Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Saddles. Again.

I had a saddler out to Echo today - one that we have had in the past, but have not used for a while. Tammy uses her all the time and really trusts her, so I was happy to give it a go.

The first thing she said is that she doesn't think my saddle fits Echo very well at all...considering we had the last saddler out about a month ago this is pretty frustrating! In her opinion it's too narrow and sits too high at the front, which is pinching her shoulders and sitting too low at the back, which, given that that is where Echo gets sore, is a bit of a problem. She was happier with the AST saddle we've been riding her in, although it twists to the left when she's ridden. Tammy agreed to let her widen the tree slightly and fit a balance strap to the right side, to clamp it down and stop it twisting.

I rode her before and after this was done and there was definitely some improvement afterwards. I could feel the saddle trying to twist, but the strap definitely stopped it happening. The saddler wanted to see her trot with the saddle on so I got to have a few trots just on the long sides of the school. She was very funny- she was absolutely dying to have a canter and when I asked her to trot she leapt up into a kind of half canter half trot- she settled after a few steps but it was very sweet. The saddler was pretty happy with it and so Tammy is more confident that she can crack on and do a bit more trot work.

However, this still leaves me with no saddle once we have finished at Tammy's. The saddle we're using is still really only a stop-gap. It'll do while we get her fit and into full work, but we had a bit of a chat about what to do next. The saddlery works quite a lot with Ideal saddles and she has suggested that we look at a brand new saddle where we can select exactly which tree will work and exactly which shape of saddle. Which is great, but expensive. I don't have to think about it for a couple of months, and I will obviously try to sell my Lovett and Ricketts saddle to cover a bit of the cost. It's a big decision, but I guess at least then I will know that it fits her.

So I will be saving my pennies over the next couple of months and in the meantime we will keep riding her in Tammy's saddle and hopefully keep making the progress we have been. I'm riding her again tomorrow morning out on a hack, which will be great. It was so nice to ride her in the school today though... Almost like having my pony back!

Monday, 8 April 2013

I rode my horse- twice!!!

It's been a really good couple of days. I rode Echo yesterday evening and the day before and it's been brilliant to actually ride again.

On Saturday I rode out with Tammy walking with me. Echo felt really good- she's much better in her contact now and felt really nice and straight. I was a bit concerned that her walk felt a bit rushed and a bit '2 time', but she relaxed after a bit and it evened out. She's definitely very forward-going which is great. Having been so spooky the day before when I walked out with Tammy, I was slightly nervous about what she might be like with me on top, but she was actually really good- it was less windy and she only had a little spook at some ducks flying out of the bushes, which I can forgive her for! We had a lovely trot and she felt fit and balanced and like a horse in work again!

When we got back to the yard I rode her in the school for 7 or 8 minutes. She's just doing big circles and changes of rein in walk at the moment in the school. She felt good, but I didn't! It's funny: Echo has always, and I mean ALWAYS thrown saddles to the right. This saddle that we're riding her in now is slipping a little to the left! The left!! This is very odd and has completely thrown me. I'm so wonky from Echo being wonky for so long, that I now expect a saddle to go to the right. What is interesting is that Tammy said I was pretty straight while out hacking but as soon as we went into the school, I sat to the right. I tried to correct myself, but I felt awkward and stiff and Echo didn't feel like she was enjoying me riding her at all.

After riding her, I did all of her stretches and put her Equilibrium pad on. She really loves all the fuss. You'll be pleased to know that she's still the same old Echo though, even with this 'boot camp' training- she broke out of her turnout pen again on Saturday. She didn't do anything silly, just wandered over to Tammy's mum once she'd got out! She's now going out in a slightly bigger pen with a little more grass and yesterday stayed put, which is a good sign. I have warned Tammy that as she gets closer to the summer and is in season more, she will go looking for boys when she gets bored. She's going to consider turning her out with a companion, but Tammy is so careful that she worries she'll get kicked. She's amazingly careful, actually. I suggested she doesn't really need bandaging at night anymore, but she wants to keep them on as she's worried that with her lateral extension shoes she might knock herself. She also gets turned out in all four boots and overreach boots, which she never has before. When ridden, she wears knee boots, because she once tripped over her own feet. Echo gets the best care there that I think she's every had in her life!

