Monday, March 9, 2015

Dress Up Day

There has been an influx of new saddles at my place...well I mean that is an ongoing situation, but I am referring to new saddles that I want for myself.   While I sometimes want to keep lots of saddles for myself....

Like this one
15.5" Dale Martin rope saddle
Or this one

15.5" Salt Creek Saddlery Association Style rope
Or even this one
15' Ammerman/ Saddlesmith Roper
I find that these are usually really good money makers and to be honest, I'm kind of over the whole "My saddle has to weigh 500 lbs and be strong enough to drag a full sized bull" thing. 

Lets face it.  If I want to drag a bull I'll call one of the ropers down the street.   Roping and me mix like oil and water.  

However, I did keep the Crates cutting saddle I posted about last week, and have really been looking for a Fallis Balanced ride (at my trainers request).   Just for the record, those puppies ain't cheap! 

Then last week I found this.

On FB I posted that it was an original Slim Fallis
But it isn't.  It is a 1984 John Fallis, but still very cool

Ever since TC purchased the 7-D hard seat Wade style roper for Killian, (which is by far one of the best saddles we have owned) I have started becoming obsessed with the hard seat ranch style saddles.  I cannot get over how comfortable they are.  Most balance ride saddles I see are padded, so when I saw this one for half the price of what I have ever seen one go for, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it.  Yes I admit to putting myself into debt for this one.  

I had a big pro rodeo to work this weekend and pruchased the saddle just 3 days before it, so riding in it just wasn't an option. There was just no time.  But I grabbed an old saddle pad, threw it up on Melody and put the saddle on her.  

My heart sank.  No matter what I did, I could not get anything to sit straight.  It was tight on her shoulders, yet sticking up in the back and the pad kept sitting cockeyed.  I tried Trax, and it was the same thing.  I figured I would have to sell it.  

I did ride Melody in it for just a minute, and I love the way it sits, I love where it puts you in relation to the horse.  I understand why it is called a "balance ride".

So I thought I'd try Trax instead.  I put it on him with the same old pad and it was just as bad.  I called my boarder, who is looking for a saddle for her little Spotted Walker, and told her to come and try it.  

She tried it yesterday and called me while I was working and said it was way too wide for her horse.


Okay, maybe I needed to revist that saddle fit.

So today we played dress up day. 

I started with no pad so I could see what was really going on.   Here is Trax with no pad

When I rub my hand under it is a tiny bit tight on the shoulder, but seems to be good everywhere else. 

Here is Melody

The leather of the right front of the saddle curls out more than the other side.  I think I can shape it back in to place, but I actually quite like the way it sits on her with out a pad.  

Then I pulled out the good pads, rather than the one that is 5 years old. 

First Trax

That is a 1" felt pad, with just a few rides on it.  I think it is just a little bit too tight on his shoulders.  However, I'm not unhappy with how it is sitting over all.   The first time I put it on him it was sticking straight up in the back it seemed.    I have that issue with him and saddles quite often because he is hollow behind the shoulder (well he was....then he went to training and wasn't....then he got sick and now he is again) but never as bad as this was the other day.  Not even sure what was going on that day.  

Perhaps I had it on backwards.  

With Melody I tried something different.  

This is a thin pad.  I think it is an Equifit Tacky 2.  I really like this fit on her except for one thing.  She is VERY hollow behind the shoulders and for some reason it is accentuated once I put the pad on.  I took the inserts out of my Sharon Camarillo pad and put them in those spots, and this saddle lifted up off of her shoulders and had a nice even fit all the way down.  

With that in mind, I will try that with Trax as well, and see what it does for his shoulders.  

Since we were playing dress up I decided to pull out the Crates and see who it fit the best.   The crates is very wide, so I had a pretty good idea how it was going to go. 

Just as I suspect it, it falls right down on top of their withers.   However, when I added the saddle pads....

