Friday, November 25, 2011

Thankful Riding

Thanksgivingtime is always a reflective, and usually, humbling time for me.There is much need, and sometimes suffering that is brought to our attention.
We have it so-very-good, most of us!
Thanksgiving , the holiday itself, is a recognition of blessings of freedom and family and tidings~

 Riding through the woods, while maybe being something that is not very beneficial to society or helpful to the needy- monetarily, or recognised by anyone as anything but  "pleasurable to me" .... is an avenue I take to connect to God through thoughtful and prayerful petitions of intercession.

 I greatly enjoy and look forward this alone time, riding solo, for the pouring out of prayers towards all I am aware of, in  need.  I make sure to commit my known blessings and also, the ones I am unaware of always , in safety.
 It does fill me with a sense of awe.  El Roi, a Hebrew name for God that means: "The God who sees and hears", is there to meet me while I ride and also, I am certain, attend to those mentioned in prayer. Not because of who asks(me) -but because of who is listening!

My Prayerful riding habit is another activity I am very THANKFUL for!

Such a peace of mind I get and connection, as I prayer-ride though the woods. My mare does wonder sometimes about me, always peering back at me while stopped.
Thanksgiving day (yesterday) was amazing-I got to Ride my mare in the Morning, and also go to be with my mother in the afternoon. WOW..Double whammy of blessings!

My boarding facility was ultra quiet yesterday, as all were either at  holiday gatherings or going to them. I have to mention too, before I go out and prayer-ride, I prayer walk the  stable aisles and pasture to my mare, thankful  for the Fabulous Facility I am in now. I love how my mind is at rest knowing of her good care. Plus, I love how clean it is always, me coming to find fresh water/stall and a happy-happy mare!

It was cold and somewhat wet yesterday, as we strode though familiar places. me bundled up and the mare with her wind -stopping ear bonnet. I heard some shooting in nearby places,  so I put on the Blaze orange bandanna as well, over her neck. She appreciated the bit less ride and was calm on most of the mud slicks we have to ride through these days.

The horse sign photo at the top of this page was a new addition on a country road near my stable. Seeing it this week, made me spout out-loud a hearty "THANKS LORD!"  for this  new safety feature addition to the country road near my stable and others. All the properties that line this particular busy road, are ALL HORSE PROPERTIES!

We are blessed..and I just wanna say...I see it, I feel it, I acknowledge it!

phone, color enhanced pic of mom yesterday...we went out for ourThanksgiving feast ~

Now you know- that if I read of need- 'cause you mentioned it on your blog or mine...I always pray for you. The photos I often post here, of woods, streams, mountains and beaches , they are where I take your cares,  and lovingly, give them away!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


This is one special* box.
This Fed Ex dude may not have thought so, specially when I raced into the office, and yanked him out of it abruptly to help me retrieve the box from my truck. It was so huge and getting it out of my home, through our gate and into my truck- was a feat. It isn't heavy at all -( I've carried Saddles heavier)  BUT- it is cumbersome and if anyone had parked near us, I would have had to ask them to move, to be able to get both truck doors open. It's the worst parking lot EVER! For how tight it is, it's a wonder I keep going back at all, to visit businesses!
I do though, and on the way there, I noticed the regular U.S. Post office lot..was FULL. I am glad that I went to Fed Ex, for the insurance built into the charges. I trust them more than the regular postal service..isn't that sad?

So the Fed Ex dude had put the BIG *BOX down already, when I got the idea to photograph it, before I sent this particular *BOX away for the third time....hopefully not to return to my doorstep again.  
This *BOX held my favorite Jump Saddle 3 years ago, as it traveled back to Bend, Oregon to be fixed up by it's original saddle maker, Hans Biglajzer.
It was Wa's  second saddle that we both loved till she filled in, and it became too tight. It weighed all of 10 pounds.

