Time was a premium this week, but I did get one really good ride in and possibly solved a couple of more.
First, the problem solving. I have felt that Beaux’s “resistance” with turning/steering had to have more to it than just head gear for a while now, and decided to do some massage and body work pre-ride to see how Beaux really felt. I am really glad I did! I found knots on Beaux’s jaw, neck, and back. I did some massage and stretches and was able to work out the knots in the jaw and back but the knots on his neck are really deep and will require more work. I feel that the neck and jaw are the source of the difficulties with turning, and the soreness on his back is probably from the bareback pad. I am semi-retiring the bareback pad for now, and I am test riding a couple of different saddles. I’ll keep the bareback pad around for our trips to the lake/swimming and that is about it. Beaux is just too sensitive, which is why I have stepped up saddle shopping and moved on to test riding.
I’m borrowing a Wintec dressage saddle, which I really do like and most important, Beaux seems to like it. Beaux and I both really like what Wintec brings to the table, and now the biggest question is which Wintec to buy? Beaux is becoming more relaxed in the arena, and I’ve been taking him over poles and getting him used to being on the rail better. There could be a show horse in there after all! I’m leaning towards the AP style of Wintec so I can go on trails, dressage, and *gasp* jumping. I also get to test ride a synthetic Western saddle this weekend. While I am not seeing Western events in our future, I do like having a Western saddle in our tack room for trails and for longer rides, the comfort and security that a Western saddle has. It looks like I’m going to go from zero saddles to 2 if all works out well. Which brings us to our really good ride.
I broke down and put the low port Kimberwick back on. I am not giving up on bitless, I love the idea of being able to trail ride bitless, but I’m putting bitless on the backburner until Beaux is back to being a confident riding horse. I’m looking at a Baucher bit, mostly for the show ring legal aspect down the road. So for now, it is the kimberwick low port.
Our first ride post massage was a really good one. Beaux was more relaxed, he had another horse in the arena with us, and this horse was able to trot and canter by us with minimal fuss from Beaux. I had a good connection with leg and seat cues, and “power steering” will happen with more rides. This ride had a couple of “aha!” moments, with Beaux responding with leg cues, picking up a nice trot, and while still heavyon the bit (the drooling was not awful but still a very wet mouth), Beaux was solid and confident and that is the most I could hope for.
My work schedule is still chaotic this week, but will get at least 2 or 3 rides in with some careful time management plus, after this week, my schedule will be more flexible and I can focus on my goal of riding 2-3 times a week. Our barn is also having a fun show to help raise money for a boarder who has a huge vet bill. I may throw Beaux in a W/T class which brings up my next goal: terrorizing the local show scene. I would love to put Beaux in a couple of W/T classes and because I’m a glutton for punishment, equitation classes. The show grounds are a 5 minute hack from our boarding barn, and exposing Beaux to the local show scene is a nice prep for when we get the CTR (Competitive Trail Rides) and Limited Distance rides this winter. This is one reason why I love the Standardbred breed so much, versatility! Show ring one weekend, 25-35 mile trail rides the next weekend, and doing it all in style.
So, to sum up our week in review, always check for physical reasons before escalating harshness in equipment, constantly reevaluate your goals, and always keep the horse first. I am continuing his massage pre and post ride, getting a saddle that works for us, and continue to work on steering and suppling. I’m also looking at the class schedules and seeing where we would do well in. So great and fun goals coming up and getting some quality saddle time in is always a great thing.