Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dentist day, and some anniversaries

The dentist was scheduled to come and see the ponies tomorrow, but ended up with some spare time today so came past at 5pm. Indy was OK to start, then began objecting to the gag, so we took it off and put her in the yard. However, she continued to out-smart us while trying to get away of the rasping noise (she is too tall for the dentist to stay with when she puts her head up, and even lifted the dentist off her feet a few times!) so we gave her a bit of space while we did Scarlett's teeth, then came back to finish Indy's teeth after she'd settled down.

It is nice to have the same professionals deal with your horses on an on-going basis. She remembers a lot about Scarlett's behaviour immediately after she came home from lease in 2009, and so on. We had a good chat about her condition (mental and physical) and also her teeth, which are always going to need a little more than "just maintenance" but are in quite a good place now. I've been quite careful to ensure she gets regular checks over the past few years as she has a crooked tooth on one side; she usually has work done every 9 months, and is checked at least every 6. The dentist said the crooked tooth isn't causing any issues and also noted Scarlett isn't packing food away in the "pocket" between that tooth and the cheek, like she has in the past: a good sign.

Indy has had dentistry done every 6 months since I got her, which was two years ago yesterday! The dentist was really pleased with her teeth today and said she should only need her teeth done in a year. I'll get her checked when Scarlett's teeth are next due, just in case.

Another anniversary falls today - Shelley dying. So, the wee black pony has been here almost twelve years... time flies.

On that note, make the most of the time you've got with your horses and your people. They are precious, and I can say the ones I've had have been very good teachers.

No important news

I'm so ridiculously frustrated (obsessively so) with this saddle fit thing, given I don't have enough brave pants to want to get on Indy bareback. I am not having any fun telling people over and over that she truly, really, honestly needs an extra wide saddle. No, not a W, not a MW... an XW. Honestly.

I am nearly at the stage where I will call someone like Abbi to come and produce a set of tracings for me, just in case I'm such a numpty that I honestly can't do it myself, and I could well be flattening out the flexi between the horse's back and the paper, aye... *sigh*
On that note, here's yesterday's attempt.

In happier, less ranty news (LOL!) , Annika came over to ride today so Scarlett and Mack had an outing. Of course, five minutes after they arrived Scarlett decided to show Mack that she was fully in season so we had to cope with a tarty pony trying to pee all over Mack the whole time we were out... charming!
In ranting about my saddle with Annika, I realised what I should do is take a back mould (using casting material for broken limbs, or something!) and see if that gets people to understand how broad Indy is. Half the problem is she hasn't really had an ill-fitting saddle on, and we do HEAPS of groundwork, so she has an excellent topline and very good muscling, despite being relatively unfit. I am starting to wonder how much muscle damage and incorrect training happens with a large proportion of horses...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Saddle fitting woes

So. Indy's wide... Very wide. Her RP is too narrow. A Wide Albion dressage saddle is too narrow. Faith's superdooperextrawide saddle is too wide (can't win!).
I haven't managed to find a Wide or XW jump or GP saddle to try... there's a possibility that one of those will fit differently from the dressage saddle. Still, I don't forsee her getting any narrower, that's for sure...

One NZ stockist of Albions has not bothered to reply. The other has taken their sweet time, suggested she's not really an XW, told me the only W they have coming in is pre-sold and asked if I'd like to try her in a MW..........FFS! Did he READ my original email that stated the horse outgrew her MW Albion jump saddle a year ago? MORE THAN TWELVE MONTHS AGO. I have emailed back to ask what my chances are to get a trial W or XW saddle, the shipping timeframe and whether they would bring in both widths on the condition that I purchase one saddle from them. Who knows if I'll get any cooperation out of them though...

We've come to visit Michael & Breann in Khancoban, so flew into Melbourne. Mum's friend Neville kindly drove us out to Werribee Park to stop in at Mal Byrne's saddlery/workshop.  Mal gets saddles made to his design over in England. Due to the exchange rate they're retailing for $3000 AUD... Still a fair whack in NZD, but I would get to choose everything about the saddle, and that price would include shipping to NZ (he usually offers the first fitting and re-flocking free as part of the purchase price, which would be a little difficult in my case ;)
I'm a little torn. If I had received better service in NZ I'd be gunning for an Albion, but I am not sure I want to support a company who doesn't reply to emails promptly and then can't read for comprehension. My other option is hoping Saddle4You can find something suitable, second hand...

