PostHeaderIcon Let’s Make the Arena Fun for Cisco and I!

I set up the arena for fun! I had two upright barrels standing close together and two large plastic jump boxes standing together. I had the arena alone today so we played at liberty on the ground.

Firstly, I needed to do my exercising so Cisco and I walked at a goodly speed twice around the arena. I broke out into a near run while Cisco sped his long legs up ever so little. He stayed with me the entire time. I like to put my hand on his neck just behind his head, so that as his goal. He passed!

I’ve had a problem keeping him going around me in a very close circle. He takes advantage of his freedom and moves further away from me. Today, I layed the carrot stick on his back and proceeded to walk forward. He stayed right with me and then I turned it into me standing in place and he circled me! Aha!

Next was our barrel and block squeezes. I had a heck of a time getting Cisco to walk between these obstacles at liberty. First it was tough to get him to follow me thru the obstacles. He preferred to go around the obstacles rather than thru them. That took a while. He also got a treat. Next I tried to stand near the obstacles and “send him through”. That didn’t work at all! We had a lot of discussion about where his body should be. I wanted his body lined up ready to walk thru the obstacles. He wanted his body completely on the other side of the obstacle from where I was standing. In all our discussion, he never left me to go running around the arena. For that I was quite pleased. I never did direct him thru the obstacles. It ended up with me begging him to come thru them to join up with me.
I was amazed at his level of distrust at something that he should have had confidence with. We will do more of this to raise his confidence!

I got on Cisco and off we went at a loose fast walk. This is his rehab gait. We did not experience any limping or shortened strides. I was so happy at that. Next our task was to ride thru the obstacles. We did extremely well. Next, we sped up a little and went between them at a just a bit faster than a walk speed. I also set up the barrels with a cone to hold my stick and string. We pretended the string was a gate and we opened and then shut the gait as we went between the barrels.

We did some backing around the obstacles as well as backed between. We need much more practice to get his confidence raised at backing thru.

What a fun arena time we had. We did get a nice flat foot walk going and a few steps of the fox trot.

Note: on the next day’s arena fun time, Cisco is perfectly fine with going between the obastacles at all kinds of requests from me!
We also did some great ground play sideways. From about 15′ away from me, he sidepassed over four comes about 20′ apart. I was standing almost in front of him. That meant I tapped my carrot stick on the ground, holding it out at my side. Even I was amazed that he understood that cue!

At the end of our fun day, I stood 22′ away from Cisco and asked him to sidepass down the wall from 22′ away.

Ground play is so much fun with an amazing horse!

PostHeaderIcon Cisco the Half Million Dollar Horse

I believe that Cisco is a Million Dollar Horse (MDH). He just hasn’t had the opportunity to prove it yet.

What? You want to know what a million dollar horse (MDH)is? No, it isn’t a Kentucky Deby winner or an Olympic horse champion.

Have you seen pictures of three to six year old children riding a horse without a nearby adult? The children’s legs don’t reach below the saddle pad. The horse walks slowly along. Or if the child is somewhat familiar with a horse, the horse will reluctantly go slightly faster if asked and asked again. A MDH is aso a lesson horse that you can put beginning adult riders on. The beginning adult rider might scream bloody murderer in fear and the horse ignores it. The beginning rider might lock up their body in nervous tension and the MDH ignores the fear and plods along. A MDH does not spook. All four feet stay sanely on the ground. Folks, I have described a Million Dollar Horse.

Following is the story of how Cisco earned his half million dollar title.

“She Who Will Not Be Named” (SWWNBN) asked an amazing professional trainer to ride Cisco today to evaluate his lameness recovery. The amazing trainer needed to ride Cisco using her own saddle. SWWNBN walked Cisco down the barn aisle to where the saddle and pad were waiting. Always helpful, SWWNBN planned to saddle up Cisco while the amazing trainer put up a horse and moved another horse around the horse lots. SWWNBN Had plenty of time to saddle Cisco.

SWWNBN put the saddle pad on Cisco and then picked up the saddle, rather tried to pick up the saddle. Darn, that saddle is heavy! Cisco is calmly standing in the aisle with a very loose lead rope dangling on SWWNBN’s arm. There was a mighty struggle going on with the saddle and the weak human. Finally, the human was able to lift the saddle and walk over to Cisco’s side. SWWNBN swung the saddle up on Cisco’s back. Sadly, the flung up saddle only reached Cisco’s side, not his top. The saddle hit Cisco’s side and bounced back into SWWNBN’s body. SWWNBN might have been a little off-balance by then. While stepping backwards to get her balance back, SWWNBN tripped. The saddle was dropped and fell in a crash right beside Cisco. The human fell backward and crashed into a stall wall. The human fell into a heap beside Cisco’s steel shod hooves.

