Sunday, March 29, 2009

End of a Great Long Weekend

The evening of an absolutely perfect day is coming to a close. The sun is shining through my dirty windows, warming me, my 2 snoozing cats and our little ratweasel dog. To my surprise, I just realized my face is sunburned. I didn't wash my face this morning, so I was still wearing night cream — no sunscreen. Oops.

First things first. Here's Hex, Rico, and Nita, on crutches from an incident that involved poison sumac, a ladder, and a swimming pool.



I went nuts with the clippers. I clipped Jaz's sweet little face.


I got really carried away on Poco. The more I clipped him, the more gorgeous silver roaning I saw, so I just kept going. He was such a good boy. Mind you, it looks like someone let Jaz loose with the clippers. Remember what it looked like the first time you body clipped a horse? Or your kid tried to clip the dog? I had intended to go back today and clean up some of the clipper lines, but one thing led to another and I let the Boyz out for some grazing and much needed bucking and farting. Look at the beautiful color under all that brown. He looks like melted cookies n' cream ice cream.


I shot this little video you might find amusing. That's Heather's leopard filly Dream, flirting like mad with Jaz and Poco. Who you callin' a gelding?

video

Back to work tomorrow, refreshed and rejuvenated.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Hangin' With the Herd

I took off yesterday and today — woohoo!

The baby's name remains Rohrschachs Hexstatic, but his barn name is changed to Rico (as in Suavé), in homage to the little playboy he fancies himself already.

It was nice enough for mother and baby to be turned out, and the entire herd showed up to pay their respects. Hope this video works. Although I have shot and posted video before, this was my first attempt at editing. The black horse at the top of the screen at the end of the video is Rico's full brother, Scorch (Rohrschachs Slow Burn), so named because he was in the oven so long, it burned off all his spots. I was lucky enough to be present at his birth.


video

Yesterday was also farrier day, the first since Jaz's abcess. I had not been out there since last Sunday, and I was amazed at how good his feet looked. The black lines are gone. His right front foot looked the best of them all initially, but now shows very early signs of the disease. I am glad to know what it looks like. He also has thrush, but I need Heather to show me what that looks like.

Even though I'm a paying customer, I helped strip and re-bed the Boyz' stalls. I told Heather and Nita they need to find a couple more people like me and they'll have it made!

I'm headed out there again today. I introduced Poco to clippers yesterday (he was a CHAMP), and I have 2 fully charged batteries. I'll be tormenting them both — bwahahaha! The photos I took of my efforts weren't too good, so I'll try to get better ones today.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday

Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
sing praise on the harp to our God:
Who covers the heaven with clouds,
who prepares rain for the earth,
who makes grass grow upon the mountains.

Psalms 147:7-8


YES!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Monday, March 23, 2009

It's A Boy!

Hex, the grumpy Clydesdale from my last post, foaled today at 4:30 a.m. The sire is Heather's fewspot Appaloosa stallion, Rohrschachs Spots.

Tentative name: Rohrschachs Hexstatic, barn name Taz.




Wonderful Weekend

You can't say I don't deserve it after last week's doozy. I hung out with horses and horse people. It doesn't get much better than that.

I did some work around the house Saturday, then headed up to Heather's. I ran a shedding blade over both woolly mammoths and picked Jaz's feet, then led them to graze. When I brought them in, Heather sat in a lawn chair in the aisle across from Hex, while I sat on the floor in a sunny corner of Poco's stall. There's a board missing in the shared wall of their stalls, so Jaz kept sticking his head through, playing with my hair. Poco was super sweet.

Hex, a very pregnant, very grumpy Clydesdale.

I had things to do here yesterday (Sunday), inside and out. I vacuumed and shook the rugs before Mike got home from work. I raked 6 large trash containers of leaves from inside the dog yard and took them to the woods, where I dumped them in bare places. I spread 50# of annual rye in the dog yard as well as the sacrifice area around the run-in shed, as far as it would take me around the front. Mike already ran the harrows and spread 50# out back last week, and there's still another 50# bag left. I took a couple Advils (oh yeah) and headed to the barn again. It was much like Saturday, except I learned that Poco doesn't like cross-ties (too bad, bubba), and we walked out to visit the herd.

Ash (Pelee's Ashes), Empress Black Velvet (Velvet), and Dove (Olympics Dove)

Crash (Little Red Corvette) doing his best imitation of a baby yak.


Heather's pride and joy: Dream
(An Olympic Dream — CFS Olympic Hope x H/W Dream Station)

Jaz is comfortable and enjoys his limited turnout. Heather picks his hooves at least twice, sometimes 3 times a day. It is so amazing to me how quickly his feet deteriorated. Jon (farrier) and I both were patting ourselves on the back 4 weeks ago when he was last trimmed, because they looked so good. Now he's got thrush, and his frogs remind me of old crumbly chunks of rubber. His left side is the worst, and his right hind looks the best of all of them, which isn't saying a whole lot right. I'm so glad I took him up there where he is kept dry and gets lots of attention. I bought a different hoof pick that has a curved blade and a beveled edge that is slightly sharp, but not as sharp as a real hoof knife, so I can't get into too much trouble. Jon will trim both Boyz Thursday.


