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July 12, 2018: Saddle Up

For some time I have had saddle fit issues. I know that this pales in comparison to what others are dealing with, i.e. drug, alcohol, and job-related issues to name just a few. So I am writing about this well knowing just how trite this might appear to be to non-horse people., but it is not at all trite to those who are horse people.

I avoided giving any thought to saddles and fitting when I purchased Raudi because this was then three years down the road. And when the time came to get a saddle, I didn’t have too much of a problem getting what I was looking for, which was a treeless saddle. I purchased it from Jessica Kelsch who was then living in North Pole, Alaska and now lives in Palmer.

Adjusting latigo

The treeless saddle was okay for short jaunts but not for trail riding or long distance trekking. I purchased a few treeless saddles and an English saddle, and finally settled on my current saddle, a Synergist.

I’ve been happy with the Synergist saddle; although it has seemed to me to drop more to the right than it should.

The bigger problem is me. My only formal lessons have taken place in arena settings. I have not had that much arena training, just enough to internalize a few key concepts, one being how to post.

Arena riding is all about control. You generally have short reins, short stirrups, and your alignment that complements being on a flat surface. The terrain is flat, even, and made of the same substance. And there are the given boundaries of four walls.

Trail riding may be about giving up some of that control. You generally have looser reins, longer stirrups, and your alignment complements being on a varied surface. For example, you can be riding on gravel one minute, and the next be riding on soft ground. And there are no visual boundaries.

I have been riding like an arena rider up until this point in time. I have been fairly rigid, and have at the trot always posted. Posting is an up and down movement that complements the horses’ leg movements at the trot. And my stirrups have, up until now, been short so that I might more easily post.

Pete spent a lot of time today, taking apart the saddle and looking at the leathers. He deduced that one was longer than the other. So we evened them up by moving the buckle that holds them in place. He also moved the fender forward because one foot when in the stirrup is cocked to the side; this (we think) has been contributing to my sense that I am off kilter.

After all was said and done, I went for a ride to Grizzly Camp. I did stop and readjust the stirrup length, and I think, I’ve finally, gotten it right. Hard to say.

The jury is out right now because I am riding so differently and this could be affecting my proprioception. I’m half standing in the stirrups and changing my point of balance when going up and down rises. This freer position is less restrictive, for both me and my horse. But admittedly, getting used to the longer stirrups is going to take some doing.

I have (I know) lost all my non-horsey readers. But I did succeed in writing this to keep my horsey readers, for which I am grateful.

Next: 194. 7/13/18: A Conversation with Raudi

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