Thursday, July 22, 2021

We Finally Have A Saddle Again

While I did really really like the Pandora, mostly due to how easy it is to adjust and the fact it was 9lbs, I just can’t see dropping that kind of money on a fancy endurance saddle when I don’t do endurance at the moment and my reality is that getting to even trail ride happens maybe once a month. I’m crossing all my crossables that when Hamilton returns we can start doing some short family trail rides this fall with Hubby on Eeyore in the front, Wyatt in the middle on Gem and me bringing up the rear on Hamilton. If we start going out multiple times a month, maybe it would make sense. I’m keeping my eyes out for a used one, but they are few and far between and seemingly always obnoxiously purple which is the one color I can’t get myself to like or even grit my teeth and deal with. 

A super cool signature spider made a home in the tack room. It’s a bit early for them to be out. Usually the trees get covered in various orb weavers and signature spiders come September. It was neat seeing this one and I left him undisturbed. 

In the meantime I need something to ride as both Eeyore and I are going insane with this prolonged rest period. When I dropped my Wexford at the consignment shop in Aiken I spent some time looking at what they had to offer. The Synergist and Tucker came from there but both were pretty pricey and neither were a good fit. I happened to wander into the back room and saw an Australian saddle. Having never seen one in person I was curious about it so I pulled it onto the stand and sat in it. 

Wow…that thing was comfy! A bit heavier than I’d like but still lighter than either of the other two. Unfortunately that one had a pretty narrow gullet, so I didn’t even bother to trial it. It did give me something to look for. Shortly after I found a wide gullet saddle for a great price.  In fact, the shipping was almost the same price as the actual saddle. 

Eeyore likes to check everything out before it goes on him. He started licking the saddle and then tried to take a chunk out of it. He is my Doofus…you’ll have to find your own. 

There were some issues…I bought it on July 3rd with estimated delivery the 12-15th. When the 15th came and no saddle arrived I messaged the seller that I needed the tracking info and/or the saddle within 24 hours or I’d be reporting them to both eBay and PayPal. That was around 7 pm my time (they were shipping from mountain time). Wouldn’t you know it but a shipping label was created at 950pm that same night and the saddle arrived Monday? Sheesh people. I did my end, you do yours. 

Anyway. 

I’ve been having a string of bad luck where it seems like everything I do or touch goes sideways, so I waited until life seemed to settle and finally took it out of the box Wednesday night. I was surprised to find a shaped felt pad and a girth in the box. Good thing too because I didn’t realize the girth is totally different than anything I’ve seen or currently own. 

An overgirth. The one end has regular English buckles. The other has one standard English buckle and one longe leather strap. This piece goes up through a ring high on the saddle flap then back down to the buckle. They tend to come in small, medium and large from my brief research. This is the small, 32”. 

The saddle is pretty well used and needs some good leather TLC, but for $250 I’m actually pretty pleased with the condition. Nothing is ripped or broken, just very dry and a little worn. From my research Aussie saddles tend to be a bit narrow so I was worried but it ended up fitting him pretty darn well. 

I had also read some reviews that the stirrups put you in a chair seat but my legs ended up sitting right under me very nicely. 

The panels sat nicely right behind his shoulders

We did some walk, trot and canter work and beyond his pissyness at being asked to work in super hot weather, he seemed to move freely and without complaint. The saddle is insanely comfortable and super secure. I probably could go up a seat size for more room but for what I’m using it for I think the extra security will be a plus. 

My thighs rest against the poley but not in an irritating way. I can still post easily…well actually better because it prevents me pinching and posting incorrectly. I even got up in half seat to canter and it was fine. Doubt I could jump anything other than a small log on trail but that isn’t the point of the saddle. 

The only thing I need to do is to get some Aussie style leathers. The English ones put the buckle right under my thigh and it was already irritating with a short 20 minutes ride on fly ground. Any longer and I’d bruise. Most endurance stirrup leathers put the buckle at the iron instead so I’ll look for some of those. 

Don’t let him fool you. It was 20 minutes of easy work. With the long flaps I’m curious to see if adding a full fleece cover would allow me to ride without chaps. At the very least I’m going to switch to my caged endurance stirrups and fleece leather covers so I can ride in my tennis shoes. 

For now the felt pad seems great if a boring grey. I may do some research in the future for something similarly shaped but more fun. The girth is old but functional enough at the moment. 

