Last week was slightly hectic in terms of work and as a result, I did not ride Echo as much as I would have liked to. On Tuesday I only lunged, as I wanted to experiment with jumping on the lunge. On Wednesday I had a saddler come and fit a new saddle, and although I did ride, it was rather on-off in nature and never for very long.
The good news is that I now have a saddle that fits, although Echo was not overly impressed with the new positioning of it. I got a verbal wrist-slapping from the saddler because apparently have been putting my saddles too far forward on her back, therefore restricting shoulder movement. However, the position he put the saddle in looked unnaturally far back to me. He said it needs to be on or behind the back of the shoulder, but with a GP saddle, this sets it inches back from the withers. I could see that the saddle fitted better there, but I'm sure it was right back on her kidneys. Echo soon told us what she thought of that, as when asked to trot with me on, she just stopped! No bucking or anything nasty, but she felt distinctly lame to me. I got off and drove her forward on the lunge and she was fine, so my feeling was that it was just a reaction to the new position of the saddle. I therefore remounted and pushed her forward and she was alright again. A very odd experience.
I have now come to a sort of compromise. I am placing the saddle further back than I would have before, but not quite as far back as the saddler told me to. I will build up to this gradually, I think. The new saddle is fantastically comfortable though - far nicer to ride in than the one I had been borrowing.
So, back to my mad week. I rode her on Thursday and Friday, both of which were good, successful sessions, where we even managed to get some bend to the left! However, I went to Burghley on Saturday, so she had another day off being ridden. When I went down to the yard to ride yesterday, I found that they had already turned her out, as they weren't sure whether or not I was coming down. She was also in a new field, which is in view of the school. When I took her out of the school, a little mare who has become very attached to her went absolutely crazy. She charged up and down the fence, shrieking and squealing. Echo is normally very good when being taken away from her friends, but this was a lot to cope with! She tried to rear and spin round to go back to the mare, then called all the way to the yard.
Despite calming down considerably once in the yard, when i took her into the school to lunge for a couple of minutes, the little mare went ballistic again, thundering around and calling frantically. Echo was full of beans anyway after her days off this week, and couldn't contain herself. Every time her friend called she screamed back, throwing her whole body into it and charging around on the lunge in canter. I have to say, however, that her canter looked lovely when she was all fired up like that - very impressive. I had thought that she didn't have a particularly good canter, but she showed her ability to engage her hind legs yesterday!
At this moment I thought that I would not ride, as I don't see the point in asking for trouble, and I was planning to just lunge her and get it out of her system. However, after a good twenty minutes on the left rein, she had stopped calling back to her friend, and was listening to me on the lunge. I put her on the right rein and she was very quiet. Much to my boyfriend's amazement, I asked him to come and give me a leg up and decided that it would be best to just let me off the lunge straight away. She can be quite whizzy when I ride on the lunge and I didn't want her to be like this after having calmed her down effectively before. She proceeded to behave beautifully when ridden! After all that! She did call once in response to her friend, but it was rather half-hearted and didn't create an explosive burst at the same time!
This is definitely one of the benefits of having owned her for so long: I am able to recognise her moods quite well, and judge how well she will cope in various situations. Invariably she surpasses my expectations. Yesterday was difficult though, as she is not that attached to the little mare in her field, and there are lots of them that live together - the mare was not on her own when I removed Echo from the field. Had the mare not reacted in the way that she did, I don't think I would have had any trouble with Echo, but because she became so stressed, it made Echo mirror that reaction. I suppose that is something to do with the horse's herd instinct, but it is frustrating!