When I sent this saddle back to it's maker to be re flocked,
 Hans remembered the little saddle. He had made it for a Dr.'s daughter, in trade for a surgery his wife needed.
It was my sister's first saddle, as a teen in Pony Club, and the first saddle I sat in as a 3 yr old.

Now that BIG* BOX like I said, has taken a saddle  cross country in Oregon twice. I have a HUGE tube inside that a saddle fits on and some retired couch pillows, that are placed on either side of the saddle's panels. Filler stuffing on top and in's pretty cushy in that *Box!
I send MY NEW ANSUR saddle away to another whom read my blog,  and ikes ANSUR's thoughtful technology too. They thought to add a more forward riding habit , maybe even jumping, to their tool box of skills. They, like myself, know that this saddle is made for a broader backed, less prominent withered  horse.

 I brought the KONKLUSION saddle home last weekend, after putting all the blocks back on it. I never used any of them, I liked the thin, closer feel of the panels on my mare. I had a habit of always cleaning the saddle after each ride, so it really was not dirty at all.  I gave it the once over anyway, to spiff it up for it's potential New owner.

Off the saddle went and I am filled with hope and also; a great feeling inside of me  knowing that -I want the saddle to FIT their horse - as well as feeling great to them . If this is not the Perfect match, it will be shipped back and I will sell it to an unknown person. This potential buyer gets time to make sure it's right!
I pray it is all they need it to be, fitting the horse's personal shape and , I hope they fall in love with it as I did.

Happiest of Thanksgivingtimes to you all, my friends in Bloggerville. May God Richly bless you, His beloved

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Wrong ANSUR

My, my...this  issue of saddle fitting- It is a pain in the Patooty!

My senative TB  mare so totally agrees!

I rode my TB mare  near 15 months with the cushiest of all bareback saddles, the Cashel "Soft Saddle", in order to heal her back from the  last saddle we had tried in 2010...looking for an Answer for the next saddle solution....

 While the last used Dressage saddle I found to ride the mare in during May, June, July of 2010 was nice for the gullet/ shoulder width & had a raised pommel fo good wither clearance, it bridged terribly.
 It  also rode up against her shoulders as we rode, due to  the girthing billets  that fell  straight down, while her girth channel was forward. Yea, I've learned alot about saddle fitting on this journey.

At my wits end for saddling problems, I knew my mare needed time to heal while I figured out what next direction to go in for saddles. I got her the physical therapy for her body accordingly... and  I also knew riding without a tree, would be therapy as well-mental and physical.

So we did, we rode with our bareback softsaddle ...

And we rode......

JUNE 2010

All the while I was monitoring her back and making sure she was comfortable with how I was sitting on her. I used A sheepskin pad by" ENGLE"  under the layers of closed cell foam of the Softsaddle,and my "Thinline pad" over that.

She got happier and too!

August 2010

In late August of 2010 my mare sustained an injury due to a fall..the next week she was attacked by a cougar, having been left out to pasture with her pasture buddy Pantz, on a "nice night" in Sept. She still had some open wounds that must have attracted the cat enough to think -she was an easy target for the smell of blood(weakness).Both mares had wounds on their hind quarters from the attack, as well as deep tissue muscle/tendon damages to legs.

 I did not ride her again, till I moved to my new boarding facility .

October 2010
We took long  ride walks, on the  bareback saddle to strengthen her again, while doing stretching and deep tissue therapy every week .

I was still researching saddles and had begun to venture into the thought towards a treeless saddle.

 Healing nicely, with my sister aboard during our walk rides~
November 2010

I got the okay to do  lunging in circles finally, from my we began some core work for her back~

December 2010

She was finally sound and could step up nicely~

She shaped up and began to use all of her body* took* so* long* it seemed...but injury is like that...months and months for things to heal! And heal they did. All the therapy and time down, with careful habits, paid off.

                                                          March 2011

My saddle searching was still going and after using my stable mate's ANSUR saddle for a few rides and the mare seemed to enjoy it....

