Saturday, April 30, 2011

Weekend Fun

We had an amazing dressage ride yesterday. Izzy just gets better and better and may I say I love my saddle. It's just a joy to sit in.

I just pretended I was Edward Gal and she was Voice.

Friday, April 29, 2011


I literally rained all day yesterday. I know that's normal for other parts of the country, but really and truly, it is unheard of here. I got Izzy out and lunged her in her halter. She was forward and kind of batty, probably because it was so cool that she just felt good.

When I took her to the barn to groom and let her dry out, she was even more batty. Constant wiggling, moving around, spooking at stupid stuff in the cross ties... not gonna lie, I was kind of glad I didn't have time to ride. It's not that she was so very bad, but that she's capable of being so very good that it's hard to be positive when she's even a little bad.

Dressage ride today, then she gets tomorrow off, and we'll see what's going on Sunday.

Also, we're trying out a different jump saddle next week. Cross your fingers for us.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I Did It!

Yep. I dragged out the jump standards.

I set a cross rail and a vertical. However, since the lowest hole on the standard is higher than I was comfortable with, I quickly opted for two crossrails. After all, we haven't jumped in ages. More importantly, if I'm ever going to be comfortable jumping higher, I need to be comfortable jumping tiny little things.

An aside: I hate my jump saddle. Even just walking, I feel like I'm going to pitch off over Izzy's shoulder or slide down her neck. I thought I could just suck it up, but now I'm less convinced. Still no saddle hunt luck, though. Also haven't had time for wither tracings.

Anyways. Izzy remained lovely and forward as we did series of transitions to work on our coordination and responsiveness. We even had a canter-halt within two or three strides.

She loves jumping and thought the little crossrails (probably 18") were ridiculous. I felt better though--I could comfortably trot in and canter out without feeling like I was too dangerous.

Progress made towards one goal. I don't think I'm going to make the dressage lesson goal, though. I haven't heard back from the instructor and I'm quickly running out of April.

Interesting side note: I rode Izzy in our normal jump bridle, not the Micklem.

Since I got a happy mouth bit to play with, I'm back to having a bit for each bridle.

Anyways. I haven't noticed any particular difference in her way of going between bridles, BUT after I took her jump bridle off yesterday, she proceeded to rub her head all over the fence and then come up and have me scratch it.

Interesting... I'll have to ride in the Micklem next time and see if I come up with a similar result.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hello Blogger World!

We just got back from a lovely vacation on the Oregon Coast. Ahhh.

It may be commonplace to those of you who live close to the ocean, but for land-bound people like myself, it's wonderfully refreshing.

I got out to see Izzy on Saturday. She came with my happily enough, but when I mounted to ride over to the arena, she proceeded to have a massive meltdown fit of near-ulcer proportions. She even backed through an irrigation ditch and almost spun on to the road. I decided it was not the best day to try and ride through it, so I got off and made her stand facing away from her pasture. It took a good 20 minutes of standing, followed by another 20 of lunging to reinstall a brain, but then she was ok.

Yesterday, though...
It's ok to be jealous. She is THAT FABULOUS!!!

I did lunge her briefly, just to see if she was going to be ok. She was fine.

I mounted up and off we went.



With impulsion.


We're still working out contact issues, but those are probably more my issue than hers. Our right lead canter transition is back with a vengeance. The left lead is improving. Her trot was breath-taking. Her walk was great. Have I mentioned that I totally love this mare? I do. She's the wondermare for a reason.

Folks, I think Izzy is growing up and I love it!

Friday, April 15, 2011

It's Ok to Make Noise Now

Sigh. I'm unstalking the saddle. Link is here if you want to see how pretty. I really like it and if no one else bid, I could have gotten it for the $550.

HOWEVER. It's medium-wide, which we all know is NOT OK for the wondermare. She likes wide. Passier trees are adjustable, so I called around and found someone in Colorado who could do the adjusting, but it would cost $300 + shipping AND it can only be moved about 1cm AND she only does it from wither tracings. I have a sneaking suspicion that she wouldn't understand Izzy's whole "must have wide tree" thing.

Oh, and I emailed Passier the serial number, and they said it was originally a medium tree, which means it probably couldn't be adjusted out anyways. Sigh.

If anyone sees a Passier 17.5 wide jump model for under say 1k, let me know. I'm not holding my breath.

