Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Saddle up - Part 2

Part 1

It seemed so unfair. I had earned much of the money in that account. But since it was in both mine and my parents names I had no access to it unless they signed off on it. I decided I'd open my own checking account as soon as possible, but that didn't help me in my current situation. I needed that money now.

So I started bargaining with my dad. His argument was that I didn't have a horse, so I didn't need a saddle. When I explained the situation of the borrowed saddle, he said that Blair should borrow another one or buy one herself. I knew that wasn't going to happen, so I just kept at it. Then I had an idea. I said that I'd take out the money and then put $50 a month into the account until it was paid back. He considered this for a few days, and then, an amazing thing happened.

My dad let me use the money.

So I ran down to the tack store and bought my first saddle. And I still have it.

It's a Crosby Mark VI all purpose saddle. In general I think that Crosby is a good brand - well constructed and nice, quality leather. However, right now the saddle needs a bit of TLC. While I was always pretty good about cleaning tack, I wasn't nearly as militant about it was I am now, so when I put the saddle away the last time I didn't completely clean and condition it. I just zippered it inside it's saddle cover and put it in the tack trunk in the basement. And didn't think about it for years. When I pulled it out to take this picture, I saw that it had some mold on the panels underneath. The mold stained the leather, which is a huge bummer. Structurally the saddle is fine, and I don't think the mold stains will be visible when it is sitting on a horse, but it's still a bit sad considering all I went through to get it and how much I used it. I've already cleaned and conditioned it thoroughly and I'm going to try and remember to pull it out a few times a year and re-apply the conditioner (which is supposed to inhibit mold growth as well as keeping the leather supple).

I love this saddle and I think it really held up nicely considering all of the hours I spent riding it it. I did end up showing Teeya in the saddle, but only for a year. Shortly thereafter I bought my first horse, Tyler, and used it on him. It was the saddle that I used to break Kaswyn, and we've showed many hunter pleasure classes using it.

But then we made the change to dressage. I tried to use my trusty Crosby, but my trainer strongly suggested that I find a dressage saddle in order to get me in the proper position. So after almost ten years of being a one-saddle rider, I found myself in the market for another saddle.

To be continued...

Part 3

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The quest for the perfect butt

This is how Kaswyn's butt looked in 2002.

It's not the best his butt looked, but it's the best picture I have of his rear from the side with him standing still. I'd have to say it looked it's best in 2005, when it was at it's most muscled and beefiest.

This is how his butt looks now in 2007.

Both my trainer and I noticed the deterioration of his butt due to his 18 months off. If you look at the 2007 picture, you'll notice that he has relatively straight lines between the "X" and the triangle, and the triangle and the circle. Ideally his rear should be a nice curved line all the way around. If you compare the 2007 picture with the 2002 picture you'll see that those straight lines used to be more curved and filled in with muscle. He put on quite a bit of muscle between 2002 and 2005, but you can still see the difference.

It's not only his butt that has lost muscle and shape. He has a little dip at the base of his neck that needs to fill in, and his shoulders, which previously looked like a steriod pumping linebacker, are smaller.

It's not that I'm surprised. Actually, it's expected that he'd lose muscle with time off like he had. Now we just have to work at putting it back in the right places in the correct way. The time off has been a real eye-opener for me and the feel I have while riding. Since we had to basically start all over with body building and simple straight lines I was able to concentrate on my position and his frame and stride. But I was also able to approach it with a more trained seat than I ever had before. Since we both learned dressage together, he's always been the most trained horse I've ever sat on. This makes it easy for both of us to pick up bad habits and mistakes along the way.

Now I know what things should feel like. I know when he's being lazy, evading, or not pushing from behind correctly. I'm even starting to be able to feel when he's not using his left hind correctly. I can also tell when I'm raising up on my right side, or letting my left leg slide forward. The weekly lessons and the few rides a month my trainer has on Kaswyn help a lot too. I'm better able to correct our issues, and let me tell you it's much harder work for both of us then ever before. But I think in the end we'll be better than ever.