So then, after tons of research, I decided on the "ANSUR Treeless saddle". Though treeless, it was not structure- less. The technology was right on for airflow to the horses back and the gullets seemed pretty nice. I looked at so many companies, and this one was the smartest design going for billet/stirrup placement, overall balance and wonderful craftsmanship too! No Velcro holding it together, no wide layers upon layers. The structure in the saddle is truly dynamic for it's shock/trauma absorption .

My  NEW saddle, unveiled in the break room at ANSUR Co.

 Every time I  had mentioned some of my saddle fit  issues to the owner, that I had experienced with my mare before, she told me would not be issues with this design. I had to rest my worries on trusting that all I read and was told about the saddles- was true!
 LORD knows I was optimistically naive, but willing to trust, I had moved forward and made the decision.
Looking back, literally so, at this photo of  all the saddle models behind us, and the one model down front(my choice)  I now see what I have come to know as fact...different pommel and gullet sizes.
See the difference?? The 3 behind are a much different Gullet structure- being of a higher pommel and lower "point of width"- where the gullet will rest upon the horse in front.
Had I known this difference would make such a HUGE difference for fit on my mare-OBVIOUSLY- I would have spent all my HARD EARNED CASH$$$ more wisely!!!
The other jump saddle in the ANSUR line,  does have the wider Gullet/higher pommel  that would work...and I ALMOST choose that one. I sat in both and was directed from the owner to make the choice purely by, " how I felt in the saddles".
-NOW- while all this is said and written down here for the world to see- I do not wish to dissuade anyone from the ANSUR saddles. NO! That is not why I write this post. I do so to tell of MY OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE  and to also WARN the frustrated horse owner that may be looking into one of these smartly hand crafted and designed saddles. PLEASE BE SMART AND SADDLE FIT YOUR HORSE ALWAYS!

 I was OPTIMISTICALLY DOOPED into the phrase's in the brochure and online that said,... "one saddle for all your horses, that fits all your horses! This solves all your fitting, refitting, flocking, re flocking and saddle fitter expenses."

To tell you the truth...I SHOULD  HAVE HAD MY HORSE FIT, and I WOULD HAVE WILLINGLY PAID for it!!!  I did not do it, and paid for the expensive, but lovely saddle instead-that does not fit!

While my TB mare has a fairly typical body type for her breed, she is much rounder than most TB's and  after  riding with that wonderful bareback softsaddle for so long, making sure I had air flow, using my "ENGLE" sheepskin pad, and shock absorbsion "Thinline" over that, the mare was looking great!
She had developed quite a nice top line through the  engaged lunging and trail work we had been doing as well.
 So -the only other written warning I read did NOT cause me to think for a moment she'd be in this catagory- "For extreme conformations"..."we offer supplemental padding to use "temporarily" under the ANSUR"..." while the horse is developing a healthier shape".  That totally did not dissuade me either, to  maybe inquire about a saddle fitting- since she was full in her back musculature. It just never occurred to me that-" the SADDLE could be wrong" by being all together too narrow, without wither clearance for her.
It was kind of the point of me choosing this line and type of saddles
They were flexible and without rigid form

I am not the first person to make a saddle fit mistake, I know...but for how much I spent on this wonderful saddle, ordering it new and making sure all involved KNEW HOW DIFFICULT my mare was to fit...this being saddle 6 in 5 years. SOMEONE SHOULD HAVE HELPED ME MAKE SURE it was going to fit my mare!!! Sad but yourself, are truly your only advocate sometimes, for so much in life!

So, after riding the "ANSUR KONKLUSION" for 3 months..the mare becoming more and more unwilling to be saddled again, to acting out going down hills again. The last straw was the day I went for my first arena lesson In over 2 years (having waited till I thought she could mentally handle it for not having pain in body) ...OH MY..she exploded! 
 I said..this is NOT right and got off, took the saddle off and within a week she began to shed her summer coat to tell me the tale of woe...WHITE HAIRS EVERYWHERE on her withers and pockets.
My treeless saddle pad had actually kept me from noticing how TIGHT and CLOSE to her withers the saddle had settled to..being fully flexible.