It fits much better.  However, even with that super thick pad of Melody's (1" felt with a fleece lining) I can see the skirt popping up just a bit in the back. She did not have the inserts on under this one.  It fits Trax about perfect.  I have never ridden in that extra thick pad so perhaps it can go back on the for sale shelf.  I think a 1" is plenty.  

So I am pretty excited that my new saddles can fit with decent pads, or the right pads. The old pad that I used for my original fit test, obviously needs to go in the trash, or become a dog bed or something.  Of course it isn't like I didn't get good use out of it.  It was the same pad I have used on Trax since I bought him, which was in 2012.  I used it for everything, all the time, so it has a lot of miles on it.  

Once we played dress up I let everyone out to the pasture.  They have been locked up for four days and I am sure they were happy to get out.  

The vet was here Friday and drew more blood on Trax.  His white blood cell count is normal, and his liver enzymes are half of what they were the last time we checked, which is fabulous! However they are still not in the normal range.  We will draw blood one more time and if the liver enzymes have dropped even more then it will be safe to say we are out of the woods. 

Tonight WE RIDE!!!!

ps.  I can actually lift both of these saddles up easily onto my horses.  So they weigh at least 15 lbs less than any saddle I have personally owned! 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Rock Star

Melody and I went to our first open show together last weekend.  We practiced really hard for the 2 weeks leading up to the show, and I think I am finally learning how to ride this horse.  She just moves so differently than Trax, it is like riding a completely different animal.

When we got to the show she refused to back out of the trailer. We had been working on this and she was doing pretty well, but for some reason this time it was not happening.  After 45 minutes of trying I finally let her have her way.  She turned around inside and did her signature vault out of the trailer Probably should not have let her do it, but I did want to be saddled and warmed up before the show was over.  We will revisit this issue again very soon, trust me.

I opted not to put her in any halter classes, but rather saddled her and rode her around the grounds during those classes. She was a nervous wreck, the wind was blowing and everything was terrifying. There was no real warm up arena, just a clear spot in the surrounding desert to lope little circles in.  It was terribly rocky, so I opted to move to the area where they often hold equine driving events, and although the ground wasn't super soft, it was atleast rock free, and we did some trotting and slow loping over there.

She finally started to calm down, and we rode up and watched some of the events.  In between classes we were able to go into the arena and acclimate ourselves.  Everything was terrifying to her.  The barrels outside the fence, the grandstand, the trail obstacles on one end..EVERYTHING!  Finally I got tired of her shenanigans, and smacked her with the reins and she realized that fake fear was not going to get her very far. She quickly settled right down. For the rest of the day if she started her signature "I don't like it" Shimmy Back up, she got smacked on the butt.  After all, she is a seasoned show horse, and I expect her to atleast pretend to act like one.

Once we got past all of that it was time to start showing.  We started with Western Pleasure, and got first place, I was totally shocked.  (on facebook I said we got second, but we actually did get first, I just got confused)  In horseman ship I had studied the wrong pattern, but the judge recognized that although I did the wrong pattern I did do the pattern I did correctly, and there for gave us 4th.

Then we did Western Reining. There were 2 "big time" reining horse trainers there with a couple of colts they had been working with.  They actually tied for 2nd place and Melody and I got 3rd. She did pretty well except that I really have to push her to keep the momentum going for out large circles. Other than that, she was divine!  Gorgeous stops, perfect spins, good roll backs, correct leads.just lovely!

 Then they announced that rather than do the Ranch Reining later and have to clear the arena all over again, they would do those classes back to back.  Melody was the last horse to go in western reining and the second horse to go in Ranch Reining. Which meant she had to do back to back patterns, and I had to remember back to back patterns.

She was still huffing from the last run when we entered for the next one.  I didn't push her as hard this time, letting her big fast circles be a little slower, and her slow circles were really slow.  I still had to really coax her but she kept going and I was very proud of her.

