Before we left the house, I cut a small piece of foam. It is about 3.5" long and about 2" deep.
Actual item is smaller than it appears.
When I was saddling Ashke, I placed the piece of foam between the saddle pad and the saddle in the spot where his hair can sometimes be ruffled. Then I tightened the cinch, pleased with my solution to the small bit of saddle flocking I really need. I handwalked him briefly, then swung into the saddle. You'd have thought I had placed a two by four with nails under his saddle. He damn near dropped out from underneath me. It was the strangest thing. We walked in a circle, maybe 20 steps, and he let me know in no uncertain terms, that he was not happy with the saddle configuration. I stopped, loosened the girth and pulled the foam out from under the saddle. Then I tightened the girth and used the trailer to swing aboard. Amazingly, he was just fine from that moment on. Obviously, he is accustomed to the saddle the way it fits, his back is evenly muscled and the sweat patterns are great. We are going to leave well enough alone.
The start of the trail, climbing from the fair grounds to the hills.
The access trail was almost an mile and a half. Pretty much uphill the entire time and the footing was crap. We walked on the edges of the verge as much as possible to avoid the slick clay.
It was also not as sunny or warm as they had been predicting. Thankfully, J had an extra pair of gloves and a thin hat for me to borrow, or I might have frozen to death. It finally broke 50 at about 2 pm.
The trail, although not technical, was either up or down. J did 500' of elevation gain in about a mile. It just wasn't much fun.
Both of the horses were very energetic. We raced from this point up the far hill four times in a row, letting them blow a bit in between. We did a lot of cantering on the grassy footing which was soft, but firm, without being slick. That part was amazing.
Our last run across this area.
Then we climbed partway up one of the hills.
It was pretty tough. A couple of times Ashke stopped and regained his breath, looking back at me like I was crazy.
The hillside was amazingly beautiful. You can feel the energy of spring just about to burst out.
That little tiny yellow spot is J pushing her bike up the hill.
There was a whole flock of male Mountain Bluebirds flitting around us.
They were flying and posturing on the tops of the Mullein.
Ashke watching the bluebirds.
Eddy being a Yak.
Even with the bib cut. Although he sweated less on this ride, so the cut helped.
J climbed to the top of the hill we were half way up, which really was only about 2/3rds of the way to the top. She did not take her bike with her. K and Eddy tried, but didn't make it that far. I wasn't even going to try.
After lunch we headed back down and then kept going to the east. Eventually, the trail met road and we sent J off to ride the pavement back to the fairgrounds. Her legs were pretty wiped out by that point and the pavement would be easier on her. K and I rode back west to the trail that led back to the fairgrounds and got there just about ten minutes after J did. The trail back was slick and muddy and there were points where we both thought the horses were going to fall. It was pretty scary and stressful, but, thankfully, both ponehs had settled and were listening. Ashke had finally stopped jigging and trying to rush. At the trailer, we untacked and blanketed them both.
The trip home was uneventful. We did eight miles in under 2 hours. 4.3 average mph. It will be our only ride together in February due to schedule and weather. Hopefully, J and I will get a ride in on Saturday, but K has plans.