NO GIRTH, just me aboard!

Sorry for the blurred shot sister was holding an angry mare-and- taking the photo of no wither clearance, once I got on the saddle.

I contacted the owners right away, I was so disillusioned that this could happen! I was assured kindly, that they could help me and they asked for photos of from like 10 angles, and saddle,  girth and padding. I complied, knowing that I had researched all of what I used with my new saddle!

Here, a photo from the first time I put my new ANSUR saddle on her, it does seem that there is clearance for her...yet the gullet padding sits SNUG against her withers on the sides. Since it is not a wood tree, I was not too worried.

first time KONKLUSION saddle  on the mare in JUNE 2011

Leather girth used while riding the ANSUR...though it does have elastic on the other side.

Always able to pull girth away from my mare, making sure it's not too tight~

FIRST > I was told my girth should be thrown away. Elastic is the enemy of these saddles and though I read all there was to read up on at the web site and brochures- NO WHERE did it say that I could RUIN my saddle with my girth choice. I had watched the girthing video my stablemate of "EQUINEMINE" blog had done for the company's web site. I knew NOT to over tighten the girth, I've always known that!
THEN > the saddle expert came on out to see the saddle and the other things regarding my mare. He saw that it sat right on her withers and asked me what I wanted to do or thought could be an acceptable solution. Having thought so much about this, because I had spent near $ three thousand dollars on this wonderful saddle- that was to be the end all for us, I believed.
 I said, " a new Gullet system or trade for a saddle that fit or have the Co. sell it, them knowing the clients that are looking for them..and a saddle credit."
He Then >  brought me his saddle to put on my was a newer model, that had a much larger pommel and wider "point of width" ( an unrecognised term at ANSUR, he said) for the gullet. It looked good too!! It sat far above her withers and wider away from them. It could be perfect...if I had only known to choose that style!!!

FRUSTRATINGLY > have gotten NO ANSWER from  the owners since the expert  came out...he ended up giving me two foam shims to "Tape" to my $3,000 saddle gullet...which I did and it was ridiculous! Tight fit plus 3 inches more..makes TIGHTER!
 I wrote a very detailed and sensible email, describing my continued problems and desperate need of help for finding a solution to this... to receive a note from the fitter saying...glad the shims worked and  you go ahead and ride your saddle!

So, with no solutions...I now write this blog post..I am dismayed with the lack of P.R.


Looking back I see my part in this problem. I was sorely mistaken to think that a saddle could fit - WITHOUT BEING FIT!
 I would gladly pay for the fitting to know I would not be hurting my mare AGAIN, with the wrong saddle choice.

I had to send some really ugly photos of the mare to the owner..who probably thought, "oou, what a swaybacked and underdeveloped horse, no wonder she has problems!" But, the fact is, she really got hollow and lost her tone on her topline, as the saddle began to really hurt her and sit on her withers.

I begin again...healing the mare and hoping she may look like this again by spring- fit with  her back muscled up again, and,  with no white hairs of the poorly fitting saddle!

~Post Script~
I do have some VERY HOPEFUL and  good news to share soon, about selling my 3 Mo used ANSUR KONKLUSION All purpose saddle!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Good Clip

While enjoying the nice fall  days and riding out normally, I had discovered that my mare was sweating, but not drying off normally.
 She has her new winter coat in full bloom.
I would put her wicking cooler on, after allowing her to roll some of the moisture down in the arena after rides.. but even with that...the wet hair remained on her chest, flanks, belly and hindquarters. I resorted to also towel drying her off with little results to my liking, or hers...she hates me rubbing her, all all!

So the trace clip it is- for my mare this fall.
phone photo

 While I did not have to use it last year, with the mare healing from  injury and not being worked. This year, it is different altogether...we are regularly hacking out doors and working in the arena on the long lines and lunge.

