Monday, October 14, 2013

Wither, Thou Comest!

So at our saddle-fitting a couple of weeks ago, the fine ladies from Schleese asked me if I had another saddle pad, one with more wither relief.

I stared at them, dumbfounded.

Um, no. I'm on the road here, and I only brought this one.

That's fine, they reply, we'll just bunch this up and give him some room across the spine here, but you will want to use pads with wither relief from now on.

This part of our saddle fitting stuck with me for days; I couldn't quite put my finger on why.  In the moment, I had felt a little stupid, a little chastised, for my failing to have a pad with wither relief, but initially I passed that off as the way I always feel when riding my green goober in front of a bunch of experts.
The Schleese Ladies were NOT like this, but it's funny.

 And that's why I prefer to ride in the woods alone, far from expert eyes.

No judgment zone

But when I got home and thought about it, I realized that... um...I don't think I have any saddle pads with wither relief.

Because I've never needed any.  Sherman has never had withers before.

Approximation of Sherman's back, 2009-2012

Hot damn! The realization hit me-- Sherm has withers!

So I rummaged through my things and found the Saddlebred Rescue saddle pad I had for the late great Bayou Roux, Sherm's Auntie Roux, the horse he sometimes channels with his big, long (for a Morgan) neck, and his powerful intellect.  (Fortunately, he very rarely channels her anxiety. Her energy, yes, but so far, not the anxiety.)

Look at that wither clearance!

So Sherm and I rode in the woods today in Auntie Roux's saddle pad.  His withers, his actual withers, had plenty of clearance, and we had a lovely time.

Spitting image of Auntie Roux (less the wings...maybe...)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


There are horses out there... somewhere...

I've been a bit frustrated the last couple of weeks by extreme fog conditions interfering with my morning ride.  Gorgeous, warm fall days and crisp fall nights have been fantastic for working on outdoor projects and great for sleeping at night, but have produced copious amounts of morning fog, spooky conditions which linger until nearly noon.  Sherm and I both want to get back to riding in the fields and woods, but the pea soup out there has made that just not a brilliant idea in the mornings when I have the time.

Yesterday, however, there was no morning fog, and we had an amazing ride.  Sherm had spent the previous afternoon whooping up the pasture ya-yas for about a half an hour, racing, zooming, performing sliding stops, and bucking high enough to kick the leaves in the pasture trees with his hind feet, and he was pretty tired and sore yesterday morning.  He wasn't interested in any more ya-yas, and didn't want to work on any arena work.  So after just a few minutes in the arena, we wandered out to the hayfields, around which the wonderful husband has mowed xc paths for me and the riding boarders.  We had a fantastic, easy, relaxed hack all around the farm; it was pure heaven, easy as pie, and just the kind of morning ride I dream of every day.  I couldn't have been more pleased.

My pleasure turned to a weird kind of regretful guilt when later in the day, our husband-wife boarders were both thrown from their horses while attempting to enjoy the very same sort of country hack.  The husband ended up sore and a little banged up, but the wife ended up hurt enough to be out of work for two weeks, and out of the saddle for several months.  All this because of a little giddy young horse silliness at the end of what had been a pretty fantastic ride up to that point.

Though it had nothing to do with me, the episode reminds me just how unpredictable these perfect horse moments are.  

There are fantastic field trails to ride out there... somewhere...

So today, again, we have fog.  And I was kind of peeved-- I wanted another go at a great ride with the BBW.  In my frustration, I began to wrack my brain for how I managed this fall weather scenario last October... and then I remembered that I was out of the saddle last October with poor saddle fit.  This time last year I was thinking that we might be a driving-only team because I couldn't find a saddle that would make the boy comfortable.  So, okay, a little fog is better than that situation.

And it's certainly better than my boarder's situation.

So for this morning, I'll sit at my desk and get some schoolwork done, and then I'll get the boy out later in the day.  We'll enjoy the warm fall sun.  And I'll wear my XC vest, per my non-riding hubby's special request today.  And I'll be grateful for all that I have.