However... I remember reading that sometimes Thornhill saddles fit similarly, and I did find this:
It's the Thornhill 24k Platinum event saddle. MSRP is around $1800, so maybe one will pop up used. It does look like it has the balance I want.

Jump saddle issues aside (this is the WORST time of year to saddle hunt), I had an amazing ride on the wondermare yesterday. She just gets better and better every ride. Our lateral work off the right leg is improving, she's getting lighter and more balanced, and I'm more and more in tune with her.

I so want to take a lesson to help us progress more, but I'm taking off for vacation in a couple days and she'll just hang in the pasture for a week. I'm sure she'll be fine.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Be Very, Very Quiet

I'm stalking a saddle. If anyone hears me, they might bid and drive it up out of my price range.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I was super sore yesterday, so it seemed like a good day to do some saddle experimentation. A friend is selling two Ainsley XC saddles and she was kind enough to let us try them out.

Here is my favorite of the two:

Since it's designed to go cross country, it has a steep pommel, very forward stirrup bar, a balance point further back in the saddle and a relatively high cantle.

I've never really sat in cross country saddles. I've sat a lot in treeless saddles, a bit in dressage saddles, and occasionally in AP or close contact saddles, so this was my first forray into that world.

Unfortunately, this is how it sat on Izzy. Absolutely no way it's going to work.

Sigh. I did try lunging the mare in it with a few different padding configurations while she gave me the evil eye. I ought to know better by now, right?

I trusted in the fact that I've been really good to her lately, so I just hopped on really quick to see how it felt for me. Izzy let me know she was disgusted, but I was only on for less than 30 seconds in the round pen at a walk. Not the end of the world.

Unfortunately, those 30 seconds completely ruined me. The balance of this saddle is completely different than that of my Collegiate Alumni and it just works for me. Understand that I have short legs and a long torso, so I need something to accommodate my conformation a lot better.

Two things:
1) I realize now that my confidence issues with jumping probably have a lot to do with constantly feeling like I'm off balance because my saddle isn't helping me at all.

2) I'm going to have to break down and do wither tracings on the wondermare. I simply do not have any options available for trying other saddles and I don't have unlimited income to throw at this. Hopefully, I can draft my fellow dressage-riding boarder into helping me. She likes saddle stuff, too.

So... anyone want to buy a Collegiate Alumni in relatively good shape? I'll throw in a couple adjustable gullets.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


As per my goals, this is my weekly post on how Izzy and I are tackling our issue of forward lately.

First off, here's a picture of Izzy all gussied up for dressage. She knows she looks awesome.

And another Izzy picture, this time sporting her fancy climatex wraps.

This is post workout, so she is a little sweaty, but not bad. What a lovely girl.

So we have been doing dressage lately (LOOOOOVE my new saddle), but it's finally quit raining constantly, and the track has at last dried up. Hooray! We tacked up and marched across the scary bridge for our first real conditioning work of the season. I tried to keep it simple--4 laps trot, one lap walk, twice each way. That's .8 miles trotting, or 1.6 each way, for a total of 3.2 trot miles. So far, so good.

Then it was time to canter. We did three laps of canter, then one lap of walk, twice each way. Same calculations--.6 miles cantering per set, so 2.4 total canter miles. The kicker was this: I did almost all the canter miles in two point. It was KILLER.

It was great to be out on the track, though. I got to really focus on keeping my balance even on both sides and getting comfortable up out of the tack. When I first went up in two point, I hated my saddle and thought there was no way I could ever hold my balance in it. 2.2 miles of screaming thighs later, I realized that it was not that bad. Not good, but not that bad.

It was a good workout for both of us. We walked about a mile to cool out and return our heart rates to normal.

In other news, our thinline reins worked fabulously. I'll definitely get a pair for dressage eventually. Our thinline pad showed up yesterday, so I'm excited to try it out this afternoon. I -might- be looking at jumping saddles, too. Wish me (hypothetical) luck!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dressage, Take III

I -almost- had a jump day yesterday, but it was too pretty to ride inside and to uneven to jump outside. Plus, I really just wanted to put my butt back in the Passier. Happy feelings all around. Izzy looked adorable--I dressed her up in her dressage saddle and bridle with black polos, black bell boots, and her black monogrammed pad, plus we broke out the black fly bonnet for the first time this year.

Yes, there are pictures, but they are still on my camera. Tomorrow, my friends.