I don't like that flashy thing, so kiss my spotted butt!

A tiny casualty from last weekend: While the shooting was going on, and I was trying to get the treatment boot on Jaz and the cops were coming down the driveway, I glanced down and saw a baby bunny, calmly munching a bite of greenery. It let me get quite close. It was old enough that it would survive if protected, but too young to be on its own. Needless to say, I couldn't stop what I was doing to help the poor little thing. Mike found it dead, likely from the rat poison under the shed. You can only do what you can do.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

En La Casa #6


Oaxacan Wood Carvings aka alibrijes — Mexico
That first word is pronounced wa-HOCK-n,
the second
alla-BREE-hays.
Oaxaca is in south central Mexico, between Acapulco and Veracruz.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Life Goes On

I told Heather I wouldn't be up yesterday afternoon. Her method of bandaging Jaz's foot uses a whole roll of Vet Wrap every time, so I stopped at Paul Taylor's and bought a box, as well as sheath cleaner for Heather. Well, not for her ... I also stopped at D&L feed and farm store and bought 150 lbs. of annual rye, and Ace Hardware for another roll of duct tape. I think it's funny they just spell it "duck" these days, having caved to the vernacular.

Mr. Fry is back to the sweet man he is 99.9% of the time. Working nights and going to school sometimes gets the better of his good nature, poor man. When I got home, he had already taken Nita's trailer to a welder in Pilot Point. They fixed the break (cheap!) and added two triangular metal gusset pieces that are welded to the crank tube for strength. He volunteered to take it back to the farm today, so I gave him the supplies and reminded him there's a bale of hay in the trailer that wouldn't fit when I hauled the Boyz in the stock trailer on Sunday.

There's only a 30% chance of rain off and on for the next 5 days, therefore no point to tossing that seed. A 30% chance of rain in our part of Texas means "forget it". Mike will run a harrow over the land first. We have a homemade one that's pretty beat up from use, so he needs to make another one, unless Heather has a real one we can borrow. The quick-taking annual rye will help stem erosion and hold the Bermuda we'll sow later. Mike says it needs to be 70° at night for Bermuda to take. I have a while to save for that purchase until temps are that warm. We don't have a mechanized spreader that fits on the tractor, so I volunteered to push the manual one.

Not having the horses here is weird, and yet freedom from the responsibilities is nice for awhile. I can't ride or play with them whenever I want, and
I have to haul tack, but I enjoy the camaraderie at the barn. I look forward to lessons with Poco in the arena. One thing I want to try is having Heather and/or Nita on mares in the arena at the same time to see what kind of nonsense he pulls. Gurlz make him stoopid, but we need to get past it. I'm finally confident enough to try it.

I have to grocery shop today, so it will be Friday night or Saturday before I visit the horses.

In addition to everything else that happened all weekend, when I showered Sunday evening, I dropped a can of shaving cream and took a chunk out of my foot that makes wearing shoes painful. My goose egg still hurts, too. I guess you could say that owning horses can sometimes be a pain. Or several.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Update on Jaz

After a gorgeous day with temps near 80°, I went to see my Boyz last night at Heather's. Jaz is in one of the front stalls, followed by Poco, then my little buddy Quaker, who also has hoof issues. There are three pregnant mares across the aisle and a several mares in heat in the pasture, so Poco is in rockstar heaven. I brought them out on a lead to eat some fresh grass on the higher ground, which has drained well enough to not be a mess.

I forgot to take pix when we were outside, and decided the mares would not appreciate the flash in the barn. It's not as if y'all don't know what they look like.

While we had Jaz outside, I ran a shedding blade over him and we picked his other three hooves. Two of them don't look bad, but his left front one is pretty nasty. On the other two, the black is a hairline, but this one is thicker. I'm amazed at how crumbly that part of the hoof is. I'm thinking I may have to cowgirlthef*ck up and learn how to use a knife. Yeesh, I scare myself. May also consider doing a hoof supplement for him. Suggestions?

Heather and Nita had soaked Jaz's foot in epsom salts and changed the dressing. Because he is in a nice dry stall, she didn't use the boot. He certainly prefers the duct tape method to the boot, which he kept trying to bang off his foot, albeit unsuccessfully. We removed the bandages and scrubbed the foot with a brush and tea tree oil soap, then soaked it in epsom salts, which Mr. Prissy Foot liked not at all. "Eww! Eww!" I can't really say it looks any better, but my untrained eyes have a difficult time seeing past the craters the vet dug. Heather's eyes and my nose told me it was draining. Jaz is unquestionably more comfortable and putting weight on it. I learned how to do the duct tape and vet wrap method of bandaging.

