One Picture...

Well, here we are, riding in the Aussie saddle. Notice how relaxed Indy looks, head low, playing with his bit. He was not looking this way in this previous saddles, believe me.

As always with a new saddle, I've been fiddling with the stirrup length. It always seems to take me forever to decide just where I want the stirrups on each individual saddle. Most of my height must be leg, because I ride with a longer stirrup than many people who are taller than I am. Still, I've shortened them one hole since this picture was taken, so we shall see.

I haven't ridden in several days because it's been raining and chilly, with a stiff East wind. Indy loves it, but I do not. It's supposed to be nice tomorrow, so hopefully I'll get a chance to test the stirrup length. At least the stirrups are very easy to adjust.

More details - and pictures - later. Posted by Picasa


At Least I Can Type Now

Well, I can sort of type now – thank god for spell checkers! I have been having the strangest problem with the middle finger of my right hand. At first I thought I had gotten a foreign object down the side of the nail. It got sore and kept getting worse instead of better. I assumed it was going to abscess shortly, I could open it, end of problem. But, it hasn’t worked out that way…

Now I think it must be some sort of injury to the nail itself, because it seems to be growing off. In fact, it’s now right at the tip of my finger – which makes typing difficult again.

However – I have been riding the saddle! Yes! I’ve ridden in it three times, and the last time was for a good half hour. It’s extremely comfortable for me and very secure. It’s kinda heavy, at least compared to the synthetic ones, but that’s the price I paid for it having an old fashioned Aussie adjustable tree. Anyway, it weighs about the same as DJ’s trail saddle, and DJ was three inches taller than Indy. The problem isn’t the saddle weight – it’s my being out of shape!

It looks like this saddle is going to be a great success – finally! The most impressing thing is how Indy has reacted. He seems more relaxed and willing with every ride. I don’t get that feeling that he’s absolutely desperate to get this deal over with and get that thing off his back. He still doesn’t realize that he can urinate with me on his back – the saddle, yes. He’s done that, but only after I dismounted. I’ve heard about this problem with geldings before, but sooner or later he’ll have to go with me up, and with him it’ll only take once. End of problem. :o)

I’ve got him back on the full cheek bit, since he seems to like that one a bit more than the D ring. Actually, he seems to love both of the Happy Mouth bits. He’ll grab onto it before I’m even ready to slip the crown piece over his ears. Then he happily sucks and mouths and plays with the roller. Couldn’t do that in the show ring of course. Mouth must be closed and quiet – even if you have to crank it shut with a dropped or flash noseband. But, since we’re not going near any show rings, as long as he responds to my cues, he can play with his bit to his heart’s content.

All I care about is that he’s finally relaxed and content in his mouth and his body while being ridden. Now we can start having some real fun!


Not Yet....

No, I haven’t had a chance to ride the saddle yet. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised – I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a new piece of tack in my life that didn’t cause the weather to go rotten and stay that way for weeks. I think it’s some kinda unwritten law or something. It’s not that it’s wasted time or anything. Since Indy and Ami have just started shedding for real, I have more grooming than my arms can hold up to – especially since it’s been wet and they both are muddy on top of being shaggy. Maybe I don’t want to put my brand new sheepskin pad on Mr. Grunge’s back just yet anyway!

The delay has also given me a chance to get a good application of Leather Therapy Conditioner on the smooth leather parts of the saddle before they get dirty and have to be cleaned first. Mold on tack is a serious problem around here, and the Leather Therapy is the only thing I’ve found that does a lick of good preventing it. Even it works much better if you can get in onto the leather before any mold has a chance to dig in with its nasty little spores. YUK!

Last but far from least, I’m also working on the full Bates rig that I purchased – not only to get it conditioned as well, but also figuring out how the heck the thing works. Actually, it’s quite easy once you “get it.” The full instructions that came with it didn’t hurt either…

I knew I’d be glad I paid extra to upgrade the girthing system to this. It doesn’t just convert the usual English style girthing that Aussies use to Western style – it adds what they call a Bates buckle, which is a quick release between the near side tie strap and the cincha. You get the leverage of the long Western tie strap, but without having to thread it around three times every time you saddle up. You just have to move the strap a little bit to release and only a bit more to refasten the buckle. Not only much easier on my repetitive movement injured hands, but a lot less pulling and tugging on Indy too. Since snugging up the girth is his most unfavorite part of the whole process, he’ll probably benefit even more from this thing than I will – which was the main reason I bought it of course.

Maybe all this seems like going to extremes to some, but how could I possibly be comfortable if my horse is not? After all, riding is my idea, certainly not his. I figure keeping him comfortable is the least I can do.


Is It Possible? Could It Actually Be True?

As promised, my saddle arrived on Saturday afternoon at about 4:00 PM. Mike and I were already at the barn, but we were listening hard for that Fed Ex truck. Since we were already involved with our barn stuff/horse grooming, I didn’t open the box until we were back inside.

