Thursday, September 11, 2014

August recap, September goals, various updates

August goals were:
- 15+ mile rides once or twice during the month - Fail.  But: two back-to-back 10mile days, which for our purposes is pretty close to one 15+ mile ride.  Oh wait - actually, success!  We rode with Quicksilver for 4-5 miles, then 5ish miles there and home as well, so that's close to 15.  That just didn't get completely logged.
- Get rid of hives - Check.  Thankfully, she's shedding, and as her new coat comes in we're losing the visible spots.
- Continue speed work approx. once weekly - Check!  Five rides at 5mph or over.
- Continue heat work (as much for me as for her) - Check?  I think we did, anyway, but the past two months are all blurring together.  If I elyte, I do better.  I'm learning.
- Rebuild trail confidence; eliminate backing up as an evasion again.  - This appears to be resolved, but I'm not convinced it won't flare back up again before resolving for a while.
Total mileage: approx 90.  A bit lower than usual, but well within normal.
Bonus for a lesson in August, with a tiny bit of jumping!

September goals:
- Continue to add canter as comfort allows, making sure it's a polite canter and not a running-away canter.
- Rasp hooves weekly to make sure boots fit for our early October ride.
- Acquire clippers.  Clip 'Fetti's neck shortly prior to October ride.
- School 'standing still while mounting' more.  One step is vaguely tolerable at this point.  More than that, absolutely not.

On saddles:
My Eurolight spent two weeks away getting fixed.
I was riding in the Thorowgood with some bareback work for good measure.  Sweat patterns are still good.  I am so, so lucky to have a second saddle that works for the silly horse and I.  I'm not as secure, and having regular English stirrups and irons definitely impacts my leg comfort, but we did a moderately brisk 18-mile ride last week with no real problems. 

On hydration:
Human: I bought a new Nathan Intensity pack and I love it.  It's 2L rather than my previous 3L pack, but it barely bounces at all, even when cantering. I did not love the bite valve that came with, so I 'borrowed' the Camelbak's bite valve and tube from my boyfriend's Camelbak (oops, bad girlfriend!) for the time being, aka until I make it to REI for a new one for me.  Then again, maybe I should give him the new one...
It also has a nifty little pocket in front I can store elyte tabs in, increasing the likelihood I'll remember to take them regularly.

Horse: On a whim, I bought a Himalayan salt block to hang in her stall maybe two months ago?  Confetti has now gone through the entire thing.  She's drinking substantially more - this was the mare that used to go through maaaaybe a third of the 'standard' water bucket, and now goes through half of a double-sized one in a day.  No complaints here; I'm happy she's drinking.

Hex key acquired and worked nicely!  We're now in the MW gullet, I believe, and I'm feeling more balanced that way.  I don't have a wool pad to go underneath and frankly would be concerned about messing with the fit by adding mine, so standard English pads it is.  That does mean that using the heart monitor is not a good option: the electrodes have trouble sticking to the English pads.
Despite it being a dressage saddle, I had another gal at the barn help me out and stick the knee blocks in a more AP-type position, supporting my calves rather than my thighs.  I can't necessarily recommend it to anyone, but it is working much better for me now.
Tiny horse problems: my 22" Woolback girth reaches nearly to the bottom of the saddle on both sides.  Yikes!

If you embiggen, knee block placement is almost visible, sort of.

Eurolight repairs and discoveries:
I had new billets put on my saddle along with replacing the crupper ring.  Either the old billets stretched, or the new ones are shorter.  They're easily four inches shorter.  This puts my 22" Woolback girth on holes 2 & 3.  I sense a new girth in our future.
Also, I snugged up the breastcollar some when I put the saddle on.  I'm not sure how it looked good before, but it seems to look fine now.
My trainer had mentioned that the Eurolight doesn't allow you to really get your knees against the horse.  I hadn't understood that then.  I do now.  I suspect I could resolve that somewhat by using a thinner pad, and may experiment with putting the dressage pads back on to see if the sweat patterns are still good (or not).

Saddle looks awfully plain without a pink saddlebag, but I just wanted to RIDE.  Also, the stirrup was on backwards.  That did get fixed.

Our canter work feels vastly improved.  There are still times I'm up in a bastard two-point position.  However, there are now a near-equal amount of times when I'm just calmly sitting and staying with her motion.  I'm not entirely sure what's changed.  The real test will be trying it in the Eurolight to see if I can keep that feeling.
Verdict:  no, not really.  My lower leg stability is not there in the Eurolight (probably related to my knees flaring out, see previous point!), and it is in the dressage saddle with knee blocks.  I can hold the canter for a few strides and have it feel correct, but not the lengths we were getting in the Thorowgood.  At this point, I think I will probably continue to work on those handful of strides, but make a point to pull out the Thorowgood weekly-or-so for canter sets.

Two-point and running martingales, or, I am very used to these Haflingers:
I've pondered for a while how folks would actually end up with horses hitting them in the head.  I mean, I have to be falling forwards to hit her neck!  It finally clicked: it seems like normal horses have a higher headset, Arabs/Saddlebred types in particular.  Fetti and the other Haffies default to a flatter headset.  Alternatively, I'm just not seeing the high-headed Haffie photos and low-headed other horse photos?
In any case, two-point is awfully hard in non-jumping length stirrups and with the mane three inches lower than I want to grab.

We're four weeks out from our next ride.  Yikes!  Expect some ride-prep (or lack thereof) posts soon.

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