Cisco did not move during this entire 20 second disaster. The rope attached to Cisco’s halter was also dropped. Cisco had been completely unrestained during the entire event. A heavy saddle was flung against his side, crashed to the ground and the human crashed against a stall and was knocked to the ground about a foot from his feet.

That is a half million dollar horse! Oh, by the way, Cisco is expected to make a full recovery! His leg did well in the assessment. “She WhoWill Not Be Named” will never be named.

PostHeaderIcon Opera will Cure It

I ushered the opera Marriage of Figaro the day after the Trump / Clinton presidential election.  Facebook was burning up.  I felt horrible on that morning as I was planning on celebrating our first woman president…not!  I decided that I couldn’t even ride Cisco as I might take my sadness and grumpiness out on him.  But I did go to Cisco and was lucky enough to have multi world champion trainer, Erin Patterson, ride  him.  When I went to the pasture to get Cisco, I forgot about the election.  After I watched Erin ride Cisco she gave me a few pointers on more finesse.

After Cisco was done, I watched an old friend take a lesson with Erin.  You could feel her happiness to be back involved with horses pouring out of her pores.  It has been a long long time since she got to ride because life got in the way.

I went home and watched bits of Ellen and Steve Harvey while part of me tried to nap.

It wasn’t long before it was time to get cleaned up and get my usher outfit on.

The Marriage of Figaro is a long opera.  The first act is an hour and a half.  Then there is a thirty minute intermission.  The second act is over an hour.  At intermission I was asking the patrons if they loved this opera.  One woman stopped and exclaimed, “This opera is great and just what we need on a day like today!”  I have to confess.  It took me a full thirty seconds or so to remember the nation’s anger, my anger and sadness and fear of facing a brand new scary world.

So, if you are feeling hatred, sadness, anger etc, The Marriage of Figaro is in it’s last week.  I recommend that you get tickets and soak up the magic of the amazing opera voices, the clever and tricky plot and laugh at all the humor included in the opera.  Also, since it is a long opera, you probably won’t get home till the next day, so that takes nearly an entire day of not being sad, scared or mad at the USA political system.  Go to the Opera!

PostHeaderIcon First the Bridle and Now the Saddle

I tell people that a new book is not possible because the humor of a person new to horses is gone.  Maybe that theory is flawed.  I might have had two humbling experiences just today and the last time I rode.  I might have dramatic, pathetic and humorous stories, even now.  You be the judge.

I decided to change bits today on Cisco’s bridle. Cisco made certain that he was involved in the exchange. He had his head mostly in my lap while I was trying to do this. Figuring out how to get the bit on the bridle and then the reins on this Wonder bit is complicated for me. I think they must call it a Wonder Bit because it makes people like me wonder how to install it correctly.

Finally, I got done and put the bridle on Cisco. Whoops, the bit must not have gone into his mouth. No, the bridle was too long and the bit just fell out of his mouth. I made the bridle shorter and put it on again. Hmmmm, the bridle still appears too long and the curb strap came no where near Cisco’s chin. I said, “The heck with this! I’ll just ride him bridleless today”.

I haven’t rode bridleless for quite a while. It appears that I have been assuming Cisco has been following my leg and body position (rather than the reins) quite well, but when you ride bridleless, you find the truth. I hate the truth. But the truth defines the journey!
Cisco and I were still impressive without the bridle but there is a lot of room for amazing “betterness”! (Yes, I just invented that word!)
I need to put more balance in my riding. I’ll be balancing my time with and without the bridle from now on.

Cisco had a nice weekend with this home herd.  He and I went back to play today.  Over the weekend, I had some alone time with four of my bridles.  One of them had another bit all perfectly hitched up to the bridle.  I was able to see how my bit should have been put on the bridle.  With my old dirty used bridle with the reins that are slowly rotting, but with the correct installation of the  Wonder bit, we are ready to ride!

I have rules for proper saddling and mounting a horse.  The saddle rules are as follows:  The horse must canter or jump over something along with tightening the girth at least three times.  I followed the rules.  Cisco cantered both ways in a round pen.  I tightened the saddle gradually at least three times.  The saddle was secure when I mounted.  If the girth would have been loose, the saddle and I would have fallen off the horse during mounting.