The BIG DOG CLIPPERS by Oster, my sister used for the broader areas, were really loud. They have 2 air vents, to stay cool and blow air as you clip. They are like 30 years old and work perfectly, as she takes good care of things.
 Wa once or twice, hopped up, as my sister went under her belly area and the air blew, and hit her somewhere else!  She moved not out of position, but was nervious. I decided to use my smaller body clippers, without the air venting for the small tight areas- and under her belly. The pencil drawing- converted photo above...shows how the mare watched, as my sister clipped, almost holding her breath.

She was so good!
We would use the BIG DOG CLIPPERS till they needed to be cool- sprayed and cleaned. Then I would use my smaller, refining Whal clippers, till they would need to be shut off and cooled down.
The mare just stood contently waiting for the next break from clipping and of course, the "goodgirltreat" that followed.

phone photo converted to oil

I love this Pony Club Manual book.

 It has so much(covers about everything) GREAT information in it and of course, the kinds of clips and why to use them.

All done, we went into the light for a better look.

phone photo

I tried it out yesterday...seeing if she would get wet or not while hacking.
It was plenty cold out, so I employed my quarter sheet. She seemed to appreciate that. I appreciate my 3-step Blue B-day prezzie from my sister!

..UM...we both got really, really wet because it started to SNOW as we strode .

phone photo

As the mare and me took turn after turn, away from the stables we were refreshed by the sights.  Now normally, she would have a somewhat contrary opinion ..maybe asking or sometimes-telling me- which way to head (home!)...but having the flakes floating made all things look so new- for the both of us!
Our Pond view was very beautiful this day. We watched and waited while it snowed around- and not on us.  We were in a reprieve under big fir bows, away from all the wet, luscious flakes.

phone photo

Oh, such a sweet ride we had, trotting making transitions from extended to collected. Wa does have a smooth- as- butter collected trot, that even riding without saddle stirrups is to swoon over. She also gave me a very nicely controlled canter up and around the Christmastide farms. The snowing day somehow erased any opinions she may have had towards anything adverse!! No rushing, no tossing...It was the best.
And she was not in the least wet when we returned...nothing our cooler did not wick off in 10 minutes.
She was yawny...per usual, as I took the gear off.

Nice knowing that with this trace clip, there are no worries about my mare having cold, damp hair after riding. With some freezing nights we have had of late. Her blankets now keep her warm too, in the higher elevations of her stable location.

So all has been well on the horse front. Posting lately has been difficult, as our computer is fizzleing out. I have another post scheduled for Monday (I went ahead and scheduled it to post, as I never know if this blame computer will allow me to work online or not.) about saddle fit woes of my NEW "ANSUR KONKLUSION".

And, some more news later on  such a blessing of a development with this saddle delima. Its all good.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

November Goodness

"Falling Back" an hour last weekend, coming out of the daylight savings time, is making  us step up the ride TIMES-in order to not be in the dark.
I readied my mare....and then hurried up to wait for my sister to pick us up.....Wa mare did not seem to mind as she grazed by the drive. It does get dark so much quicker, we had to be on our way home, before the State park we were going to this day closed.
Until I get the" Load leveler bars" installed on my trailer, Sis will be taking us places. I will feel much better about hauling mine, one that weaves if alone making the trailer rock. AND-  safer knowing the ball will never come off the hitch with them installed- for when I assume the care/responsibility for others horses as well.

.. Um...for this sunny weekend -EVERYONE else- had the same plans- Head to the Equestrian park!!! I
While it was still on the crisp side- it was dry! Look at the parking lot...almost full!

Sunny goodness we've had in these parts of Oregon mostly for November.  What a gift to ride being able to remain dry. Off we strode, on down the trail at McIver State Park. I went first, to start with,  simply because my mare has begun to balk, not wanting to go down the hill and over the bridge. She'll follow fine, but the balking at going first is what I wanted to face today with her. She and I were riding with the cushy bareback saddle and she was aside from maybe a little stiffness, no pains coming from tack... (no excuse!).

