A Change of Plans
On Saturday, I lined up my three saddles and inspected them closely.
Option 1: my favorite saddle of them all, the one that they will have to pry out of my cold, dead fingers. Favorite, as in: when its useful life at the barn is over, it will be turned into a bar stool or wall decoration or something else in the house. Favorite, as in: I’m glad I won’t be the one executing my will and having to explain to the cats that their inheritance has been cut by a 1/3 so the saddle may molder out the rest of its life in comfort. I tossed it in the truck to go out to the barn.
Option 2: my other dressage saddle. Somehow, every time I think of it, my mind immediately does the black-sheep-of-the-family cringe and tries to change the topic of conversation to something safe, like politics. And yet, if I managed to get through that moment and bring the saddle out to the barn, it actually fits me well and fits many horses well. I’m not sure why I don’t pull it out more often. Perhaps it is possessed by the ghost of a lazy freeloader, who recognizes that living in an air-conditioned closet is a better life than being used regularly and then turned into a bar stool when its time is done. Anyway, I looked at it, was convinced it would never work, and tucked it away under its cover again.
Option 3: my hunter/jumper saddle. It’s barely even broken in, but I tossed it in the truck because it has an adjustable tree. I figured if the panels fit ok, it would be the best starter option. For all that I love Option 1, I was pretty sure it would be too wide.
I tried the hunter/jumper saddle first, and the panels were all wrong. The One Saddle went on next, and as expected, it was just a bit wide. I decided to see how he moved with it, because it might work well enough with shims.
It was a nice idea, but it quickly slid so far up his neck I thought it might be trying to make out with his ears. I was perhaps a little optimistic when I called it “a bit” wide, but hey… love is blind.
After cursing myself a minute for not loading up the other dressage saddle as well—I mean, what was I thinking? Why did I not bring all the saddles out for the try-on-saddles day?—I got in touch with a few people and secured a couple other saddles to try. I also dropped the hunter/jumper saddle off at a consignment shop, because having one reprobate saddle is enough; I don’t need two freeloaders. Before heading to the barn this morning, I made sure to toss dressage saddle #2 in the truck.
Back at the barn, I tried the two extra saddles, but neither one was a great fit. Grudgingly, I tried on my second dressage saddle.
And a ray of light broketh through the clouds and lit the saddle, while a voice from on high said…
It’s a bit wide as well, but it did not try to ride up Fin’s neck when I lunged him. This one will actually work with a bit of shimming.
I packed up the saddles that didn’t work, and then I pulled the saddle that did work out of the truck again. Somehow, in the flurry of packing, my mind blanked and decided it needed to go back home to its cover in the closet. Seriously—it’s possessed.
I worked with Fin a little more, and then sat down to consider the question of his mane. It’s long, super fine, and lives to tangle. The only reason I hadn’t chopped it off yet was… I’m not sure why. Anyway, I butchered it and will even it up with a razor later (it’s too thin to bother pulling).
He looks a bit like a kid with a bad bowl cut right now, but he’ll get over it.
Or I’ll roach it, as I’ve been known to do.
Anyway, as I said, I changed plans today. Initially, I was planning to wait a few months to ride him, for various reasons. But as I was finishing up all my mucking about at the barn, the instructor helping me with Fin showed up. We chatted, I mentioned that I had lunged him with a saddle and bridle on, and it was a good day all around. I made a parting remark about just getting on him today, because why not?
She had a lesson to teach, but when it was done we pulled Fin back in from his field, tacked him up again, and I got on for a little pony ride.
He’s been sat on and has given pony rides before, so this was nothing new for him. But we hadn’t done it yet, so this was our chance to see how he handled it. He was super—stands like a rock to be mounted, walked off calmly, halted when asked, and was completely relaxed the entire time.
The next step will be to teach him the leg means forward, but even by the end of today’s session he was starting to figure that out—or remember it, if they worked on that before with him.
So it looks like we won’t be waiting a few months to get him going under saddle; we’re just going to jump right in.
Well, not jump. But walk with purpose.
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