Cisco and I spent a long while practicing skills in the arena.  Near the end of our session, I asked him to canter.  I had this strange feeling that my body couldn’t keep straight in the saddle.  I stopped and scootched the saddle back straight on his back.  We cantered off.  Hmmm, I still had a wee problem with keeping my body balanced in the saddle.  We stopped and walked for a moment when I heard banging.  My saddle was making a banging noise.  My saddle is normally a nice and quiet saddle.  It has  never made a banging noise.  I checked those little straps that hang off the saddle.  Nope, they were not causing a banging noise.  I looked at my cinch.  Good Lordy!  My cinch wasn’t secured on the ring correctly.  I had Cisco creep toward the round pen and I got off on the round pen panel.  I climbed down the round pen to solid earth.  I went to the other side of Cisco and looked at my girth.  Good Lordy!  My girth was not secure.  It was not tight.  It was barely even touching Cisco.  I had been riding purely balanced on Cisco’s back with no anchor for the saddle.  If he would have spooked sideways, the saddle and I would have left his back.  If I had asked him to jump over something, I might have had quite an experience!  I followed all the rules of tightening my girth.  I broke the rule of securely fastening the strap to the saddle.  I didn’t twist it around the ring at all.  Good grief, protect me against brain loss!

What is Holding the Saddle on Cisco?

One should not ride with a loose girth

What will happen the next time I ride Cisco?  I am taking applications for guardian angel!

PostHeaderIcon Remember the Lessons Velvet Taught You, Susan

Why did Velvet canter every time I asked her to leg yield at a lesser gait.  We were walking, I asked her to leg yield and she tried to canter.  We were in the next gait up, I asked her to leg yield and she tried to canter.  Then I realized I was asking her to leg yield with force in my legs.  I remembered that I thought about the difference between a cue and asking for a faster gait.

I’ve been thinking the same thing about Cisco lately.  How am I cueing him to leg yield and how do I cue him to canter.  It seems to me that I’m doing the same thing for both of those tasks and we are having a problem with it.

Today, I remembered that Velvet had already taught me the answer.  The answer is heels.  Velvet taught me that I should touch her with my heel to leg yield.  She tried to teach me to squeeze with both legs with my left or right heal in the correct position to ask for the left or right lead.

I also figured out today that when I am asking Cisco to keep fox trotting instead of slowing down, I should bend both knees and ask him to keep going with a gentle squeeze.  My goodness, it worked today.  We stopped breaking gait when I started bending my knees. and squeezing.

There are a few people that will understand this mumbo jumbo.

PostHeaderIcon Cisco Worship

Every day I agonize over how I can let Cisco know what a wondrous horse he is to give me so much try and affection.

Should I just go into his pasture and feed him treats non stop all day long?
How about me brushing him daily for 3 hours?
Can I feed him a bag of horse feed every day?
Let me rub behind his ears, rub his withers, rub his head, rub his nose, scratch his belly, scratch other itchy places etc for three hours every day.  Would that work?
Should I give him a warm bath every day?  Should he be squeaky clean, oil and germ free clean every day?
I could stand in front of him and tell him, “Good Boy” one hundred times a day.
He would love me taking him out to find the greenest clover patches and letting him graze for four – six hours every day.

Instead of all the above,I take him out of his pasture, put a saddle on him and play with him on-line, at liberty and riding most every day.  I try to rub him when he does something I’ve asked for him to do.  I try to give him stops, rubbing and resting moments when he has put effort into a task.  I give him a treat when his “try” is special.  I do try to tell him, “Good Boy” when he gives me a great try.  I do occasionally take him out to graze at wondrous clover patches after our playtime.

His feed program is healthy.  His weight and body composition is perfect.  His teeth are “adjusted” yearly.  He gets veterinarian exam and yearly inoculations.  His feet are trimmed by the best farrier on the planet.

I need to get an animal communicator so I can ask Cisco what more I can do for him!

PostHeaderIcon Afraid of Gates or Worry?

I’ve wrapped up enough examples to know that Cicso is darn certain that a gate will kill him, We were so scared of the gate at the April 2015 Spring Horse show that we just zipped around it.
Cisco was terrifie of the gate at the 2015 versatility arena at Ava shows both June and September. We have yet to make an entrance through a strange gate using my right hand. Cisco can barely tolerate me using my left hand to open and shut a gate. Usually gates are set up to go thru with the rider’s right hand. We have to back through the gate when using the left hand, much more difficult.