She was great. I need to work on developing more impulsion in our warmup, which will make our early work a lot smoother. She is moving better and more forward than before, but it's still not quite enough.

In other news, my thinline reins (won on ebay!) came yesterday. I'm putting them on the Micklem bridle today and we're hopefully going to gallop on the finally dry track. If it rains, we'll be jumping inside.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Husband finally got a car on Thursday (YAY!!!) so I got to go out and ride Friday and Saturday.

It was great.

Izzy is doing amazing on pasture board. She's relaxed, happy, and shiny. Oddly, she now also believes she doesn't need her ulcer meds and senior. I tried to give it to her, and she ate about half, then flipped the rest out on the ground.

Oh well--as long as I don't have reoccurring symptoms, I guess it's ok.

Anyways. I was using my new saddle (much love) and my breeches that I got for Christmas and hadn't used yet. They're Kerrits microcord fullseats that are AMAZING. Much butt happiness.

Izzy was great. We still had the lovely forward from our last ride, but I was doing better at regulating it. We did some shoulder in, a touch of haunches in, leg yielded, and even had a right lead canter transition. Plus, I finally seemed to remember how to half halt. Izzy tends to get more and more and more forward sometimes and ends up getting really heavy with her front end. I know not to correct with my hands, because that backs her off the contact, which is not good.

Instead, I used my 'whoa' aids for a couple strides, which brought her back to a smaller gait, then pushed her forward again. Yay rebalance! We did it a couple of times on Friday, but then Saturday, Izzy seemed to remember not to run forward through my aids, and I think I only half halted once. Insane. Love the Wondermare.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ugh More Whining

I hate to drag non-horsey crap into my solely horsey blog, but thanks to the vagaries of car accidents, insurance companies, and car hunting, I got 0 pony time yesterday and it's looking like another big fat 0 for today. Fail.

I hate hate hate used car salesmen. If you want to hear how much, you can check out my non-horsey blog here. I generally keep my horsey and non horsey worlds separate, but meh. I think I'm funny.

All car talk aside, carpooling with the hubby has translated to zero pony time, so I'm super glad she's out in the pasture chilling. It's good to be a horse in a grassy pasture.

I also spent $$$ on her yesterday. Sssshhhh. I won a pair of brown thinline reins on ebay to use with my Micklem bridle. I topped that off that settling on a half pad. You can see it here. It's thinline also, shimable, and pretty. I like sheepskin pads, but I think a skeepskin pad would have altered my reasonably good saddle fit too much, so I settled on a quilt pad with just enough sheepskin to flatter my vanity. Oh, and it's black. I'm still on a black kick.

I guess it doesn't matter as much that it's snowing now...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


The indoor arena was getting worked yesterday when I had time to ride, so outdoors it was. The only problem is that the arena was super deep and muddy, so I wasn't exactly sure how much we could accomplish.

Fortunately, the outside track of the arena seemed more or less ok, so off we went. Izzy was great. We could only do tiny little baby leg yields because there wasn't space to get off the rail, but she did a nice shoulder-in left and shoulder-fore right. I reminded myself (constantly) to sit up and keep a steady contact, and our transitions were actually pretty good. Funny how consistent contact makes things steadier all around, isn't it?

We're still having some right lead issues in the departure, but I think it's more my issue now. Izzy doesn't hesitate to take it, but she doesn't just give it to me. I have to stay in balance and ask correctly. No leaning forward. No awkward seat motions. No throwing away the reins.

All in all, it's good for me to have these problems because it makes me actually ride correctly. I tried to focus on keeping Izzy forward and ahead of my leg, and magically, everything else seemed to fall into place.

Now I'm am halfpad shopping... are all thinline half pads (with quilt/fleece) shimable? Anyone know?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Nothing like a missed day riding to inspire general pony angst. I'm reading reviews and shopping for shimable sheepskin pads so I can find something pretty and fluffy to use instead of our current boring pad situation. Need a touch of front lift to make room for Izzy's sensitive shoulders.

The problem, of course, is that everything I'm looking at is in the $200-$300 range, which I could do if I had to, but makes absolutely zero sense to do when I already have something that works and I have no idea if that option would.

Instead of general whining, I'll do a March Goals wrap up and Set some April goals.

1) Sitting trot. Again, every time I ride. At least on circuit of the arena each way. Begin to work towards trot/canter/trot transitions in sitting trot.
Shortly after setting this goal, I realized that the absolute last thing Izzy needed while dealing with back problems was some n00b bouncing around on her. I discarded it within a week.

