Home > Trip > Dispatches > Daily Dispatches 2013 > Daily Dispatch #5

January 5, 2012: Moving Forward, Incrementally

Today Pete and I decided to fit the Equi-Measure mold to Raudi’s back. This will enable the saddle maker at Synergist Saddles to make a complementary tree. The saddle will then be built around the tree. Raudi’s back is U-shaped – most saddle trees are for horses with V-shaped backs. Hence, our decision to go the custom saddle route.

Of course, the process of making this mold is far more complicated than either Pete or I would like it to be. First, we had to order it. And then we had to go to the P.O. and pick it up. (We actually made two trips to the post office --my friend Pam Nolf sent me a second mold.) Next,

we discovered that we have to heat the flat pad and mold the now floppy material to the horses’ back.

Our oven is too small for the flat pad. So we enlisted the assistance of our friend Karen Hoppe, who has both a larger oven and a round pen. She also once made a mold for her then horse Elmer Glue’s back.

Karen lives about two miles away, so yesterday Pete made an advance trip, dropping off the two pads and a bucket of hay. And today we rode the horses to her place. Pete rode Siggi, and I rode Signy and ponied Raudi. It was cold, windy, and overcast. And it got colder as the ride progressed. The horses were all feeling good – fortunately, the One Being Ponied was extremely cooperative.

The cutoff trail that we usually take to Karen’s was not horse-navigable, so we rode on Buffalo Mine Road. It was a bit icy – my heart was in my throat for about three minutes – that is until I realized that these three horses were the same ones who walked alongside many a highway in Colorado. This included the Highway of Legends, which leads to culchara. It was a steep, windy road with a drop-off. They all did fine – and this was early on our trip. So, I thought, they will do fine now. And they did. There’s something to be said for doing a long ride – it makes your horses more dependable and your later rides more fun.

Signy, as usual, set a good, steady pace. So we arrived at Karen’s well before noon. We visited with Karen for a bit, and then Karen and Pete conferred about how we were going to get the pad heated and onto Raudi’s back. As it turned out, my job was to hang out with Raudi. This was so the mold could be quickly slapped on her back. Pete put tape on her shoulder line (good luck trying to find the shoulder edge of a fat Icelandic horse in the winter) and he and Karen retreated back into her nice, warm house.

I hadn’t dressed for the weather, which is the increasing wind and dropping temperatures. This is unusual for me. Had I known it was going to be so cold, I would have worn my Refrigerware suit. And I still had a cold.

Finally, out walked Pete with what looked like a pizza box in hand, Karen following behind him. He pulled forth the warm pad and put it on Raudi’s back. I then attempted to get her legs square. Pete noted that the mold was still solid in one section, so he and Karen again went back inside, and again heated it up.

It was getting colder. I kept myself warm by thinking about being in warmer climes. Once again I was on a beach in Hawaii, looking out at the blue waters and feeling the warm sand between my toes. Pete again returned with the pizza box in hand. And he again put the warm pad on her back. It hardened, but came off looking kinda crooked.

It was too cold to go through this again. So we thanked Karen for letting us use her oven and round pen, and headed home. Once we got to Murphy, we asked the horses to trot, and they obliged, by picking up the pace. It was doubly nice, this time having a tailwind.

The bad news is that we might again have to go over to Karen’s and again make use of her oven and round pen. The good news is that Raudi is doing well with her ponying lessons. Her going along willingly with Signy and I solves two major problems. First, she’s now being exercised without weight on her back. And secondly, she’s developing a faster and more consistent trot. I’m no longer nagging at her to go faster – a slight tug on the line does what I want.

Raudi and I are now moving forward, and in a good way. Raudi will in the very near future have a new saddle. And furthermore, she’ll be a trotting machine when it gets here. My riding Signy is also making me feel more comfortable about moving fast for longer periods of time.

I’m also feeling like the metaphorical log jam that has in many ways stilled my own forward progress is busting up. Self-publishing Raudi’s Story turned out to be a very good idea. I got the word out there that writing is what I do. This should pave the way for the books that are going to follow. The trick is going to get those who now see me as writer to actually buy my books.

Next: 6. 1/6/13: Hrimfara: Now Eight Months