So yesterday I arrived at the yard and Tammy said that we were going to ride out with another girl and her horse. Tammy still walked as this girl is very nervous (so would I be if I'd gone through what she has with this horse!) so Tammy has her on a lead rein. It was really good for Echo to be out with another horse though. He was a little spooky and once or twice that upset Echo, as he made he jump, but generally, she was more relaxed with him there. It made her walk a little more slowly too, which improved the rhythm of her walk. We went for a couple of long trots and it was good that Echo didn't mind that Marty got left miles behind as the girl only wanted to do a few steps of trot. She waited patiently for the others to catch up and off we went.

What is really encouraging is how good Echo is with traffic. All the hacking is on roads at the moment and although they're quiet, you do get cars passing. They're all single track roads too, so the cars have to sit behind you until there's space to pass. I'm so impressed that Echo doesn't mind this. When we got back to the yard, I rode her in the school for a few minutes again and it was much better than the day before. I think Echo had got a bit more used to me riding her again and I ha got a bit more relaxed. She felt softer and I didn't feel like I was slipping to one side. We are still getting a saddler out this week, as Tammy is concerned about the saddle we're using. She has a prolite under it, which seems to be doing a good job, but it doesn't sit completely straight and Tammy doesn't want to do any more work in the school- particularly any trot work- until she's confident that it's fitting correctly. We're going to use the saddler that she uses, as they know each other well and Tammy says that she can be completely honest with her and make we keep going until she and the horse are happy. As I said before, I lost a bit of faith in my saddler over the last couple of times she's been out.

So it was a really lovely couple of days of riding. I'm leaving Tammy to it for a few days and I will ride her again on Wednesday. I have another couple of weeks off work, so it will be nice to ride her a few times. I've decided to wait before getting the vet to come and check her again- my insurance year has run out and so I need to be a little more careful about the money. As she's doing so well, I think I'll keep doing what we're doing until Tammy is ready to start some canter work with her, then get Ben to come and see her. Hopefully he'll see a big improvement! :)

Friday, 5 April 2013

Out and about

I went to see Echo this afternoon and had a really lovely time. She's doing so well- Ella, her physio, said her back was the best it's been since coming back into work this week, so things are definitely heading in the right direction.

I went out for a walk with Tammy riding her tonight, which was great. She was a bit spooky and, interestingly, Tammy said she was spookier than usual. I think that possibly has something to do with me being there. She always goes out with someone on foot, but when it's me, Echo seems to be a bit of a wuss!

I would really like her to start going out alone now, as she is getting a little bit dependent on having someone next to her. Tammy doesn't have any sensible horses to hack out with, so she won't ride her in company, which is a shame, but the few times she's tried going out on her own, she's stopped dead and refused to move. I'm well aware that Echo does this, and she makes you look a real idiot, doing big pony club kicks and getting nowhere! However, Echo's napping just becomes a habit. If she gets past it once, she'll probably be fine.

Tomorrow evening I'm going to go up and hack her out with Tammy walking with me. We're hoping to do the complete 40 minute circuit with the full amount of trot and then some work in the school too. Now that her back feels so much better, Tammy is going to build up the school work a little more. I actually think this will help her back, as she's usually much more relaxed and soft in the school. Having said this, I don't want to do too much, as it was probably school work that damaged her suspensories in the first place... It's certainly a balancing act!

I've been giving a bit of thought to where to keep her when I have her back from Tammy's. It's likely we'll go back to where we were before, but I'd love somewhere with better hacking. Well have to see. There are a few places with lots of forest hacking (since that's predominantly why we'll be doing it seems an idea to have good places to ride out) but there are other compromises with these places.

Anyway- I should actually get to ride Echo tomorrow, which will be brilliant!

For now, here's a picture of Tammy on Echo today. It's not a great photo, but walking along beside her, it was tricky to take a good one!

Daily adventures while training my young horse.