2) Get Izzy FORWARD from the leg. For serious. Lots of transitions and study. Make this happen.
Somewhat... we have had some lovely forward days, but most days she just starts out lazy and sticky. I am encouraged by her willingness to work through her back in the new saddle, so hopefully we can make more progress on this in April.

3) Completely re-evaluate Izzy's current feed and make changes as needed.
3b) Have Toni out again to work on Izzy and see what progress we can make.
DONE! Izzy is now on 24/7 turnout getting a grass/alfalfa mix twice a day. She gets about a quart of Triple Crown 30% topped off with ulcer meds and bioflax20. I have her on a multivitamin at least until it runs out. We didn't make any progress with Toni, but I suspect that's because we were looking at hormonal issues.

4) Take a lesson. Probably dressage.
FAIL. I am trying to plan one, but schedules are not matching up.

Not the world's most successful month, but I feel a little bit better about where Izzy's at physically and it's given me ideas to work with if the problem crops up again this month, which is possible.

April Goals:
1) FORWARD. Read it. Do it. Live it. Until we have forward, we have nothing. One blog post a week addressing how I am researching and applying forward to our world.

2) Cycle back into jumping. The first event derby is in May, so I need to get Izzy and myself comfortable doing 2'3"ish stuff, since our goal is intro beginner novice. (Lame, but I'm chicken.)

3) Take a lesson in dressage.

That should be enough. We're keeping it simple and achievable.

Wondermare has approved this goal list only under the influence of a lot of cookies.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Butt, Meet Passier

This is the lovely package that showed up at my house about 9am on Saturday. It's a 17.5" Passier Lennox with a wide tree. Here's a quick shout out to Patricia at . She was great to work with and had/has great prices.

While the saddle was shipping, I emailed Passier to verify the information I had. Yep, wide tree (never been adjusted) and built in '97. Perfect.

I took some pictures of the packaging in case it didn't work out and I needed to ship it back to Patricia. (Yep, online store and they do trials. Fab.)

Here's the wondermare herself. It was raining and blowing about a million miles an hour outside, so I dragged her and all my stuff to the indoor to tack up there. I know this isn't a great picture, but doesn't she just look great? Glossy, clean, happy, healthy.

Only the glowing demon eyes let you know how she felt at that particular moment. She was a little bit wild...

Here's the saddle on her. This isn't the greatest picture, but basically, it was low in front and high in back, the direct result of it being too wide in front and thus sitting awkwardly.

Never fear, dear readers. That is exactly how she likes it.

I put it on with a thin pad and lunged her in it. As I expected, she locked her ears on it and was reluctant to move forward. "Hello," she was telling me, "that is not what you're supposed to do."

So. We went back to her favorite option. I put her favorite little front lift pad on, which filled the extra space, lifted the front of the saddle and leveled out the seat.

This picture was taken Sunday, when we got the sun back.

Anyways. She went much better. She didn't even nip at my foot when I mounted, which was interesting.

We had a great ride Saturday, and then I went home to think about it. My primary concerns were that while my butt absolutely LOVED the saddle, I wasn't too sure about the flaps. As you can see in the picture, they're pretty long. Also, The stirrup bars seemed farther forward than I would expect on a dressage saddle. Oh, and the high wither cut out seemed kind of ridiculous. Izzy has high withers, but the saddle is apparently designed for some monster freak.

See? Very high.

I thought about it. I looked at the pictures I took. Then, I trooped back to the barn on Sunday and saddled up again. I didn't wrap the leathers this time (gasp! starting to commit) because I wanted to be absolutely sure this is what I was looking for. Yes, I can and probably will sell and buy again, but this saddle needs to do me for at least a year.


Well, here it is. Sorry about the picture--had to beg a fellow boarder to take it and you have to take what you can get with those.

Izzy is balanced and quiet. She isn't bracing her topline against the saddle. I'm happy and secure.

Yeah, the flap is a bit too long for us. It will be a little better as my leg improves and I can drop my stirrups back down a hole or so. A short flap model would be better, but well out of my price range.

And did I mention that my butt is way, way happy? So good. We officially have a new saddle.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Pasture Drama!!