I really didn’t want a chair seat. I was pleasantly surprised that it felt like riding in a dressage saddle instead. 

The boys have a fishing trip planned for most of the day Saturday which means I will have a completely guilt free day out on the trail and a serviceable saddle to use. I can’t freaking wait!!!! 

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Hamilton

 I get regular video and picture updates regarding Hamilton. Every single one gushes about how sweet and smart he is. He has been on group trail rides following and leading. He has been on solo trail rides. He has been out on long canters in the fields. Through it all this month he has never put a single hoof wrong. No spooks. No rears. No bucks. No bolts. No refusing anything. This was money very well spent and I hope he continues to thrive there for the next moth until I bring him back home. 


Monday, July 12, 2021

Feeling Like A Shit Horse Mom

Ever feel like no matter what you are doing, you are doing it wrong? Sunday morning I felt just about the lowest as a horse person as I have ever felt and it stung badly. It started the same old thoughts churning in my mind of whether or not I should find Eeyore a new, more suitable to him home. Those are familiar thoughts I have had for all 3 years of having Eeyore and well...it sucks. 

Here's the story. 

I quit my weekly lessons with AB back in May. Things weren't clicking right any more between scheduling conflicts on her end and my own feelings that our goals weren't aligning. I decided to take a break from the hard push and take to the trails for a mental break for us both. Two truths came from those first trail rides: 1) I desperately miss my trail time and 2) the BC Wexford had to go for both our backs.

A Tucker endurance saddle. Super comfy for me but too narrow for him and way too heavy. That thing weighed a ton!

The Wexford was placed for sale online but I grew tired of the scams, the useless time suck messages from people who obviously weren't going to purchase it and the ridiculous haggling and quickly sent it off to a consignment store for them to handle the nonsense for me. With that gone though, I have no saddle to ride him in and I value my life too much to ride him bareback. 

Now historically I seem to always get burned out in July and take the month off (except for 2020 when he was rehabbing) which wouldn't be too bad except this break started early May and still isn't over yet. That is a real long time to have Eeyore off. He doesn't do well with extended periods of no work and the longer he sits, the more I know riding him will suck and the longer I put it off. It is a vicious cycle even if I had a saddle to ride him in. 

Synergist endurance saddle. Fit him very well but I can't stand having a horn and it was even heavier than the Tucker. Plus the seat wasn't right for me and this was the most expensive saddle I tried so really couldn't see spending that mush if it wasn't perfect. 

Currently my focus is on finding a trail saddle for him as those are way less expensive than a jump saddle and I can afford it without needing the money from the Wexford. I can trail ride and bring his weight down this summer and fall and then focus on a new jump saddle and return to lessons when I am ready to tackle that again. One saddle I have always been interested in is the Pandora Saddle made in Australia. The issue is that they stopped their demo program in favor of an incentive program for current saddle owners to get a financial kick back for letting potential buyers try theirs. It worked out super well for me as a localish lady was part of the program, but it really is a bizarre way to run a business. What if nobody around you have one? 

Anyway...the saddle is pretty cool and very minimalist. It is also really, really adjustable. The memory foam panels velcro to the underside of the tree and can be nearly infinitely adjusted to fit. The entire premise is that the actual hard tree is so small of a foot print that it can fit almost any horse you need it to expect the very far outliers. I was intrigued, so Sunday I met at my favorite trail head to try it out. 

Worst picture ever as he was standing on an uphill slant, but this was the most still I could get him. The saddle is so tiny in foot print. The rigging can be changed from this center fire set up to a more traditional one but this suited him really well. In fact, at the end of the ride I checked his girth and could fit my fist between it and him and the saddle never budged. 

After maybe 5-7 minutes of fiddling I had the panels probably 90% fitted to Eeyore, enough for the short ride I was about to take. The stirrups took way longer to adjust and I never got the right, a point that is important in a minute. I didn't want to take up too much of her time, so I adjusted things "good enough" and walked off down the hill to the woods. Eeyore had that look in his eye that told me my safest bet would be the grey trail that started with a mile long steep uphill climb.  

I mounted once I walked over the stream and immediately realized my stirrups were dangerously too long, so I hopped off and spent the next 15 minutes muttering to myself and trying to keep Eeyore from running off as he got larger and larger in his excitement to finally be doing something fun. I said screw it and got on to find out now they were jockey length, but damn if I was going to get back off for another 20 minutes. Seriously those Pandora stirrup billets are awful. 