Or is it something else? Cisco is a deep horse, one that thinks things through. He was very well trained when I got him.

While Cisco has been my horse, we found that he worries. He doesn’t get comfortable quickly in different places. He worries. It takes him a while to relax in strange places. This is not immediately apparent to anyone. He hides it well. Underneath that perfectly calm outer exterior can be a worried horse in an environment new to him.

I worry that ulcers can form. Therefore, I’ve taken to feeding him alfalfa pellets. Alfalfa produces digestive juices that flood the entire gut, lower and higher of the horse. Ulcers are found in the upper level of the horse’s system. When worry hits, the ulcers start hurting and the horse reacts. So, I’m trying to prevent ulcers from forming by getting that alfalfa to do the job of massaging the inside of the horse.

I’ve found that Cisco likes to move when he is worried. Standing still is not an option when he is highly worried. But yet, I let him walk out and he appears to be calm.

Standing still at a location new to him is not good. He moves his body around, trying to move forward while I’m telling him to stand still.

The rope gate at the latest horse show, Spring 2016, was a frightening thing. He had to hold still while I grabbed the rope loop off the fence. Oh that was difficult. He might have been worried that it was an electric fence kind of a rope. However, he has been just as scared of a regular metal gate. I finally was able to grab the rope with my right hand.

Cisco hopped up and down with his front feet. He was very upset. I felt no fear. I didn’t fear that Cisco was going to buck or bolt, so I hung on to the rope. I had a 22′ rope to hang on to and maneuver around with. In not too long, I got Cisco to back into the arena and I was able to hang the rope back on the post. It was incredible how upset he was. We went thru the trail obstacles fairly successful. He was very worried.

Next I had also signed up for the Open Trail Obstacle class. Our fearful rope gate adventure was repeated. On the 4th obstacle, the back thru L, Cisco lost it. We scratched that obstacle and went on to the next.

While the rest of the riders where going through their trail course, Cisco and I took advantage of being able to ride in the covered arena where the rest of the horse show was to be held. We moved and he was fine.

When it came time for Western Pleasure, Cisco did great. Cisco did great on all the remaining rail classes. He never stood still for too long while we waited to ride in the remaining five classes in which we were entered. The last class was Open Fox Trotter, Will Canter. Cisco’s canter was not exactly like a rocket. We didn’t go fast enough to orbit into outer space. I could tell that he was not yet relaxed and used to his surroundings. Oh my what a day it was!

We will be practicing a rope gate, and comparing, remembering and thinking about Cisco and his worries.

Fast forward to late 2016. We now have assessed Cisco to be a right brain extrovert . Read about the right brain extrovert In this article.

What personality is your horse?

PostHeaderIcon Saddle Hell Saga

I was a beginning adult rider in the mid 90′s and started out my riding life using my childhood saddle.  My childhood saddle fit my large pony and a narrow Saddlebred horse back in the sixties.

After some months of daily riding, horrid silver dollar size white spots developed on Sage’s withers.  My saddle was too tight and cut the circulation off at those two spots.  After no blood flow for a while, the horse’s hair grows white.  It was a blow as it meant young Sage had experienced pain while I was riding her.

Thus began saddle hell.

We had the Internet then so I was able to look at saddles on the Internet.  I found the Sharon Saare Saddle site.  Sharon was an early endurance rider.  She rode the famed Tevis Endurance ride with a 50 lb western saddle.  Light weight saddles, other than English saddles, were not yet invented.  Sharon invented a light weight Western Saddle.  She then learned that all horses did not fit under one tree.  By the time I found her, she had developed 9 trees.  Clearly, this was the saddle for me.  I ordered a saddle with a tree for a wide mutton withered horse.  Saddle fit at that time was determined by sweat pattern.  I rode the saddle and the sweat pattern was better, but still unacceptable.  I still had too much pressure on her withers.  She did not sweat where the saddle was too tight.  Here is an up to date explanation of all the Sharon Saddles by Barb Peck.  There is not much information detailing the eleven trees now offered by the current owner of the Sharon Saare saddles

I tried different pads.  I tried expensive pads.  I knew that if I spent enough money on magic pads and magic saddles, the problem would be solved.  Sadly, this is a false statement.  Money does not matter in saddle fit.  Knowledge matters.  So far my knowledge had failed.