And hopefully his butt will be nice and plump again by next summer. Or at least getting there.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

At least we were not in public

We had just gotten home from a birthday party, and I turned on the TV and was trying to find a nice show for the girls to watch while I sat down for a few minutes. Drake and Josh was on Nickelodeon, to which Lily usually says "This is bo-ring!". It was only on for 5 seconds, but in that time we watched Josh lean out a window, only to have the window close on him and trap him in the window.

With perfect timing and inflection, Lily says, "Oh, god dammit! He's trapped in the window!"

Now, I know I should have been horrified. And I was, a little bit. My darling almost 4 year old had just busted out a big-person swear word. It's not like she said "Motherfucker!", because I don't know if she's ever even heard that one (not from me anyway, and when Daddy says that nice one he's usually in the basement alone trying to fix something). But even though it was more nasty than I'd like to hear out of her sweet mouth, I started to laugh. Cause it was funny.

I turned my head away from her, bit my lip, and tried to gather myself. I needed to say something, but if I laughed then she'd think she was being funny and she'd say it again just for comedic effect. When I got it together, I asked where she heard that.

She said, "No place".

I said, "Does Daddy say that?"

"Yes." She replied.

I asked, "How about Mama?"

"Uh huh", she said, nodding.

So then I explained to her that she shouldn't say that because those are not nice words for little girls to say. I told her it was like saying "Shut up" or "Stupid". To illustrate that she got the point, she said "Yeah! It's like saying 'You're not my friend!' ".

Yeah, kind of like that, I told her.

Somehow I was able to give a little lesson there when my first instinct was to laugh. I don't know if I'll be able to recover as quickly the first time she drops the F-bomb. Lets hope she's 25 when that happens so I can laugh out loud instead.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Saddle up - Part 1

"Um, hey dad, can I ask you something?"

"Sure, what is it?"

"Can I please take $250 out of my savings account to buy a saddle?"

This was me at 19 years old, finally getting the nerve to ask my dad for money for my first saddle. I'd been riding for years, but never had my own saddle. I hadn't really needed one, since every horse I rode had a saddle already. However I found myself in a situation where I needed a saddle. Not wanted (although I did want one) but needed.

Here was the situation. I was riding and showing Blair's half-arabian mare Porteeya. I was mostly showing her Western Pleasure, but Blair and I both decided to try her out in Hunter Pleasure, a relatively new class. Blair had been borrowing a hunt seat saddle from a friend of hers for a few months, and now this gal wanted her saddle back. Blair didn't want to buy a saddle at that point, so she said since I was showing Teeya I should buy my own saddle.

It's not like I didn't have any money. I had been working since I was 14 years old. Most of my paychecks went into the bank as mandated by my father. He let me keep some money, but he was pretty hard-nosed about me saving most of it. So for years I had been presenting my paychecks to my parents to deposit for me. At 19 I didn't have a checking account or credit card of my own yet. Suddenly I was seeing a problem with this current money situation.

My dad was against all things horse. He didn't want me riding, but had allowed it because it didn't cost him any money. I was pretty sure that he was not going to let me buy a saddle, but instead of asking I started shopping. I was lucky enough to walk into a tack shop that had mostly western tack that happened to have a few inexpensive hunt seat saddles. The sales guy told me they ordered a few of them and they hadn't sold, so they dropped the prices just to get them out of the store. I sat in one that was the right size for me and I really liked it.

Now, at that point my saddle education was this - buy a saddle that fits the rider first, then worry about if it fits the horse. Truthfully, I never knew you even needed to fit a saddle to a horse. Blair had 5 or 6 saddles that she used on all of her training horses, unless the horse had a specific saddle. I didn't check saddle fit - I just tacked up with whatever saddle she told me to use. So this new saddle seemed fine, since it fit me great.

Now I just needed to get the money somehow. Time to ask my dad.

He said, "No."

To be continued...

Part 2

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Coming attractions

It's been awhile since I've posted anything. The truth is that there is nothing exciting going on with Kaswyn right now. We're both just working on building up our strength and endurance while correcting old bad habits and hopefully preventing any new ones.

We are working on half-pass, which I need to get some video of so I can update my Video Glossary. We are schooling both trot and canter half-pass, which is really nice for working on suppleness and collection. Hopefully we'll get some nice video soon.

I also have an upcoming post about butts. Stay tuned.
Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr