Saturday, March 22, 2014

Dover

The new Wintec AP 250 saddle does not work. Ok, it will work if ALL I do is walk around the arena for twenty minutes on a loose rein. It will not work if I do walk-trot, trot-canter transitions, lateral work or ask for any collection. When I took the saddle off on Friday night, it was pretty obvious it was not fitting his back correctly. Looking at the saddle and his back, at a minimum the channel is too narrow. And the AP saddle is jutting forward over his shoulder. It's just not a great fit.

On Saturday, I tried the Wintec 500 dressage saddle S from the barn has. It was not a good fit. When it was positioned to fit in the withers it jutted up in the back and the channel was just as narrow. The fit got worse when I tightened the cinch. I took it off and figured I was SOL, planning on spending the next five weeks spending all of our time lunging in side reins and maybe riding bareback a little. I had talked to J about taking the Wintec back and getting a bareback pad.

On an suggestion from Cassandra, I tried Westley's Isabell dressage saddle by Wintec. It fit very well and has a strap that can be tightened in the girth that fits the back of the saddle to the shape of the horse. The Isabell can be flocked to fit the horse's back and has a gullet changing system that's pretty simple to use. With the one I tried today, it took just a couple of minutes to tighten the saddle to fit Ashke's back.


I tried Ashke in the arena and he moved very freely. He was much softer in my hands and didn't struggle to collect. We did lateral movements and he stepped with ease in both directions. Our brief canter was very good. The first time both N and Cassandra said I looked tense. I told Cassandra it was because she was watching me. The second time, I could feel myself struggling to breathe and so started to sing, "La, la, la " to the tune in my head no one else can hear. That canter was very good. Mostly, I rode around in the saddle trying to get used to the position the dressage saddle puts me in and evaluating the effect on my back. All of my trot work was done while posting today. Something I haven't been able to do. I think the dressage saddle kind of encourages the rider to post. I'm hoping it's easier to sit the trot in the Alta Escuela. It is good for me to do the extra work, though.

It's funny, ever since I did some research on lower back pain, ruptured discs, and the risk of surgery or paralysis and discovered the fear I have been running from for the past eight years is not a valid fear. The pain in my lower back, which is caused by weak, unused or overused muscles, has been less severe.  I have been bracing against the pain and to protect that part of me and my back is incredibly stiff. I have put a lot of energy into moving differently, in stretches and in relaxing those muscles. It has definitely helped for me to not be so scared of moving and testing the limits of my back.

I will be sore tomorrow. Good thing I have Rocky Mountain Rider's Rescue Rub to help. I got my order today. This stuff is golden for muscle pain. I highly recommend it.

After riding, N and I went to Dover. We took back the Wintec AP saddle and gullet part to exchange for the Isabell. I was not expecting the price tag, but the Isabell is easy to sell and retains it's value, so it wasn't a bad investment. The people at Dover were wonderful and didn't even ask any questions. It is a saddle I could show in if I ever get to that point, or a saddle I can sell when the Alta gets here if I so desire. At least for the next five weeks I will be able to ride and the saddle with force me and my muscles to step up and get stronger. My only question is: how did I come to own three saddles? I also got a bottle of Vetrolin White n Brite shampoos (convinced the one I had was almost empty, a couple of lik-its and a bottle of Meg-Tec for his mane and tail. J is demanding that we allow his mane to grow back out again. The Meg-Tec should help.

I've decided that the battle with my weight is over. If I can ride and learn and progress and Ashke can do that with me without injuring himself, then my weight does not matter. I'm tired of worrying about it. I make decent choices about food. I exercise more now than two years ago. I am active and filled with energy. I'm no longer chained by my fear and anguish about my back. I am going to continue to work on learning to post and to ride for longer periods of time. Our average rides are now an hour and a half to two hours. I'm going to continue to progress at the canter. And I might, might, do a schooling show before the end of the year (one where what I wear won't end up costing me a paycheck.) To that end I threw away the scale.

3 comments:

  1. Yay for throwing out the scale! Sometimes it's better to just keep track of the fit of your clothes, especially when muscle weighs more than fat: you may weigh more but as long as your clothes are fitting looser, that's what really counts. And like I said before: slow weight loss as a result of lifestyle changes is so much more durable than quick weight loss from extreme dieting/exercising! You're doing a fantastic job.

    I hope the Isabell works out for both you and Ashke! I'm excited to hear what you think of it; it had been my second choice when looking for a backup dressage saddle (I still thought I wanted to compete in dressage at the time, but my Wintec Pro has worked out great for schooling anyway.)

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    1. Yea, when I told J I pointed out that all I have thought about since T was born was my weight. I'm tired of it. I'm going to live my life. Ride as much as I can. Be active and moving whenever I am able.

      I'll let you know how it works. I'm not real excited about the new aches and pains my body is experiencing, but the good news is I was strong enough to ride for over an hour in it yesterday and post every time we trotted. (I haven't figured out the left leg diagonal - when moving clockwise around the arena - but I figure as long as I am posting to his rhythm I'm happy.)

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  2. I second Saiph!

    I'm also looking into that muscle rub for Mike. He's always so sore. Do you have any additional recommendations for things like that? He is sore all over and sometimes its deeper than muscles. I hope with the mountain closing he'll start feeling better and quit running himself into the ground so often (figuratively and literally!)

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