My first impression was, “WOW!” The pictures on the web site and in the catalog certainly don’t do it justice. It’s beautiful – gold stitching on the black Nubuck leather, and horseshoe dee rings. I thought you had to pay extra for those. There is gold stitching on the fenders and stirrups as well. As for the all important tree – well, it certainly looked wider than the Wintec or Abetta, and not only that, the angle of the bars was obviously much flatter than either of the others. Hope!

Yesterday was the first trial – just the saddle, with a sheet over Indy’s back to keep it pristine – just in case. I was a little concerned about Indy’s reaction since he was not standing well for the Abetta any more. The sheet of course was a big ho-hum for him, but he got a bit tense when I heaved the saddle onto his back. Mike steadied his head, but he calmed right down and went back to munching his hay while we were evaluating the fit. That told me volumes right there. Indeed, the fit did seem excellent, with the saddle nestling down around his back instead of perching on top of it. I was thrilled with my impression and even more so with Indy’s. He will have the final say after all.

Today, we tried it with the sheepskin pad that I ordered with it – again with the sheet underneath. The fit still seemed just right, and Indy was totally Mr. Cool – after giving that pad a thorough sniffing, that is. He decided the whole thing was OK though, and went back to munching.

Now, I have to figure out how to use the Bates rig so I can try girthing it up. As for riding, the weather has been awful, first day of Spring or no. It’s cold and windy. Still, spring is here, and surely we’ll have a halfway decent day before too long. Meanwhile, I can be applying the Leather Therapy Conditioner to the smooth leather parts to fight the war against mold.

I think Indy is going to be a lot happier with this saddle – and if he’s happy, I’m happy.


News From Down Under

Late Tuesday afternoon I received a phone call from Down Under – no, not Australia. It was an extremely nice fellow named Lance from Down Under Saddle Supply, and he was calling about my saddle order. He was concerned that the saddle I’d ordered – the Wizzard Poley - would not be suitable for a horse with Indy’s wither tracing, which he had in his hand.

Actually, I had considered that myself, since the info says that saddles with traditional stuffed panels were more suitable for narrower, high withered types, and that Aussies had gone to the fleece lined panels – like an American Western saddle – because of the influence of the wider American horses. I had considered listing a second choice, but then forgot to do so.

So, here was Lance, calling to advise me instead of just sending me what I’d ordered. Is that service or what? We agreed that the Snowy River Legend would be a much better choice for a Morgan. In fact, Lance told me that the Dallas Mounted Patrol used only Morgans, and Down Under supplied their saddles – and had great success fitting their Morgans with this very model. Then he went on, going over the other things in my order as if he had all the time in the world. He said he would have my saddle out within 24 hours, but if I had any other questions, not to hesitate to call him.

The next evening I got a pre shipment notice from Fed Ex stating that they now had it and it was on its way. Guess Lance made good on his 24 hour promise.

I’m impressed. If the saddle itself is anywhere near as good as the service, Indy and I will be in business!


New Digs

Well, Indy, here we are in our new digs – looks great, and I will try my best to keep things up to date.

Not that much has happened since my last post at the old URL. Except of course the fact that the Abetta saddle with its Full Quarter Horse Bars didn’t fit Indy either. In fact, it rolled around on his back worse than the Wintec. It even seemed uncomfortable to him. Oh well, so much for that idea…

I’ve spent a lot of time since then trying to figure out what to do. I had a saddle custom built for DJ – the first one I tried that didn’t fit Indy – but that was in 1985. The price of custom made saddles has since far outstripped my budget – and how! I spent a great deal of time searching, but there is just no way.

Then I considered the flex tree type saddles, and seriously considered the Circle Y Flex Lite Western models. I was hoping that the flex in the tree would enable the saddle to fit Indy’s wide round back better. But, there was no guarantee that it would, and I have also read that some horses dislike the feel of the flex trees even when they do fit.

After still more research, I ended up considering a type of saddle I’d always not seriously considered – the Australian Stock Saddle. I had stayed away from them before because of the more forward position of the feet in the Aussie riding style. After all, I was a “dressage person,” and I didn’t want a saddle the threw me out of head-hip-heel position, even for pleasure hacking.

However, the Aussie saddles had a large factor in their favor – the claim that the traditional Aussie steel and wood tree could be adjusted to fit “any” horse. I couldn’t afford a real made-in-Australia-by-a-saddle master, but in the last 20 years or so, some very creditable copys have been produced that look great, last well and are affordable. Also, they are difficult saddles to fall off of – a biggie for me personally since I seem to be having a huge crisis in confidence for no good reason at all. Granted, Indy is still green, but he’s never done a single thing to make me think I’m taking my life in my hands every time I get on his back. Just the opposite in fact, regardless of the screaming of my goofball nervous system. Anyway, to make a long story short, I decided to go for the Wizzard Poley from Down Under Saddle Supply, http://www.downunderweb.com/downunder.htm .

I snail mailed the order last week – snail mail because Indy’s withers tracing had to be on legal paper it was so wide, and I don’t have a way to scan/fax legal size documents. So, we shall see…
"From my earliest memories, I have loved horses with a longing beyond words." ~ Robert Vavra