Monday, November 30, 2009

The Right Equipment

Apologies for no pictures, it's raining here, yet again...
I had to share though. For years I've been riding in my much loved, perfectly fits me, Steuben AP saddle, since I like to do just about everything and have a strong leaning towards combined training, doing a little dressage, a little jumping, and heading out on trails now and again, my saddle has done well by me. It also has the added bonus of actually fitting all of my Curly horses, which is super nice.
Over Thanksgiving, my Aunt Gale and Granny, from Maine, came to visit, while they were here, I was showing them pictures of my stud colt's sire, Sandman's Magic, for the fun of it, i showed a couple pictures of me getting the opportunity to ride him, while I was visiting Shelly of Curly Standard Place, in Canada, in order to pick Sandor up. While looking at the pictures, it occurred to me, that I really am never able to get my legs and seat in quite the right place while riding in my Steuben, it was very clear in a couple of the pictures of me riding Sandman, in Shelly's Isabelle Dressage saddle, that I was closer to where I needed to be. That coupled with a recent discussion on the Curly Haven forum regarding dressage saddle, and well, I decided, finally, to get my very own dressage specific saddle.
Actually I happened across a Wintec Dressage 500 in the used section of my local tack shop, which had hardly ever been used, for about half the price, it felt good in the store, to sit in, so I brought it home.
I FINALLY got to ride in it this morning. I have to say I'm pretty well in-love with the saddle. Now if you're looking for a super deep seated saddle that forces you into the right position and then holds you there, this is NOT the saddle for you. But if you are hoping for a close fit to your horse where your legs are naturally encouraged to drape down straight underneath you and where you feel naturally in sync with your horse and as if you can just think of what you want to be doing and your horse "gets it" through your seat, a saddle that encourages a live, easily transmitted and clear conversation with your horse, well, this might be the saddle for you. In many lessons over the years, I've ridden in a number of saddles. I personally don't like the super deep seats, I want to be able to move, I also end up feeling too far removed from the horse's movement in them. So, for me, this saddle is fabulous, I highly recommend it! To top things off, it was raining pretty much the whole time I rode Rhys in it, and I didn't feel like I had to worry, go synthetic!!
Right, so the ride...
Rhys has been living alone these past few months, none of my mares were getting bred this year, and he doesn't really play nicely with Sandor, so, sadly for Rhys and Sandor, they only get to visit over the fence line with each other. The nice thing about this, is that when I take Rhys out to ride now, he has LOTS of energy and he's just begging for a job and something to do with it. Riding in the Dressage saddle, the communication between us was like tapping into a live wire. Today was one of the best riding days we've had together to date. He was light and responsive, and I could feel Everything he was doing/thinking long before it happened. I had merely to think the thing and we were doing it. Granted that was just walk/trot/canter and different combinations and speeds/extensions of each, but still. We went from a canter to a halt, with a thought, no pressure on the reins at all. From the halt straight to a trot, with a thought. We did some seated extended trot, no problem, my body was able to fluidly and easily "bounce with his bounce" as Elaine so wonderfully explained recently. For me it seems like a stomach thing too, letting your diaphragm expand and contract with the horse's trot along with letting your hips relax enough to go with the movement or bounce. At any rate it was absolutely wonderful. I've never been able to do just quite what I did with Rhys today, while riding in my Steuben. I'm thrilled with how today went and am looking forward to tomorrow's riding session! Will have to see how the mares respond in this saddle, but we are still a solid month+ before I'll ask any of them to carry me, they are working hard enough feeding and schooling their foals. :-) At any rate, using the right equipment for the job, really does make a whole lot of wonderful difference in the accomplishing and ease of doing a thing.
I hope you are all having a marvelous day!
Best,
~Heather

2 comments:

  1. Heather,
    I love your thoughts on saddles...I take lessons in English and have been using a Steuben 16 seat for years and a friend let me try out her Isabelle....it was nice...but I love Wintec - OK, first, I am an old lady and I like a lighter weight saddle...then you ask why what you be riding in a western at home - OK I am in TEXAS...but I hear they make a Wintec western saddle....maybe Santa will bring one:)
    Best wishes,
    Angie

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  2. Oh yes, I love the weight factor too, especially when working with youngsters and helping them to know the saddle is harmless! Also I have kids and other women who like to be able to tack up on their own, the lighter weight makes it a lot easier for everyone, including the horse whose back said saddle is landing on. Anyway, yeah, I'm super excited about this saddle and the Wintec's are economically priced. On the wintec western saddles... I've heard that they are great, especially for say trail riding. However I've also heard that structurally for things like roping or even penning, they move too much and are not really designed to perform well under those pressures. That said, I'm not an active cowgirl, nor do I live in Texas, so, from me, it's just what I've heard, no personal experience. I'd give one a whirl if I were you though! I hope Santa brings you one! :-)
    And... go you for taking lessons!! and in an english saddle no less, very cool!! One of my secret wishes is to duplicate a guy I met in NY at a team penning event... he, hands down, won the event with his team, he was brideless in a dressage saddle, complete with white breeches and tall black boots, what a riot he caused!, his horse was absolutly amazing. Some day... :-)
    Best,
    ~Heather

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