Tractors, Saddle Fit and a Show

Although the title sounds epic, this will be a pretty bland post, especially because I have no pictures from this weekend.

Tractors

So as I wrote on Friday, our Thursday ride was wonderful. When I got to the barn on Friday after work, I was pretty excited to ride and thought to myself, “Is there any better way to start a weekend?” That’s when I noticed a really loud sound coming from across the road. The neighbor had his two ancient, constantly backfiring tractors out and was baling hay. If someone else had been out there with me, I would have had to raise my voice to talk to them – that’s how loud it was. But dangit, I was determined to ride. Who cares if I’m on a total greenie who has likely never heard or seen anything like those tractors?

Have a picture of Nibbles looking cute from April?

Have a picture of Nibbles looking cute from April?

Nibbles cared. When I brought her in to groom and tack up, she was already on edge. The whole time in the barn, she was trying to turn around and stare at the tractors, eyes bulging. I decided, perhaps recklessly, that I didn’t want sounds and tractors to be an issue going forward so I would ride anyway. Maybe itΒ was a selfish decision.

In the arena, she was tense and tight and distracted from the start. I walked her around the arena to let her get a good look around and exhale. That didn’t really help. Then I lunged her and she went around like a giraffe. That didn’t really help. Then I basically said here goes nothing and hopped on. I had my cell phone to call an ambulance, right?

All in all, she could have been worse. But boy was she naughty. Trotting was a definite giraffe impression with the most minimal effort ever to actually get in front of my leg. I figured it would be better to get her moving out then just walking around where she could overthink it. For the first time ever, Nibbles tried to buck. I’ve seen this horse buck in the pasture so I know what she did was nothing. But she tried it all the same. And she spun, tried to bolt, jigged, and generally melted down. It took 20 minutes to get a semi-relaxed walk and I called it a night. Sigh. I think the hay baling just blew her baby mind.

Saddle Fit

I didn’t get to go out there on Saturday; too many “real life” responsibilities. So I went out on Sunday with the intention to ride. Lo and behold, one of the other boards had taken her horse off the property moments before. This horse happens to be Nibbles BFF whom she is extremely attached to. So I arrived to Nibbles drenched in sweat, pacing and calling maniacally at the fence line. Sigh.

Rather than have two fights in a row, I decided baby horse needed a mental health day. To be fair, I have ridden her the last 10+ times I’ve come out. That’s totally new territory for her and, honestly, I didn’t want two back to back rides where I set her up to fail. I don’t think that’s fair to a green horse. Instead, she got a spa day and we had a saddle fitter take a look at the saddle I’ve been using on her.

Although it's obscure by a surcingle, this is my dressage saddle.

Although it’s obscure by a surcingle, this is my dressage saddle.

Did I mention one of the other two boarders at our tiny barn is a County saddle fitter? She’s going to reflock my saddle this week so I’ll try to get some pictures of the process. But here are the boring notes on her evaluation, mainly for my own memory:

  • Her left shoulder is more muscled than her right (she does go better tracking left)
  • Because of that, the saddle twists to the right in the back
  • She’s definitely a wide, which is what my saddle is
  • It’s slightly bridging on both sides
  • Overall, the balance of the saddle is good and for the most part it’s a good fit for her

So she’s going to build up the right front of the saddle to help compensate for her shoulders so the saddle doesn’t twist. She’ll also reflock the panels so it doesn’t bridge on her. I’m really excited because not only is she doing this completely free of charge (despite my insistence), she boards with me so as soon as we see Nibbles start changing, we can adjust the saddle. I’m really stoked about that.

Show

Is it totally wrong to want some of these? Photo from SmartPak.

Is it totally wrong to want some of these? Photo from SmartPak.

I mentioned very casually and at the very end of my last riding post that there’s a fun show coming up. I’ve made the decision to take Nibbles. I won’t get another opportunity this year for such a cheap, laid back show – hard to ask for a better first show. It’s not a dressage show, just an “open” schooling deal. What I haven’t decided is which classes we’ll do but I talked to the show manager and this is one of those enter as you go and pay at the end of the day deals. Score! We’ll at least do the sport horse in-hand stuff. But they also have a couple ridden classes that look very tempting. Two are walk-only and two are green horse walk/trot. Depending on how many horses are in the class, I think it could be really good exposure for her. At the very least, I’ll ride her while we’re there, even if not in a class.

The show is Saturday, October 11th, which also happens to be my birthday.

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