Monday, February 16, 2009

The proof is in the photo...

Of my big butt in the saddle. Sammy did SO much better in the DIY saddle curiosity of the neighbors bearing press. She didn't put a hoof out of line. No bucking, no rearing, no pawing, and none of the other stuff I expected her to throw at me today.

We made one lap around the large pasture and came back up to the barn for our photo op and to work on our steering. She was amazing! She stood for me to mount, and waited until I ask for her to walk off. She walked away from the barn and her comfort zone without any drama at all. We used some of the downed limbs as obstacles and she obediently stepped over them like she had done it everyday with a rider on her back.

We returned to the barn area for out photo op and to work on steering around the cones and she is almost ready to start working with a bit.

So with out further ado here is the photos of Sammy doing her best at being an angel.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I fixed it!

Ok, I had this AP English saddle in the back of the tack room. This was one of those "lets see if she will actually ride in it" saddles. You know the ones you buy for your kids when the suddenly want to change disiplines. LOL I wouldn't sell it, mostly because I would feel guilty selling someone a raging POS that is this saddle. There really isn't anything wrong with the saddle other than it is the worst leather I have ever laid eyes on. Structurally it is safe, it just looks horrible.

It was a medium tree and like all the other saddles in the barn swallowed little Sammy. Some time ago I, being the geek that I am, watched a show on the discovery channel that showed how an english saddle is put together, and how they adjust the gullet plate for a specific width. Well, I split the channel between the padding and luckily this saddle was a wooden tree with steel plates. My friend has a hydraulic press, so since the saddle was collecting dust and I wouldn't be horribly upset if it didn't work out, we put the saddle in the press and attempted to bend the plate.

When we took the saddle out I wasn't sure it was narrow enough. But when I put it on her back it couldn't have been better. I can now use a regular pad and it will clear her withers and sit in the proper postion.

Sorry for the horrible picture but I took them with my cell phone. This is the saddle after the press teatment. I am sure you can see why I was having such a trouble fitting her as narrow as it is now.

Here is the plate that I bent. I cut away the "leather" covering to expose the tree of the saddle.
So the next warmish day we have I am so totally gonna ride her in a saddle that acutally fits. Yeah Me!!!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Well We’ve Done It Now!

Sammy has not one but two rides under her girth! We had one misfire, and two actual rides. The misfire happened when I saddled her up and then realized the round pen was way too muddy for her to work in. Yeah I should have looked first but didn’t think it would be a problem.

Ride number one came three days later after the high winds had dried out the ground somewhat. She was completely clueless, but still a good girl to a time. My daughter aided me on the ground after it was clear that smooching and gentle bumps weren’t getting forward motion. Once we got forward, we worked on balancing a rider. Sammy is much like her mother in the fact that is built on a fine frame. She has delicate features and a thin chest. Most people would think this is from her lack of nutrients but really it is not. Her mother is a very fine boned horse and only looks like a normal horse now because she is really fat. LOL So, learning to balance weight on her back was frustrating for her at first. Apparently so much so that she tried rearing to show her distaste and we fell over. Don’t worry no harm done. It was a gentle sit down and step off. She however was shocked. I repositioned the (not quite so well fitting) saddle and tried again. This time the mount was much easier and her balance had greatly improved. A few more laps around the round pen and we quit for the day.

I was so proud of her! You just can’t imagine what it felt like. This is the horse that I thought would never be mine, and when she came home I was afraid I would never be able to ride. This is my baby who I froze my butt off for three cold nights in November to save. I was ready to scream from the roof-tops that WE DID IT!!!

Now here is the problem. She is very narrow, and the built up pad I have is not built up in the right places. The Aussie saddle that I used for her mother is still too wide for her. It is much closer than my western saddle but still needs a lot of padding. I created a shim for it for ride two and it was much better but still not great.

Ride two happened with much less fanfare sort of. She was much easier to tighten and much less anxious, she stood well for the mount (from a step of course) and walked off nicely at the smooch. But she had a surprise up her hoof for me. She decided she was going to try bucking. Every time I would apply leg to reinforce a turn she would buck. I corrected her strongly and moved on. Twice she tried it, twice she failed to remove me from her back. She quitted down and was following leads nicely so I decided that I would take her out of the round pen and ride her somewhere much more solid.

We received a lot of rain between the first and second ride so the round pen was very soft. I didn’t want to keep making it worse so I dismounted and went out to the drive way. We walked through the barn and remounted out front. She really was concerned and wasn’t sure about walking away from her comfort zone but with encouragement and soft words she took her unsure steps.

My drive to the barn is easily 3/10th of a mile long so we have a good straight stretch to walk on solid ground. She made it past the trucks, the old jog cart, and limbs strewn on the yard. Past the old red well house, more cars parked at my husband’s office, and didn’t even jump when Justin came walking around the corner of the building. She even was curious enough to walk up to him. We stood for just a moment to talk and then proceeded on up the drive. Turned around and walked (at the same speed) back to the barn. We came to a stop in front of the barn door and I got off.


Now I just have to find a saddle that is narrow enough to fit her properly. At this point I don’t care if it is western or English; I just want it to fit her without a lot of extra padding that makes it feel like your hovering over her back.

If anyone has a really narrow saddle you would like to sell please contact me. I am 5’9” so I would need at least a 17 ½ English. I don’t care if it looks like the hind wheels of bad luck as long as it fits and is safe. Since I do leather work and repair I can fix some things as long as the tree is in good shape.

I considered one of those soft saddles but I think I weigh too much and it might hurt her back. So I would feel better with some kind of saddle. Any suggestions? Send them my way. Thanks in advance and stay tuned for more.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Set Backs and Frustrations...

With the go ahead from the vet Sammy's training was to begin last Monday, but apparently I neglected to run my plans past Mother Nature. Monday morning reveled 1 1/2 to 2 inches of ice soon to be followed by 2 inches of snow. Our area had been hit by the worst winter storm in YEARS. We lost power at the farm and our house somewhere around 10 am on Monday morning and power was finally restored Sunday morning about the same time.

Of course with so much ice my farm, trees, and fences look like they have been through a war zone.

Everyone in Western Kentucky has suffered these kinds of losses including having the electrical service ripped right out of their houses. So I really have nothing to whine about except these oak trees were estimated to be around 100 years old. They were the one feature of our farm at the time of purchase that I didn't want to change.

Ok enough whining...

Sammy as you know has had some issues with stalls, and being confined. Those of you who have followed from the beginning know she has gotten much much better. However, we have not had an instance to keep her in a stall for more than just a night. She was in her stall from Sunday night at feeding time until Thursday morning. The ice was so bad that I was afraid one of them would hurt themselves slipping around so we kept them up.

She was amazing. No nervous pawing, chewing, kicking, nothing that would indicate any of the trials that she had experienced in the past. I was really worried how she would handle being confined for so long. But she never fails to amaze me.

I had wondered if keeping her at my friends barn was going to be hard on her but now I see that she has really changed. She is so much more relaxed and calm. It is so amazing to watch her bloom and change. I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that she would be just fine, but I was afraid to really believe.

The bottom line is Sammy is amazing, she is wonderful, smart and ready to start her new life.

Stay tuned, we are going to try again for this week. Wish me luck.