Tuesday, February 21, 2012

a good but thoughtful ride

After a bit of a spell of not riding, Keil Bay and I got back to the arena today. After so many wonderful rides in December and January, I was eager to get on, and really looking forward to riding in the sunshine this afternoon.

I got on a kick recently about stirrup leathers, namely wanting to eradicate the bulk of a regular stirrup leather (doubled) plus the buckle under the flap. I've ridden with these leathers ever since Keil Bay came to live with me and never really had an issue, but for some reason I suddenly decided to try the Bates Leather Webbers to see if losing the bulk made any difference.

A few differences right off the bat:

I ordered the longer leathers and even on the highest hole they are pretty long for me - not too long, but there is no room to shorten.

Keil Bay has also put on a little weight, and it seemed like the saddle was sitting up just a tad higher on his back than usual.

He's never been girthy but today he actually licked and chewed as I buckled his girth - which went a hole less than usual, also indicating some weight gain.

He walked out of the barn with a rhythmic stride, ears forward, clearly ready to go to work. We had no trouble at the mounting block. All to say that he seemed actually more eager than usual for a ride.

We did a long bit of walking while I adjusted to the new feel of the saddle. My upper thighs were definitely flatter and my legs longer with these new leathers. I expected things to feel different but I expected it to be a very clearly positive change. Instead, it felt - not bad at all, but just... different.

One thing I noticed immediately was that my leg aids were sharper and clearer, which makes sense. The legs were able to drape a bit more naturally without that bulk up top - but my seat felt different. I'm not sure I can describe how it felt - again, not bad in any way, but not like the last rides I've had.

But... no twinges! Either I'm more stretched out now than I was in December/January or this new lack of bulk changed my hip angles in a good way. It might also be that what felt good/new about my seat in December and January now feels... normal.

Hands and reins were very much as they were the last wonderful rides. I feel like whatever notched into place with the contact is still happening.

Another interesting thing is that when we trotted, the contact was terrific, Keil was terrific, but something felt off in my posting - I could feel the pommel more than usual. Again - not a bad feeling, but just something I don't remember noticing before.

And then, two times coming around to the right in the exact same place (by the main arena gate), Keil did a little balk. He wanted to either stop or go across the diagonal but when I asked him to go straight down that long side he stopped and ... thought about backing up but neither time did he actually go backwards.

Each time he did this I circled him to the right in a small circle and then aimed straight down the arena at the trot. Trot was great, I could feel the pommel, but things were otherwise fine. There was no issue once we got on that straight line.

It was so unusual though for Keil to balk, I stopped after the second circle/trot correction and got off. Nothing seemed off about the saddle or bridle, hooves were clean, and he did his usual post-ride snort and happy face. He walked normally to the barn. Everything seemed normal.

This week looks like a good one to get a nice string of riding days in, so I can see how things go tomorrow.


Calm, Forward, Straight said...

KB is such a cool horse - I love reading about your interactions with him.

Don't know about you, but the sticky-outy flap over the bar where the leathers hang is fairly bulky on my saddle. It makes sense that it will take time to get used to that change, but seems like it would be an improvement overall.

I want to try some of those Webbers. Reckon I need something to attach them to first.

Looking at a nice week for riding here too. :D

Grey Horse Matters said...

I've never actually seen those leathers. You should post a picture of them. The no-bulk and maybe a tad longer stirrup length could possibly account for how you feel in the saddle and why you feel the pommel. I could be wrong, hard to tell without actually seeing. Anyway, it sounds like you had a nice day, with more to come. Keil is a great guy.

billie said...

C, that flap was definitely bulked out with my old leathers and is now completely flat with these new ones. I thought it would feel wonderful but I wasn't expecting my seat to feel so different.

Today I'm going to ride without the sheepskin seat saver I've been using and see how things feel.

billie said...

A, I'm thinking maybe it is the shift in my hip angle plus the longer legs that added the pommel effect - I'll see how it goes today.

I'll try to get a shot of these leathers - they are gorgeous, very soft and fine. The only downside I see to them is that technically I guess they are not as secure - relying on the stitching on top instead of the actual loop of leather, and below, at the stirrup, relying on the t-hook to hold.

I wouldn't jump in them.

The local consignment shop had a pair of very fine Stubben leathers with a flat buckle that I am thinking of getting in the event that Keil Bay and I want to do something a bit more rigorous. :)