!

  9. Do whatever it takes to stay safe! That is definitely not cheating!
    Good job on Pie and I hope Dawn heals up quick!

  10. I always ride Cassie with a string around her neck, she can be quite sharp in her reactions and I often ride with both string and reins in my hands. I don't see it as cheating, simple safety! It's handy in case of an emergency too, like the time my rein broke!

  11. To me it doesn't sound like cheating, just common sense. I sometimes put a neck strap (fancy name for a stirrup leather buckled around the neck) for trail riding when I'm expecting a lot of new situations that might be scarey.


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