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[personal profile] ornerie
long tme no post!

but whats to say?
pony pony pony pony pony. oh yeah, some work and random sca stuff but pony pony pony mostly. and who wants to hear about htat? I mean I hear myself and think "gak! this is what parents of small children sound like to me!"

sorry you guys :)

Raj is doing awesome. no, really. the guy is 27 this year. thats about 80 years old in human years. we've spent the winter doing careful conditioning...long slow distance to build cardio, fast work to build muscle and bone, pony yoga to build flexion. we've been working on collection to build the topline.

two weeks ago, we did our first CMO. went for it and did a long distance course (we think it was about 25 miles). and the bugger DANCED the whole way, finishing tired but happy. all taht collection work? the drill has been that if you want to jig, I'm gonna make you collect. so now when he starts jigging, he SNAPS into a lovely collected frame and holds it. the damn horse can (and does) canter in place when keyed up enough. the level of muscle tone that takes in amazing, and the fact that my geriatric arthritic pony does it is even more amazing. I am super super pleased :)

this weekend, a different kind of awesome...I've been toying with the idea of getting a new saddle. I love my Stubben all purpose saddle but its very , erm, MINIMAL. seriously. its a fairly shallow seat and is rigged for jumping so the natural pitch is forward. when certain ponies are bouncing out of their skin, there's not much to keep you there and I frequently get off balance or lose a stirrup, even at a canter. eep!

I'd been admiring my riding buddy Lisas saddle...its a custom built endurance saddle that is fit to the horse. there's some more structure to it (knee rolls, and decently deep seat and a pommel), so thought I'd go ahead and demo one. the nice people who sell them came out from Idaho and fit the demo model (super cushy :)) to HisNibs and I've been test riding it.

right off, I noticed that I sit totally differently. instead of cantering in two point like I normally would (precarious at best), I am SITTING the canter. I am finding my legs are about a mile longer and in a nice vertical to my shoulders the way they're supposed to be. for the first time EVER I actually got a compliment on my riding and posture. the gal is a dressage rider herself and said I was a quiet rider (for the non horsey set, thats a good thing. it means you maintain your balance and there isnt alot of extra "noise" with you and your legs and hands flapping about) she said I was balanced and centered and totally looked like a dressage rider. it is very interesting to me that my dressage saddle has never invoked those kind of compliments, but the endurace saddle with its deep seat and center fired rigging does.

one thing I did notice is that when I drop my stirrups in my dressage saddle, my legs drop several inches and my knees fall back. its actually more comfortable to be stirrupless. in this endurance saddle, I drop the stirrups and my feet drop down about 1 inch but stay in the same vertical plane.

we took it for a test drive the first day, out on som enice mellow hack path type trails. cantered for a long stretch....OMG! so easy! no bouncing out of the saddle! no losing a stirrup! I could keep my heels down and relax into it, making a driving seat so much easier (I pride myself on very rarely if ever needing to kick to get a horse to move out. one advantage of a giant butt and very strong legs means I can be MOST insistent ;)) using just my seat, i kept Raji moving at a lovely modulated canter. I found he didnt rush it like he normally would...I wonder if my two point habit involved some franting clutching with the leg, which he interpreted as GO FASTER? interesting. anyway... it was AWESOME

yesterday, we did a LONG test drive. went up to Taylor Mtn and did aobut 15 miles with some MAJOR hill work. I experienced the joys of a saddle with something there to brace against. Nomrally up and down hills, I get into two point and clench EVERYTHING trying to stay balanced and off the horses back so they have room to do what they need to do. its ALOT of work (Imagine hiking up and down hills desperately trying to maintain a perfect perpendicular to the slope!)  the new saddle? I could still stay vertical but there wasnt any pressure on my legs. that means the horse has full freedom of his shoulders and haunches as well as being able to bend in the middle.

and the best part? no galling. OK, Raji is an arab. he's an OLD arab. he has super delicate skin without the elasticity of a younger horse. EVERY ride over an hour results in some pretty painful girth galls (think of the blisters you get when your shoes and socks arent a match for the walking you're doing :)). they're sore, and I've done everything I can think of about it. I've spent a fortune on fancy girths. I'm religious about having freshly washed merino wool liners. I make sure the skin isnt pinched. I slather on an obnoxious green goo of lard, sulfer and beeswax to protect the raw skin, and I do it multiple times during the ride (this last one, the green goo of shame does actually seem to help...he still gets raw but its not nearly as bad. but it does gum up the $$ merino wool girth. meh>)

anyway, this new setup?? 15 miles of HILLS and speed? not a rub. not even the puffiness that tells me its irritated. that right there? is worht buying this saddle.

the extra bonus frosting on the cake? It looks medieval :) 

we're going to test drive it some more this week and then ship it back. if I love it as much after that as I do now :), I should have one of my own in two months. squee!!!! 

non pony stuff? oh yeah.

work is good. work is awesome. I got a terrific review (and accompanying bonus which will paint the house this year, which its needed for a bit). moving into doing more real basic science for a bit and less screening (its a pendulum and I expect it will swing back someday but its fun for now :))

SCA stuff is fairly back burner right now...looking forward to may crown and the elevation of a cute little red haired apprentice :), and teaching a knitting class at the dragonslaire ithra in a few weeks (I do love teaching!) other than that, frankly, I'd rather be riding these days....my heart seems to be up on the mountain in the woods with a happy copper penny pony dancing along the trail.....
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