I went to Equine fairs that had saddle makers.  Some of them gave speeches about saddle fit.  Dave Genadek was the new hero of saddle fit and I got to hear him talk and see his trees and saddles.  Plus he had saddle fitters in my area!  Oh excitement.  A Dave “saddle fitter” came to our barn.  Several of us were interested and different trees were put on the horses to find a fit.  A tree was put on Sage and declared “the right tree”.  I took a picture and had the film developed.  I was leary of Dave’s saddles.  He had only three trees available and I had failed with a saddle company that had 9 trees.  Why would this tree fit Sage when the other didn’t?  It was only when I got the picture of Sage with the tree on her back developed that I understood the problem.  Sage was a “downhill” horse.  Here is Dave’s web site now.

Pictures are two dimensional.  Real life is three dimensional.  I did look at Sage to see if she was a downhill horse early on.  I remember measuring her rear end and her front end.  She did not look downhill.  The wither and the rear measurement were very nearly equal.  I determined early on that she wasn’t a downhill horse.  But now I had a picture of Sage with a wooden tree on her back.  The tree pointed down on her withers. All my weight shifts to the front of the saddle in two silver dollar size pain spots.  Oh my!  This saddle would have been just like the Sharon Saare saddle or even worse.

Shims had not yet come into the saddle fitting vocabulary or perhaps I gave a try to shims and it was just too unknown of a concept for me to grasp.

Questing around for saddle maker experts, I found an Australian saddle maker who claimed he could fit any horse..  I called him.  He told me that he could build shims in the saddle.  He would build in the shims and make the saddle fit.  Oh my!  My excitement level was high.  He had directions on taking pictures and measuring Sage’s back.  I got all this together and picked out my Australian saddle.  It did have a horn.  It also had those knee pads or poley.  With my theory that money makes a difference, I ordered the most expensive saddle he had.  Expensive saddles have lots of leather. Plus I am a large sized person who needs a bigger saddle.  Bigger saddles have more leather and weigh more. Expensive large saddles contain lots of very good leather. When you put these concepts together with a wooden tree and the built-in shims, it makes for heavy.  I now owned a very well made Australian saddle that fit Sage.  Oh I was so happy as I drug that saddle up on Sage.  It might have been the Down Under “The Legend with Horn”. I did love the knee pad/poley.  When I changed back to a Western saddle, I really missed the support of the poley.

I took Sage and Velvet to the Missouri Fox Trotter World Show.  I read the rulebook and the rulebook said they didn’t allow Austratlian saddles in performance classes.  What!  Now I am on fire to find another saddle that I can show in which is a lighter weight.

It is about this time that Brenda Imus came along with her claim to know all things about gaited horses.  Plus, she had a saddle that had a special Supracor® liner that would make her saddle fit all gaited horse.   I sold the Australian behemoth and got my Imus saddle made by Amish saddle makers.  The saddle did OK while I was riding my older horses and the younger horse, JR.  But I had a two year old horse starting out.  After his start, I rode him and always ended up with my saddle on his neck.  And this little upstart colt decided to buck me off one afternoon, breaking my collar bone.  Good Lordy.

There was a strap broken on the saddle and I took it to a local saddle repair guy.  He took one look at the three point saddle girthing rigging system and told me it would likely work its way forward on a horse’s back.  I felt betrayed.  This saddle tried to kill me.  I sold it to a fan of Brenda Imus.

By this time the Tucker saddle had gained a lot of fame.  I ordered a Tucker saddle.  It fit Sage like a glove.  It fit Velvet.  It was a dream saddle.  But wait.  After riding my dream saddle for about an hour, I became a rider in serious pelvic pain.  I would get off barely able to walk.  Surely this was a one-time glitch.  I rode the saddle again and right about at an hour, the pain started.  Now I had a great saddle that fit the horse.  The saddle was comfortable for me for an hour.  I can’t go through life riding for a limited time of an hour.

Here’s how the Tucker tree was explained to me by the foremost saddle dealer in my world at the time, Freddy Fender.   The Tucker human seat is like a basket.  The ride sits on a a comfortable “basket” above the tree.  The “basket” has to be wider than the tree to fit.  Thus a rider’s pelvic bones have to be wider to fit the saddle.  I am a size large large in fat, but my bones are not of a wide enough width to fit the Tucker Saddle.  Oh cry…the best fitting saddle and it makes me moan with intense pain.  I looked for tree information on the Tucker saddle to see what the saddle tree is like now: Tucker Saddle Rider Fit. I would hate to pick out a Tucker saddle now after reading all this information.

