Thursday, October 24, 2013

Change with the times...this is not a sewing post

As Nick and I trotted around the arena, I leaned back, moved my feet forward a tad, and rotated my toes out.  I touched him with both spurs and he gave me a burst of "fast and furious" trot...not what I wanted.  I remembered Dave saying "Leave your heels there-keep asking", so I did with more determination.  I consciously relaxed everything but those heels and gave a kiss.  There! Nick lofted into a lovely, round canter which he held for more than one circle.  My feet came back a little, and he dropped into a trot and then halted square, breathing a little hard.

These cues are not at all what I am used to-but they are the cues my trainer used to teach Nick to lope correctly.  This man rode broncs when younger, and worked cattle his entire life.  Who am I to question his methods?  He taught my reluctant to canter pony to GO...and for that, I am thrilled. The cue could be anything-inside leg on the girth, outside leg back; turn into or out of a corner; or even just a vocal cue.  I watched a rider on YouTube wave an arm in the air, and I'm convinced he was using the arm to cue lead changes.

We all fall prey to complacency sometimes, and this summer and fall has been my time to set aside complacency in my riding, and work my ass off learning new skills.  My own skills and competencies were not enough, and neither was the equipment I was using.

Lesson #1: We show horses what we want by applying a pressure, and then rewarding the horse by removing that pressure when he/she does what we want.  

Simple, huh?  But what if the pressure you apply makes no difference?  In my case, I haven't used spurs in oh...20 years.  Yep, just leg with an occasional light touch with a dressage whip.  So, I hunted up my old spurs, and strapped those babys on.  hahahaaaahhhhaaaaa.

Nothing.  Nada.  No response.

It was at this point that I thought I heard a very slight chuckle from Nick.

So I tried a bat (short, noisy whip)--->

Definite chuckles this time.  I was starting to wonder if I had somehow had my experience sucked out of me-I was feeling like a pea green rider.

After many different techniques, and lots of round penning etc...here is what works:
Yes, I am now using 2 inch spurs with rowels.  It takes what it takes.

Now,  I have ridden in some variety of an English saddle since my 20s, and have spent countless hours practicing dressage and classical training techniques.   I know there is attitude on both sides of the aisle-->western riders think English riders are sissy, and English riders think western riders are too insensitive.   At this stage of my life, I just wanna ride.  If Nick needs me to turn up the volume on the cues, I can do that.  In fact, if he wants to go as a western horse, I can do that too.

Here is my new saddle!!  I'm going to need to sew some western shirts :-)

The broom handle is inserted after getting the stirrup leathers wet and twisting them.  The leathers will dry with a slight twist and the stirrups are then easier to get your foot into.  Also, your legs hang in a more natural position with the stirrups out like that.
This is a used saddle (barely), and I cleaned it last night.  I still need to wipe it down and condition it.  It is a Circle Y saddle, a company well respected in saddle making.  It has a rawhide tree, a detail I was looking for.  The saddle is completely covered with tooling, and has cool braiding on the pommel.  The suede seat is in good shape and is stitched with a beautiful design.

Here is a close up of the tooling motif:

Now, I need to find an Aussie hat with a helmet inside.

19 comments:

  1. A good old Aussie iconic Acubra hat will just top this saddle of nicely (though, naturally I am biased about the Aussie bit!) Thanks for sharing this post, it certainly shows that everything has a craft aspect to it ... J

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    1. Yes, an Aussie hat is definitely more my style than a cowboy hat. I mean, I'm a distance rider, not a cowhand. I'm glad you enjoyed the post as I too feel that saddlemaking is a craft and an art which needs support.

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  2. 1. What a gorgeous saddle! 2. I'm moved and impressed that you are pushing yourself as hard as you're pushing Nick to learn and grow - well done! 3. My wimpy little shitkickers quivered & ran back to the closet upon seeing your Real Western Spurs. 4. I look forward to seeing your Western shirts!

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    1. Thanks Jillian, I have really worked this summer and fall. I have missed immersing myself in sewing but this had to be done :-) Your comment made me LOL...those spurs are serious!

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  3. Wow, what a gorgeous saddle. I was never a serious rider like you are with the spurs and all. The silliest thing I ever did on a horse was ride him(Sam) with a blanket on his back. (He was my best friend's horse.) That is really incredible what you are doing with Nick!!

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    1. Thanks Jen! Silly with horses is good too.

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  4. Am so happy for you and nick. Time and effort well spent, you are clearly very pleased with results and the direction it has taken the two of you. You will look beautiful in western shirts...and what a striking saddle.

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    1. Hi Coco, Not too sure about the western shirts-but I may buy some Wranglers.

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  5. Of course I honed straight in on the magnificent saddle with that glorious stitching. What a truly lovely thing! Gucci started out making saddles, and it is something I've always liked about their bags that they all have some nod to their equestrian roots on their bags somewhere; the bit-inspired hardware, the flaps with saddle-like shaping and stitching. An Aussie hat; do you mean an Akubra? I have a couple, helmetless ones, but rarely wear them!

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    1. Oh, that's right-I had forgotten that about Gucci.

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  6. Interesting post, that is a beautiful saddle.

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    1. It is a good lookinfg saddle and in great shape for a used saddle.

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  7. I love your posts, sewing or not. So do keep it up, what ever is on your mind?

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    1. Okay :-) I am so full of gratitude for the help I have received in 1)getting a replacement horse for Woodrow and 2)helping Nick become a better riding horse.

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  8. Mary, I so appreciate your writing. Thank you for sharing this fascinating journey with us. Beautiful saddle. Western shirts -- there's always more to learn with sewing, isn't there?

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  9. Thanks!! I'm glad you are enjoying hearing about my other hobby.

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  10. I've never been into horses that much but I love leatherwork. You should sew some western shirts.
    Thank you for a look see into your other interests.

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