Sunday, August 16, 2015

Cute Pony is Cute & New Saddle

IMG_2340[1]Hmm…  Whas dis? Licorich? -

This thing happened since my last update: we found a like-new second hand dressage saddle that works for us both. It’s the Wintec 500 dressage saddle with CAIR panels, and an adjustable gullet system that I wanted, around about a year old. And it was in stellar condition, AND it came fully mounted!

I don’t know what pony fairy was floating around to dub me with such luck, but we basically got our new saddle three weeks after that post – mid July, and we have been riding in it ever since.

IMG_4277[1]- Why iz YOU here so earlies? -

It’s certainly been different riding in a dressage saddle. In all my years riding, I have never actually had a dressage saddle, or ridden in one for any length of time.

As you can imagine, this makes all the dressage training I’ve been doing challenging in its own way, and riding in the new saddle has certainly opened my eyes to some new steps to take.

Firstly, Copper lurves it. As much as a horse CAN love a saddle! The straight cut of the saddle flaps vs. the forward cut of the All Purpose has made a huge difference in the relaxation and forwardness of his shoulder movement.

I had only walked about ten strides in the saddle when we were first checking the fit before I announced to the saddle fitter that he loved it! His shoulders where moving so freely, and there was a lightness to his neck/whithers/shoulders that wasn’t there before.

It was like he was gliding over the ground!

IMG_2349[1]- No… I donwanna pose for a “foto” – wut evah dat iz. Put dat silly clickin fing away! *pout* -

As far as it affects me – it’s all about finding a new centre. Because the dressage saddle actually facilitates correct rider balance and shoulder/hip/heel alignment, for the first time I’m really able to focus on balance, using my lower leg effectively and working much more efficiently with my seat.

It’s so exciting! It’s so painful!! My abs, calves and ankles start burning after about fifteen minutes and by the end of our half hour session, my muscles are so fatigued I am ready to be out of the saddle!  Ha!

Dressage riding = better than sit ups.

IMG_4286[1] - Hai up der! -

I have to work a million times harder to keep myself in a correct position, but in between my bobbling about on his back, we are having some brilliant-I-can-taste-the-future-moments.

In bullet points not to bore you:

  • I got the purest trot I’ve ever had from him at least twice now; a clean, golden, perfect, 1-2 beat with soft, through back. It was magical, and I wanted it to last forever!
  • A walk that was a smooth and as rideable as butter. I can’t even – how do you describe that?
  • Even his weakest gait – the canter, is much more forward, but at the same time, less zoom-y and unbalanced. Very good.
  • When I fold at the base of my ribs, suck in my abs and switch them on, Copper relaxes his back and will connect stronger from back to front.
  • When I turn my toes in, and allow my lower calf to hug his sides, I’m finding that my lower leg is stabilizing (wonders of wonders!).
  • My position at the trot: I’m focusing really hard keeping my knees and lower legs ON his sides, and not letting them swing forwards and off. To help with this, I keep my abs on, the base of my rib cage soft and really try to keep my back soft, but straight. 
  • Because of my ‘duck butt’, what feels like a rounded back, is actually a straight, soft back and Copper really responds to that softness in my back.

All this means that I feel like we are on a new track to improving. I’m able to use my seat more effectively in a rising trot now that my lower leg is stabilized, and because of that, his gait is becoming cleaner and more controlled.

This is very exciting for me and definitely a huge break through! I can’t wait to see how we get on from here. :D

See ya,


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