Usually, a woman has a wider pelvis than a man and it makes it tougher for a woman to ride a saddle built for a man.  Long ago, this point was made a saddle makers started coming out with women’s saddles.  Who knows if this is being done now!

Next up is the Orthoflex saddle. The Orthoflex saddle was big news at the time.  The inventor, Len Brown, has sold the company and now sells Corrector Pads.  Here is the current  explanation of saddle fit from Len Brown I went to Freddy Fender and explained the situation and how I now wanted the new Orthoflex saddle.  He told me the Orthoflex saddle is built much like the Tucker saddle with the “basket” above the tree.  But he had one particular Orthoflex saddle in mind that was made more narrow in the seat that most of them.  I bought that saddle.  It must have weighed 45 lbs.  I could just barely manage to throw the saddle up on the horse.  When I rode at my original boarding stable, I carried the saddle to the large mounting block.  I got the saddle up on the mounting block.  I got myself up on the mounting block.  I was much better able to put the saddle on the horse with a three foot high head start!  The saddle worked really well.  It fit me and it fit the horse.  I might have had it for about six months when the unthinkable happened.  I carried the saddle out to my trailer, put Sage in and took off to a clinic or trail ride.  I stopped in Harrisonville at the Farm and Home Store.  When I got out of my truck, my back went out.  I was barely able to climb back into the truck cab.  I managed to drive back to the boarding stable.  I had someone get Sage out of the trailer and put her away.  I drove off to the hospital.  It took them a few heating pads and pain medication to get me to where I could make it home into the house.  It was that heavy saddle!  My back just couldn’t take tossing my saddle up on my horse anymore.  Orthoflex saddle had to go!

At this time of the century, more people started getting into saddle fit.  Linda Parelli started studying saddle fit and the instructors were all given a course in saddle fit.  A couple years went by and Linda had an English saddle made for her.  More time had gone by and the Parelli world produced saddles.  I ordered one of the original Natural Performer saddles.  This was a Western saddle.  In my horse life, I was now riding Sue.  Sue was a horse that had been ruined by people and she was slowly starting to return to saneness.  I got my new saddle and rode Sue.  Oh wow!  The Natural Performer was really an English saddle in disguise as a Western saddle.  I felt like is was high and dry on Sue’s back.  It was a very uncomfortable experience.  I don’t really understand how something that looks like a Western saddle rides like an English saddle.  I tried hard with that saddle.  I rode it and was nearly always just slightly nervous in it.  A Western saddle is supposed to be like sitting inside the horse’s back and cuddle you against all sideways motion.  This saddle felt like I was high above my horse and had no support from the seat or fenders to keep from slipping sideways out of the saddle.

I crawled back to Freddy Fender in Harrionsville and met Rhonda Martin.  She had recently moved to Harrisonville and was highly versed in saddle fit.  It was Rhonda that started me out on the Circle Y Flex Lite saddle.  Oh I loved that saddle.  It was light weight.  It fit me.  It acted like a Western saddle.  I came back a few years later and bought a used Circle Y Flex Lite that had a suede seat.  I rode the heck out of that saddle.  Some years later a person at the boarding stable was getting out of horses and he had a pecan colored Cirle Y Flex Lite saddle.  I bought that saddle from him.  I continued to ride in the suede seat saddle.  And that is when my earlier story of the broken tree occurred.

I have no saddle answers.  I wrote this article to describe how difficult saddles can be and some things to think about.  Saddle pads have come a long way.  I have a CSI saddle pad and you get what you pay for…protection for the horse.  I have shims now which need to be used if a horse’s back needs support.  I rely on Rhonda Martin, expert saddle fitter.  When it comes time for me to really think about getting another saddle, I’ll ask Rhonda for advice.  I don’t trust saddle makers.  They go on and on about saddle twist and rock, but there are few companies in existence that make the trees. Saddle makers don’t talk about a downhill horse.  They talk about twist, rock and width of the tree.

I could easily make a Sharon Saare saddle work now with my CSI pad and shims.  Oh the journey to saddle knowledge is huge.  Parelli has now spent years and years of testing saddles and developed many more styles. Checkout Parelli Saddles. They now have a barrel saddle that really makes the rider secure.  Pat Parelli rides in a saddle invented by Craig Johnson.  It has a tree made out of some kind of thick movable rubber life material.