It was GREAT to NOT have to wear our BLAZE ORANGE vests and neck covers on the horses!!! I do love seeing my mares mane and neck. But untill our hunting season is over, riding here in the horse park, will be one of the only places I get to see her naturally.

My "Turbo Trailrider" stablemate took this the day before, from her phone~

Most the times I have ridden in our local horse park here, there can be a full parking lot like it was this day, but you hardly ever end up seeing many riders, for the vast space the park offers. It is kinda cool. NOT the case this day for us sisters...we met with many various riders. I normally execute a yield, as my mare is "personal space challenged" and can intimidate other horses with her uppity ways.

 I never wish to endanger anyone over right of, if they have not thought to stop out of the way on a narrow trail, I make sure I have myself off of it, and out of the way for them to pass us by. We did this quite a few times, with willing steeds and no incidents. Sometimes people thank us for yielding..sometimes I thank God-  I did it -cause they amble and allow their horse to reach out towards us or even get close enough to touch.
 I'm sorry, but to me this is not right( unless they want to get in a tangle of hooves) and so I like to take charge and get the heck out of their ways!

My sis and Pantz mare lead the way mostly, while I made sure my mare had her attitude for leading in check. She was pretty great this day.

Down by the river, we paused for the watery sights below after we had trotted the straight "Dam road", to the end.

Pantz was good today mostly, but once I headed back to allow others to pass or went further away to take a photo...she'd get uppity and not stand for my sister. Pantz rarely stands normally anyway. My sis  and I have plans to do some training next time out for "coming and going- away and back" with these two horses. Mine could care less to head away from Pantz...but Pantz..ooou she flips somewhat.

My mare's issues stem from a nervousness with new horses. I mean-remember when there was that new horse, "The RED HORSE OF DOOM" I called him, at my stable for a few weeks, while the owner was selling him-??? She was beside herself and he was not ever close to her. So my point is...she just has issues with strange horses..she takes it personal if they look at her and she can be a handful. I would practice calming her and having her behave while around them...but they would not be NEW would they if I could practice with them!
So, this sister was on me about my attitude and the way my mare acted around close encounters on trails with strangers. To me, I have overcome SOO MANY obstacles with this mare and to try to make her walk calmly ,closely by a new to us asking alot. I would much rather yield, as I said before..I KNOW how that situation ends up and a controlled environment for all.
So Once -I listened to her- actually just got guilted into keeping my walk pace up behind Pantz as we passed some strangers on the trail..their side was cliffy, ours was on the upside. Then, what does my sis do??!! SHE STOPS..CRAP-OLA...! I said, "Hey, don't stop please!!!  But, it was too late, my mare wigged out and began to canter in place before I could turn around...those poor other riders! The first horse took her at her word( her bad evil eye going out towards them) and began to act up himself, wondering where he could escape turned out okay, as I made her go by quickly but...after apologising profusely so to them, I told my sis, I would not do that again! 

 We chilled out for a second and then resumed the end of our ride that crisp Fall day.

My sis was mad at me, telling me I brought it on somehow. Well, here is where I differ greatly from her. I rather think I'm a realist and though sometime I may try to change a situation and turn it into something else..I was So NOT PREPARED to wing it today- and knew I did not have permission from the strangers to involve them in my training issues of a hyper-sensitive- TB mare!
So all that aside, we did have a great ride...the mares were relaxed and though we canter twice ,for like 200 feet, and trotted up the "Dam Road", they were very wet for thier winter coats are in. So we put theirs coolers on them for moisture wicking as they mucnched grasses.

We also made a plan for the next time my siter is in town...days from now, to have a "clipping session" for both the mares. I have had to towel mine dry several times in the past 2 weeks for not wanting to put her blanket on over wet hair.
 So...trace clips it is...I am excited, I alway love how they look -and-
love how they work, even more!

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