I made it out this morning to find Izzy's boyfriend back in the barn. I was immediately worried. He's a super laid-back horse, so I was sure he must have gotten hurt or something and I was sure it was my stupid horse who'd done it.

Fortunately, the barn owner was there. She told me that the other gelding who we all thought was laid back all of a sudden started to play alpha stud. He wouldn't let Izzy's boyfriend eat or drink and kept chasing him. He even tried to chase off the bf's owner in a very aggressive way. Apparently, he also tried to chase Izzy around and she told him exactly what she thought of that.

Which is to say, she double barreled him a few times and he decided she could still be queen.

The super nice gelding is in the barn to stay, even though I told the BO that I'm sure the behavior is the result of having a mare out there and if Izzy is a problem, PLEASE just take her out of there. I don't want to be a problem boarder. However, it sounds like she's a lot more upset by the other gelding than by Izzy.

Anywhoodle... not sure where that's going. Izzy is very much in charge of the stupid gelding. He goes where she tells him too. I suspect that if she had any maternal instincts, she would have protected the other boy, but she likes to let boys deal with each other.

Oh Mare.

Notes from yesterday:

1) Both of the saddles pictured are Passiers. Part of me really really wishes the brown one would have worked. So pretty. Will update more on the black one later.

2) Apparently, the amazing dressage girth runs about $220. GASP. Yeah. Not in my future any time soon. I am looking in to the calfskin reins, though.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Shopping Notes

As most of you are aware, I'm on a saddle hunt. Thankfully, it's much less mind-boggling this time around than it was last time, and no, it's not because my local tack store has improved and carries a decent selection of stuff I'm interested in. (They still don't.)

Instead, I've been more able to familiarize myself with Izzy's body so I know more what to look for. Stacey (over at The Jumping Percheron) is getting a Duett saddle for her lovely mare. Her horse is very, very wide. I know that a Duett won't work for Izzy because they use a hoop tree shaped like an upside down u. Izzy is wide and has big shoulders, but she couples that with reasonably high withers, which means she needs a more standard, upside down v shaped tree.

That means the top of the saddle must accommodate her high withers, then immediately flare out to make room for her wide barrel.

Another faucet of having large, sensitive shoulders is that Izzy needs a gullet that flares out towards the front.
This is a lovely saddle I looked at that will not work. Note how the panels remain parallel throughout the length of the saddle--no go. The back half would probably fit ok, but the front would pinch and Izzy would hate it.

Here is the saddle we're going to be trialing. Note the extra room around the withers in the front. It's very important to Izzy, so it's become very important to me.

All horses are different obviously, but these are just Izzy's personal preferences. I didn't just come up with this on my own--the gullet width was pointed out by a chiropractor and Izzy has since confirmed it. The shape I learned to look for by reading online about people who could do that. At first, I was in total awe that someone could recognize the shape of their horse. Now, I'm by no means an expert, but I'm starting to figure it out.

Enough about saddles! They will make our collective heads spin. In view of what Kate did over at Lucy's blog, I want to do a post on my hypothetical horsey shopping list.

First off, I am a total bridle nut. I guess if we keep with the tack whore analogy, you could say I have a headstall fetish.

So, Izzy needs a hunter bridle. Not just any bridle; an Arc de Triumph Tribute bridle. You might recognize it as the one that graced the front of the most recent smartpak catalog. So beautiful. Why does Izzy need a $400 bridle for a a class we don't do? Excellent question. Answer: because it's so pretty.

Next, she needs a Red Barn Matrix figure 8 bridle. Omg. Beautiful. Yes, we have a jumping bridle and no, there is no reason for her to go in a figure eight, but it's just so strikingly gorgeous on that horse.

Now that her head is covered, let's move to her legs. She needs a pair of Equifit T-Boots. I love the black/white contrast and the stud closure. Mmmm.

I want a pair of driving lines so we can do more effective ground work. It would be really great for those days when I want her to work but I don't feel healthy or strong enough to climb on, plus it would be a great mental challenge for both of us.

To go with our new dressage saddle, we need this girth. It will match our beautiful bridle and it's just plan fabulous. No idea how much it costs. It's probably best not to know.

Speaking of the dressage bridle, it's high time to actually get decent reins for it. I'm torn between fancy calfskin lined reins and my beloved pebble grip reins.

Yeah... so much pretty stuff. However, I'm currently enjoying an incredible amount of financial peace, so I'm not looking to break the bank any time soon.
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