Monday, September 17, 2012

Socksy Boy!

No, Sherm doesn't have any socks.  His older brother, Sonny, has a perfect pair of matching hind socks, just short ones, but perfectly-proportioned and mirroring one another, as though hand-painted.  I do envy that touch of chrome, just a little, but not during mud season...or green grass season...

Love the girth, but we can make it better!
No, today's socks were about dealing with a little something that I think has been bothering the BBW (henceforth known as the Delicate Flower or the Princess from The Princess and the Pea) for a while.  The transition point at which the padded neoprene of his Cashel Soft-touch girth connects to the elastics bothers his delicate skin.  It's a thick, padded girth, with a sticky surface, and it works very well for him, except that when the girth is tightened, the elastics stretch and put just a little inward pressure on the point where they are attached, tipping the blunt edge of the neoprene inwards and against his skin.  He hasn't had a rub or any wear spots there, but he has been periodically girthy and will reach around and look at the girth, on either side, from time to time.

And when I ask him to canter on the lunge, with the side reins attached to the girth, that motion pulls the girth forward just a little more, and he kicks out at the start.  Initially, I'd thought he was kicking at being asked to exert himself into the canter, but I should know better.  Sherm loves to be asked to do things, particularly fast and fancy things.  I've been wondering lately whether he was actually kicking at the irritation of the girth right there.

While wondering, I've shopped girths, in person and online, and haven't yet seen one that would do all the good things this one does without this little irritating thing.  I looked at girth covers, but I didn't really want to cover the whole thing-- the neoprene surface is a huge part of why this girth works so well for Sherm, so I didn't want to cover all of it.   I was getting frustrated, and I stopped asking for canter while I sorted it out.  Even without the canter work, Sherm has dropped some weight and is a good bit fitter than he was.  I had secretly hoped that with weight loss, the irritant factor of the girth end would be resolved as well.  No such luck.

So today, to test a theory, I made my own mini-girth covers.  I cut off the above-the-ankle part of both socks in a pair of wool-blend winter socks, turned them inside out to expose the fuzzy soft side, and slid them over the transition spots of the girth, where the neoprene & padding meet the elastic.  They looked a little funny, and I figured he'd be all over that visual distraction, but he didn't even seem to notice.
Blue band at the top of the white sock..

Girth sock!

Well, lo and behold, I think it worked!  He wasn't girthy, other than a slight anticipation wiggle.  Once the saddle was on, and I was tightening in earnest, he ignored me, all the way to the final hole.  Good start.

Socks are Comfy!
But the proof was in the amazing canter work he gave me!  Best work I've seen from him, literally, all year.  He was smooth and round, and was volunteering the prettiest little departs-- not the dramatic kick-and-launch he had heretofore demonstrated.  And emphasis on the volunteering-- he kept cantering, and when he'd lose his balance on the circle (remember, we haven't been doing much of this), he'd gather himself together and re-start the canter out of his own amusement and seeking his own satisfaction at the work!  The body language was clearly saying, "No, wait, I can do better!"

There is no better feeling in horses than to have your boy say to you that he knows what you want, knows how it should be, and wants to go again to do it better.  He got much praise for doing it well, and we ended on a positive note before he wore his little Morgan self out.

All it took was a pair of socks and a pair of scissors.  Who knew?

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