Friday, January 6, 2012


Apparently people are keen to see actual photos of my actual horse(s)... Fancy that!

Today I took some back and wither tracings to assist with Indy's saddle hunt. The wither tracing is nearly two inches wider than last year (approx an inch on each side, at the bottom of the flexi curve)... no wonder she needs a new saddle!

With no further ado, here are some photos of her back, to give an idea of what sort of barrel I'm attempting to fit a saddle to...

Here are the tracings.

Just for 'fun', here she is wearing the Wide Albion Legend saddle I borrowed which was too narrow. It has an 18 inch seat.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Long time, no see!

It has been a very long time since I've updated the blog - apologies!

Jacqui has been riding Scarlett once a week for the past 4 or so months which has helped me ride Indy more often and to get her out and about rather than staying in the paddock to potter around. It also means we do CR groundwork before/during tacking up, and I have a lot to remember to help Jacqui ride Scarlett effectively, which helps me remember what I should be doing with Indy.

In November & December I did a LOT of CR: there was the 5-day CRT 101 course to start; a few days later, the first four-day clinic (I took Indy) and the second four-day clinic (Scarlett).

Peggy comes up with new stuff for us every year, and this time was no different. There was a lot of focus on a very quick (one step each way) 'zig zag' in and out, counter caterpillar ('sending' their head away) and lots of head/neck/poll work, specifically the tiny little stuff that helps mobilise the atlas. It was fabulous to spend so much time with Peggy and Susan, who came to NZ for the first time this year, as she's a big part of the CRT courses.
I have discussed the possibility of going over to spend some time as a working student with Peggy. I hope to do that in the (NZ) winter. I would like to spend a month or two with Peggy; I'd love to tie in CRT 102, or some of the external courses required to move past the 103 level. I may also spend a little time with mum's relatives in Seattle. Of course, I'll make time to visit my friends.

With groundwork, I am really concentrating on head down, neck released. I have been doing plenty of shoulder delineations, heart girth presses (right along the rib cage), counter caterpillar. I need to do a bit one one-foot/one-step work: Peggy showed us how to first cross the front legs, then the hind, to really start engaging the HQs properly and get the horse telescoping. Indy is ready for a lot more in/out/FORWARDS work to encourage her "push" from behind.
The groundwork focus has changed her head and neck already. She is a lot softer through transitions. We lost the "out" for a while (during the clinic - eeek!) but it's coming back. This tells me that as I work through stuck-ness, I need to keep re-visiting all the previous steps to ensure they are established and correct.
Both horses need a lot more one- and two-line work. I need to canter them more, too... Sometimes, I wish I didn't have to work, or there were twice as many hours in the day!

Indy has outgrown her RP saddle - bummer. I didn't realise that some of her lack-of-forwards issues were coming from the saddle being too tight on her shoulders (I completely dismissed it, to be honest - bad me!). So, it's for sale, as is a lot of other stuff (I've been doing well with selling, lately, and the Legend GP has finally found a new home, though the Style is still here).

I'm looking for an Albion or Balance saddle to replace the RP. Trisha's Balance seemed to fit Indy fairly well, but Balance were away over the New Year break and their email inbox is full so I haven't been able to make contact. I've also emailed the Auckland tack shop who import  Albions to see if they can get me something to trial, and Sue at Saddle4You is going to see what she can find for me second hand ... If I can get a new Albion for 3k, or a second hand one for less than 2.5k, I will be happy. Importing a Balance saddle will be over 3k, but if they can do a distance consult it might work out (their saddles are wider than Albions).
Another option is looking at saddleries while we're in Australia (12-21 Jan). Either way, I need something that is wider than Wide, so second hand options are few and far between.

That's it for now... Photos from clinics will be up soon (but I really must sort out the thousands I got from Peggy, in order to copy them off for the people who wanted them...).