She really gave it her all, and it almost seemed as though she was starting to enjoy herself.  She did a fabulous pattern, although I thought that I had made a few mistakes by rolling back the wrong way, or asking for the wrong lead.  The 2 reining horse people left before this class because they didn't like the ground, so it was just us amateurs this time around.  One of my friends was also in the class and I thought for sure she hat nailed.  I watched what I considered to be the perfect pattern, and her horse looked gorgeous.  I was very happy for her, as I walked my horse to the trailer for a snack and a drink.


Okay...yeah...I realize it is a little open show with a maximum of about 6 people in each class, if that. But still it was a big deal to me, because we didn't fall apart, and we actually brought home a couple of ribbons.  It was our first time together competing as a team....and we didn't suck.

The sucking part came later!

I had tied Melly to the trailer after that. We knew that there were semis coming in with rough stock for the next event.  My horses are used to semis, so I wasn't concerned.  However, I turned around right after the announcements to see a big rig pulling in past my trailer, directly behind my horse.
While she is used to semis, having one come that close while she is tied was a recipe for disaster.  I was trying to determine if I could do a running slide under the stock trailer to get to Melly before she freaked out.  The truck was going just fast enough that I didn't think I could make it without getting stuck under his wheels so I opted to run around the back.

I was talking to my horse the whole time telling her I was coming, that it was going to be okay (but not really convinced that it was) and that I wouldn't let them run her over.  When I got around to her side she was pinned up against the trailer sideways. Her eyes were the size of saucers, and I could tell she was trying to figure out her escape route. I believe she figured that straight up was her best bet. If she had not moved, the dumb ass driver would have been about a foot behind her butt!

Now I realize that he needed to  take the path he did in order to make a wide turn, but seriously???? Would it have been so hard to give me a chance to move my horse, or to even ask someone else to move her? Its not like there weren't people all around.

I yelled a litany of obscenities at the driver, who never even looked back to see if my horse was ok, untied my horse and got her the hell out of there just in time for the next truck who literally would have hit her if I had not gotten her out of the way.

I expect my horses to put up with stuff.  I expect them to handle vehicles driving past them, I expect them to trust that humans will protect them. These jerks did not have any concern about my horse's well being.  They were pissed off that we were still having our show while they needed to be unloading stock.

Once we calmed down from that, it was time for our final class. Actually we had had two classes but I scratched from one because it required trotting over poles (which I didn't realize when I signed up) and I needed to give her a break after the reining classes.  Since I knew we would break pattern anyway, I opted to take care of my horse (who promptly got the beejeezus scared out of her) over placing last.

The final class was Ranch Riding, and was a pattern that was so complicated none of us could remember it, however the very nice judge called out each move a head of time.  The bad part was that it was done right in the midst of all the trail obstacles, so while we did not have to execute any trail obstacles we had to navigate through them.

The   diva   lost   her    mind.

You'd have thought I beat her with a pole or something. She was snorting and bug eyed at everything!  I finally spanked her and made her trot past the poles and to and from the various cones.  It was awful. Still we survived, even when the judge laughed at her staring at things and doing her "I don't like this" nose wiggle.

He thought she was hilarious.

I guess we did have one more class after that, which was working the flag (in lieu of a cow).  Melly was pretty much done for the day I could tell.  She will watch the flag but she won't work it like a cow.  It isn't anywhere near the same thing for her.  She was slow and sluggish on her feet by then.  It was fine, it was a long day for an old girl.  I am pretty sure that except for some of the horses that the youngsters were riding, she was the oldest horse there.  Even with that she held her own, and as far as I am concerned she was a total rock star that day.

Here are some of the pictures that the professional photographer took.

Western Pleasure

I'd like to mention that I was the only one in either
reining class who rode in a shanked bit.  Everyone else
had snaffles so they could ride with 2 hands.
Even the big time reining trainers.

Starting a run down I think

After one of the reining classes

My friend Heidi and I.  Her horse is Latte

She looks much calmer than she was

All in all we had a great time, I cannot wait to do it again, and I hope that next time I can take Trax too!