Wish I didn't use a black pad so it was easier to see where the saddle ends. His shoulder came no where close to the saddle or pads and moved freely. I think it made him feel really good and that added to his enthusiasm for the ride. 

Off we went and he used anything as an excuse to go. Eventually we started blasting up the hill to try to burn energy. Of note, at this point even with jockey length stirrups I was still feel secure and comfortable in the saddle and it was obvious that Eeyore felt good in it too. We reached the top and the trail flattened out. Due to my stirrup mishap we were already out 30 minutes and she had asked that I be back before the hour mark and I wanted to respect that, so I turned him around to go home. 

And that folks is when the wheels fell off. 

Eeyore was PISSED. He squealed at me in a way that even the staunchest non anthropomorphic person would be hard pressed not to translate to a raging FUCK YOU MOM. He reared, or well attempted to which in his case his front end hunched but stayed earthbound. He tried to spin back and bolt. The poor guy expected a grand adventure and was getting the shaft here big time. 

 At this point I knew I had to get off and hand walk. He wasn't listening and I wasn't feeling all that secure in the current set up. All I could envision was coming off and him high tailing it with a borrowed saddle never to be seen again. So I slid down and did a walk of shame back to the trailer. 

I felt awful. Not because he was being a douche, but because I was failing him. Yeah I know...horse's don't have schedules and plans but had you seen him you would have known how excited he was to be DOING SOMETHING after so much time off and how pissed he was that the something was a dinky little short ride to nowhere. He misses being in work. He misses adventuring. He misses it all and due to lots of various reasons all he is doing is sitting and waiting for me to make time for him again. 

He still looks like he wants to run away and I look...not happy

It got me wondering if it would be better to find him his own horse crazy, horse centric person who would ride him 5 days a week, take him places, explore, jump, run, play. Someone who would spend more time with him than I do. I don't know. It just seems that no matter what I do with him it feels like it isn't enough to keep him in shape, to keep him mentally relaxed and happy. I do love that stupid orange horse but maybe I'm not the right fit for him. Don't even mention the elephant in the room in the shape of a giant orange baby beast currently residing in KY but due to come home sooner than I'm prepared for. 

Even with not making the pads perfect, his sweat pattern was even and well off important structures on both sides. You can really see how tiny the saddle is. 

I'm hoping to get this saddle issue resolved soon. The Pandora is an intriguing idea but new ones take months to get made and used ones are hard to find (well there is one but it is so so so very purple and I can't do purple especially not for the price they are asking). I did purchase a super cheap ($255) Aussie saddle on ebay that should hopefully arrive this week and fingers crossed fits him to hold me over until I figure life out. I don't know if it will work or not but for that price I can swallow it if it doesn't and put it up for resale.

If I can get back to riding him life will be better again. I really need a saddle!

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

What The Garden Has Taught Me

Mindless repetitive tasks soothe a busy mind.

The sunflowers have brought goldfinches to the yard. The beautiful little yellow birds brighten my day


It is possible to be both too patient and too impatient.

In my effort to try to make sure things are ripe before I pick them, I tend to wait too long. Some plants I am better at judging when to harvest and allow to finish ripening on my counter, others like the above okra, I wait too long. 


If you think you have watered enough, double it and you may be almost there. 



Zucchini is the dandelion of the vegetable world. 

So. Much. Zucchini



Growing vegetables will teach you how to cook. 

Sautéed the okra with garlic, onion and fresh picked tomatoes. 

Growing vegetables will also lead you to finding long lost family recipes. 

Not my Grandmother's zucchini bread recipe. After speaking two several family members we finally tracked down her long lost recipe book and now I have it. 


Zucchini brownies are just as bad for you as regular ones, only not as tasty. 

Moist and delicious, but not as delicious as zucchini free brownies

Rainy days are the best days of summer. 

Baked a fresh blackberry pie with berries picked from out behind the barn. A great way to spend a rainy afternoon

Always mark your plantings even if you don’t think they will grow. 

I threw seeds out and didn't mark them because I had no hope they would grow. Now I have a mystery pepper that I have been told is a chili pepper (pick while green) and a cayenne pepper (wait until turns red). I'm doing it both ways and will see how it tastes.

Either deal with chemicals or deal with bugs. I prefer the bugs.

These have all been mostly bug free. The cabbages were covered in moth larvae and the okra in ants. I'd rather pick them off than coat things in chemicals so organic farming it is.