 I have long been impressed by the Steele saddle tree.  Many saddle makers use Steele trees. I just found the Steele tree site and think this is the best explanation possible.  Similar to the Sharon Saare saddle, there are nine different trees and a way to find out if the tree fits your horse.

Buyer Beware.

PostHeaderIcon One in Six Saddles Might Have Broken Trees – AKA Death of a Saddle

Circle Y Flex Lite saddle hiding a cracked tree

Circle Y Flex Tree crack

Circly Y Flex Lite saddle hiding a cracked tree

Have you saddle checked for things like cracked tree

Circle Y Flex Lite cracked tree

Cracked saddle tree on both sides

Cracked Ralide Flex Lite Circle Y Saddle

Cracked Tree

I love Circle Y Flex tree saddles so much that I have three of them. A couple years ago I managed to let go of the ones I don’t use to get them checked and cleaned. However. I couldn’t let the one that I use daily leave to get cleaned and checked. I had bought this saddle a long long time ago and it was checked out before I bought it.

This summer was a horrid hot and humid one. I stopped riding plus I was going on a week long trip. I decided to let Donna of Yellow Boot Saddlery take my beloved saddle, along with a few broken and filthy bridles to be checked, cleaned and oiled.

The unthinkable happened. Donna called me and I was somewhere in the middle of Kansas on my way to Colorado.
“Susan, I hate to give you this news. Your saddle tree is cracked. It is cracked on both sides.”

My world spun to a stop. My beloved saddle was dead. MY BELOVED SADDLE IS DEAD! Donna managed to get a few more sentences in. She mentioned that they had seen a lot more cracked trees than they ever thought. She said many people are riding on saddles with cracked trees. My brain registered these words, but i heard the unsaid words, your saddle is dead. I was gruff with Donna. I think I was mean. She had called and gave me horrible news. Poor Donna was the bearer of bad news. Forgive me Donna. I have apologized since and Donna understands.

I came home from my week of wonderful travel and it was time to visit Yellow Boot Saddelry. Donna showed me my dead beloved saddle. I saw the cracks. Donna told me that the flex lite tree is not the best tree In the tree world for a daily, hard riding rider. My riding is all speeds with slide stops, roll backs. turns, spins, etc.. If I were an easy going recreational rider, the tree wouldn’t be so stressed. I had certainly never thought of myself as a “hard rider”.

More bad news was coming. My favorite “on the rail dressy bridle was made out of underbelly leather. My bridle had started stretching. It was too long in Cisco’s mouth and it was the smallest it could go. This spring I was astride Cisco at a horse show with my class coming up next when the bit fell out of Cisco’s mouth. That was exciting. Donna told me the sides of my bridle were made out of the cheapest worst leather part of the cow. It should be against the law to make a bridle out of this cheap leather. What! I have been “taken”! Buying a new bridle is cheaper than fixing this one. Sniffle

I brought my other two Circle Y Flex Lite saddles for Donna to check. They had been cleaned and checked 3 years ago. Both trees passed inspection, but I got to see again how cheaply it was made. My favorite of the two had a piece of leather and when Donna tugged on it, the stitching broke. The stitching material is cheap. Donna kept the saddle and sent me pictures a couple days later showing screws in the wrong place. The screws were ready to come lose and come thru the place where I sit. They were already loose and the saddle seat had bumps where they were about to erupt into my tender places. Good Lordy! Donna said this was an after market deal. Where did these misplaced screws come from. I bought this saddle used also.

Yellow Boot Sadlery just got started this year. Donna told me that they have found one in six saddles have broken or cracked trees. Those are bad odds. I’m keeping my broken saddle in my trailer and will show everyone what a broken tree looks like.

PostHeaderIcon An Amazing September 2016 Weekend!

I spent three days at the World Show watching Velvet and Powder perform magnificently in their classes. Way to go Nichole Hack and Caitlyn Vaught! You both are amazing and bring the best to these lucky horses you ride! They are truly blessed to have you.

That was three exciting days. I arrived in Ava, Mo and discovered, I left both my iPad and my iPhone at home. That was not acceptable since I was going on to Colorado,for more marvelous picture moments. I drove back home…200 miles… on Monday to get them. Back again 200 miles to Ava on Tuesday to root for Powder and Velvet… And maybe everyone else in the versatility arena. On Wednesday afternoon after the versatility speed events, I met up with my great friends, Apryl and Hope, and off we went to the Parelli Summit in Pagosa Springs, Colorda. We took two days to get there.

