Friday, June 08, 2012

A week of rain and horses

Last Sunday after doing some work around the farm with the help of a friend, Guinevive convinced Chuck that it was time for a ride.  As the boys are in the furthest paddocks, we loaded up the truck with saddles and other riding essentials and drove on out.

Chuck on *Sun
Guine pulled *Red out and started to saddle him up, only to discovered that the girth she thought would fit did not, so she decided to ride him bareback.  Chuck pulled out *Sun and put the Barefoot, a treeless saddle, on him but left him in a rope halter for the ride.  As it was the first of the season they had already decided to keep it short.

Guine on *Red; Chuck on *Sun
Chuck climbed up onto the tailgate of the truck and I brought *Sun up to it.  Chuck got on and we made sure everything was adjusted correctly.  Then he began walking *Sun and I went over and gave Guine a leg up onto *Red.  Off they went.  They kept at the walk, except for a couple of trots that *Sun offered that were easily brought back to the walk by Chuck.  They meandered down 2/3rds the length of the field and then decided to climb off and walk the horses back.

Monday brought out Linda Corey, our Equine Dentist.  Linda has cared for our horses since 2002 and does so without sedation.  Those horses that need sedation I get our vet to do later (that appointment is set for next week).  I am all about having a horse have a pleasant experience and have no problem calling it off if I think it might be otherwise.  We started with *Red, and while I held the halter and kept my left hand on his nose to keep his head lower, Linda floated away.  For those of my readers who are unfamiliar with dental care for horses, the dentist uses very large files to file down sharp edges and hooks that develop from chewing their grass and hay.  Horses have their complete tooth in their jaw and as they chew and wear it down, the tooth erupts further.  Rarely do they get cavities due to their diet although occasionally they may develop a problem due to an accident.  All in all, we got three boys and three girls done.  For more information and a great video visit Traditional Equine Dentistry.

Tuesday, I did manage to take both Silken and *Walker for exercise walks up and down our hill before I had to get ready to substitute teach.  Both of them are beginning to develop better muscle tone.

Silken trots at liberty
Guine & Silken
Thursday Guine and I took Silken down for Guine to test the waters on the ground.  It has been three years, at least, since Silken was ridden.  I’ve worked her this year, but Guine had not and wanted to make sure she would listen to her.  She took her through walk/trot/canter up and down transitions, some disengagements and worked on side passes.  Then we set up cross rails and she jumped them a few times.  While Guine was working with her, I was busy taking photos and video.

Guine and Silken trot on!
Saddling Silken
Today, I brought *Red to the round pen and showed Guine how I work with him.  Then it was time for Silken again, but this time Guine rode her, first in the round pen and then outside the round pen.  Outside she took her on a brief canter as well and then rode her up to her paddock.

You might wonder why I included rain in the title?  That is because it rained, at some point, every day hampering our ability to work with more horses than we got to.  Oh well, there’s always next week!

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Saddle Fitting 201

Now that Guinevive is here it has decided to rain.  On Saturday, it didn’t just rain, it POURED.  So she took that time to clean up our all-purpose, hunter/jumper, and Wintec saddles.  Today, as we had a break in rain this morning, we loaded up the truck (after I washed all the manure out of the bed from having made a delivery in the rain yesterday) and visited all the horses to check which saddles fit them better.

2 fingers between point and shoulder blade
In fitting a saddle to a horse it is imperative to make sure you have placed it in the correct position first so that the saddle never impinges on the movement of the horse’s shoulder blades.  You want the forward points of the saddle to be an inch or two behind the shoulder blade; we use two finger widths as an easy and portable measuring device.  Additionally, you want the saddle short enough so that it doesn’t go beyond the last rib as there is no way to support the rider’s weight if it does.

Flatten fist for measuring the pommel arch
Next check is the distance between the pommel (or horn) arch and the horse’s withers.  If you are not on the horse, an easy measurement is a flatten fist.  If you have a rider who can get on the horse, then you want a distance of about two fingers.  The flatten fist also allows you to ensure that the width of the arch isn’t too narrow so that it doesn’t pinch the horse.

Once these are assured then you will want to saddle up and ride the horse.  If you ride hard enough to produce sweat and then take the saddle off you should be able to see the mark/shape from the saddle on the horse’s back.  It should be a complete print without any missing spots.  For a more complete description of all you should check please visit this  great site!

As I mentioned above, we went around to all the horses, except *Walker who uses a treeless saddle and *Glory who is completely retired, to find out which saddles would be the best choice for them.  Once one horse had had a saddle on its back, all the others were eager to try one on for size and came up to whomever had the saddle in their hands to “present” themselves.  Even young *Andi, who is too young for riding in our opinion, just had to try them on!  That little lady is one horse who just loves to try new things and do whatever the human next to her suggests.

Beautiful Z Silken, our saddle model.
We certainly enjoyed our time with them and hope you also had a great day with your horse!