Friday, June 05, 2009

Running into horse people in odd places and experiments with tack

Dad landed back in the hospital this week, so I spent more time there, some of it fairly traumatic. The good news is--at least at the moment--he's doing much better. He is getting a pacemaker tomorrow, but assures me that the procedure is very routine. He is also looking at some physical therapy as well to help build up his strength and ensure that we don't all panic at the thought of him living alone.

As it turned out, his nurse the other day has a son going to horse camp this summer and a partner who is a horse person. She even knows a horse vet up here in Sonoma County! Not that we need one, but still. It's kind of an odd connection for a Berkeley nurse to have.

At any rate, it just goes to show you I can indeed find a horse connection in almost any situation.

As is so often the case when riding--as well as writing--I am in need of a smooth transition and I'm not sure I can carry it off. But if I don't carry it off, it means two blog posts and I really only have energy for one right now. That means combining odd horse connections and the benefits of connecting better with the horses by using new and different tack.

Steve and I have been wanting to try an English saddle on both horses for awhile, so he did some measurements and we made our way to the used tack store nearby to see what we could find as a starter saddle. Mainly, I wanted the closer contact and lighter weight of an English saddle, and I think Steve was also curious to see what effects that would have.

Lena was first, and she loved it. From my vantage point on the hill watching them, she looked much more collected and light. Steve's position also looked better, though both of us struggled a little bit with leg position. We also understand now why English riders wear pants inside their boots. Riding with your jeans shoved up to the top of your boots is a little uncomfortable. And distracting.

Bar was next, and I told him he looked very, very handsome in an English saddle, though he's not being particularly photogenic in this picture. He liked the saddle, too, though he really would prefer if I could just relax a little more and have more fun. Like I told Katie earlier today: "Logically, I know I need to relax, I just have to get the message down to my butt."

I really love how much contact I have with the horses with an English saddle, and I think it will really help get them more responsive to body movements. Lena is already pretty responsive--even before you get to reins. Bar is sometimes responsive, but was always been trained to go off the reins--that was his job, after all--so he and I have some work to do. But it's fun work, and we're both learning a lot. It's all good.

So. Not the most coherent blog post, but it's all I've got to give for now.


Kate said...

Hope your dad does well.

I've ridden both English and Western, and I prefer English - both because I have more miles riding English and so it feels more natural - and because as you say it feels closer to the horse, to me. I also use a dressage saddle from time to time.

I even have a daughter who only rides bareback - she says she likes to really feel what the horse is doing in the most direct way and that a saddle interferes!

Jessica said...

Thanks, Kate! I've been riding Bar bareback, too, and that's what I love about it! I just can't do a lot of fast work with him that way, yet. His spine and my tail bone collide most painfully. :)