Upon our arrival the next morning at the Parelli ranch, I discovered someone had taken all the oxygen out of the air. We watched the amazing horses and horsemanship and then we struggled up and down slight slopes to get to the porta potties and vendor tents. Occasionally, my heart felt like it would explode out of my chest and at my age, it could really happen. The Summit was Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Off we went late Sunday afternoon headed home. We made it to Garden City, Ks and then home on Monday. Then it was a 2 hour drive for me to get to Kansas City. I had that deep tiredness inside me.

Last month I gave my beloved Circle Y Flex Tree saddle to Yellow Boot Saddlery to clean and restore. On the drive to Pagosa Springs, Donna called me with heart-breaking news. My tree was broken on both sides. What! My beloved saddle that I worship and used for an unknown number of years is broken beyond repair! My beloved saddle is dead. I fussed at Donna. She was the bearer of horrid news. Poor Donna. My response was, well, gruff!

Donna told me that they had found a lot of saddles with broken trees. A lot of us are wandering around with broken trees. Tony Vaught had been telling me for years, there was something wrong with flex saddles. Apparently he was right about this particular saddle. Luckily, I had been using the CSI saddle pad for a long time. That might have helped the horses I had ridden with that saddle.

Tuesday was a Susan Universe shut down and I emerged slightly tired tarnished on Wednesday. We had a clinic with Tony and Jenny Vaught on Friday, two hours away at Harmony Horseman in Hiawatha, Ks. Off I went on Friday late morning. I knew I would be late, but I had a great excuse! I pulled in around 2:00 pm and was sad when entering the arena as there were only a few people there. Oh No! Hardly anyone came to the clinic! What’s up with that? I got unpacked, got Cisco saddled, warmed up and rode him. Around 4:00 or so, I found out the clinic was Saturday and Sunday, not Friday and Saturday. My brain failed me!

The good part of this is that I got to ride Cisco and I was on-time for the clinic starting on Saturday. I got to take part in the introduction and tell people my name and what I wanted to work on. I was first to talk. I decided to demonstrate what I wanted to work on rather than the express it verbally. I got up and skipped across the space and changed my lead foot to skip on the other foot. There were a few people in attendance that had never met me. Oh boy, I bet they thought I was a deranged old adult. I was non verbally telling Jnny I wanted to work on flying lead changes. She got it right away!

Playing with Cisco on the ground and riding him is always an incredible experience. We communicated. He tried to understand my fumbling cues. He gives me two or three times what I ask for. He tries his heart out. That is his personality.

Saturday afternoon about 3:00, my brain got hot. It didn’t hurt, it just got hot. I didn’t feel bad, dizzy or sick. My brain just got hot. I gave up about 4:30, got Cisco bathed, fed and settled and went to my room, took a shower and crawled into the bed. I was in the dark and finally, the brain cooled down around 8:30. What the heck was that! I didn’t get to go out and eat dinner with the crowd. I hate missing the social part of the clinics!

I did suffer from saddle grief throughout the clinic. I have two more Circle Y flex Lite saddles. I rode one of them on Friday and my body cursed it. It doesn’t have the padding that my beloved saddle has or something. It causes parts of my unmentionable parts to experience pain. I changed saddles on Saturday. This saddle has always been challenging for me to keep my right foot in the stirrup. About two hours into the clinic on Saturday, both my feet started hurting. It is the darn stirrups causing the problem. I have Don Orel stirrups on my beloved saddle. I need those stirrups on this saddle!

I also had given my favorite bridles to Yellow Boots Saddlery to clean last month. I was riding Cisco in the Myler snaffle bit. He was resisting my directions. Finally, I got off and went to get a one-ear bridle that I never use. It does have a bit that Cisco likes and responds well too. It was near the end of the day and the heat in my brain mentioned above got to me soon after.

I started out using the one-earred bridle on Sunday. I discovered that Cisco’s head action during his fox trot immediately upon cantering throws the headstall off his hear backwards on his neck. So I was wearing a bridle with nothing to make it stay in place. That was irritating! I had to get off and take the time to change the good bit to a bridle with a browband! The entire weekend I was mad at my broken saddle for dying on me. I was occasionally mad at my bridles! These things cause grumpiness, especially when riding in temperatures in the upper 80′s temperature. GRUMPY!

Sunday when we started doing leg yields and flying change exercises, my mood went up into exceeding happiness. Again I repeat, Cisco gave me his heart and try! I love that horse!