Jon, the farrier, will be out sometime around Wednesday the 25th to work on him, and I think I will just have him go ahead and do Poco again, too, even though they were last trimmed February 7th. I don't want them on different schedules.

I have paid for a month's boarding. This afternoon I'm going to look for some annual rye to throw while the weather is still too cool to sow Bermuda. Heather says once it takes, it will help hold any Bermuda we sow in place. Also need to pick up some more vet wrap and another roll of duct tape.

Remember how I told you Mike is working nights so was asleep for most of the craziness this weekend? Turns out, he was/is mad at me at how he perceives I handled it. I keep trying to tell him he has no idea of everything that went on! According to him, my decision to take the horses up there stemmed from panic. He says I should have got him up to help. Well, I was damned if I did and damned if I didn't. I love the guy to death, but he'd have bitched the whole time if I had sucked him into the Weekend From Hell. He says he doesn't want anyone to think we're not capable of taking care of the horses, which has absolutely nothing to do with why I took them up there! In my judgment, a clean, dry stall, and competent people in the barn every 2 hours on foal watch, who are willing to care for him is a no brainer! Getting the horses off our wasteland is just an added bonus. From my perspective, he's being pretty darned condescending, so I'm pissed off, too.

Probably will not be able to make it up there again until the weekend. If Mother Nature cooperates, maybe I'll have some foal pix.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wacky Weekend

"Every decision you've made has brought us from bad to worse!"
Koehler (Treva Etienne) to Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush)
"Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
"

Anyone who doesn't think God has a warped sense of humor never had a weekend like the one I had. Every decision I made, everything I tried to do with the very best of intentions, just made it worse.

You'll either find this story amusing, or you'll be validated in the opinion that idiots like me shouldn't have horses. Believe me, there was a point last night at which I thought the same thing. In any case, please be kind. It was a really bad weekend. I found out more things I don't know, and more things I really suck at.

It has been cold and rainy since last Wednesday or Thursday, and was raining yesterday morning when I got up at 6 a.m. By the time it got light, Mike got up, and I decided to throw the Boyz some hay, shoot some video, and give them a bucket of warm Gatorade. The photo below illustrates how drenched they were. The only time Poco's mane lays down like that is when it's really wet. You can see the water running down his belly.

I should have known something was wrong when I walked out with buckets and Jaz didn't move from his spot close to the dry creek bed. Poco had already started sucking up his Gatorade, but still Jaz stood there. Mike was on the back patio, cleaning the dogs' muddy paws, when he yelled, "He's not putting any weight on one of his back legs." Well CRUD.

Carrying his bucket, I slogged thought the quagmire, and sure enough, he's holding up his left hind leg and wouldn't put weight on it. He was soaked to the skin and shivering, mud up over his hooves.
It was all I could do to keep my boots from being sucked off. There's no telling how long he had been standing there.

The pastern and hock were warm and swollen, but he didn't mind me messing with it, as he chugged his Gatorade. I rotated the joint, felt around for any signs of breakage, but found none. His hoof was packed with mud, so I yelled to Mike to get a blanket, while I grabbed a halter, lead, hoof pick, a pocketful of cookies, and a flake of hay. I picked his hoof, which looked fine to me except the very tip of his frog was pulled away. My untrained eyes saw nothing. Can you tell that's important to remember for later? I poked and prodded; he didn't object, but I couldn't get him to take even a single step. We blanketed him and he munched his hay.


Made several trips back and forth from the woods to the house to grab my phone, more clothing, and various implements. Every time I did, Poco walked down from the shed and pushed Jaz out of the way for his meager flake of hay. Never mind that he had 2 of his own. Talk about hitting a guy when he's down.

It may have been about this time when, not just the day, but the entire weekend began to careen out of control.

No amount of cookies and coaxing could persuade Jaz to take even one step.
Called the vet, who could not be there for several hours. All I had was Banamine. Vet said go ahead and give it to take the edge off the pain. That made him willing to make the trek over to the run-in shed, which we made one slooow step at a time. He was downright loopy, in the same way sloppy drunks are: "I love you, man. No, I really mean it — I love you, man!"

This picture was taken standing in front of the run-in shed. The arrow is pointing to the hay I took out for him. That's how far I had to get him to walk. It felt like a very long way.

Made a makeshift stall. Poco says, how come HE gets to be in there with all that hay? What about me? The ears say it all.

I couldn't feel my feet in my muck boots. Jaz was resting comfortably from the Banamine.

I came inside to warm up and wait for the vet. Made some soup, which ended up being the only thing I had to eat all day except for a couple handfuls of dry Cheerios before I fell into bed last night.

Vet finally made it around 1 p.m. After telling me Jaz has arthritis in both back legs (we'll deal with it later), he numbed the foot and started digging around. White line disease. Deep abcess. The lifted bit of frog was nothing and was trimmed.
He couldn't get all the way to it, although he had carved out a crater about 2-3 inches long and a half inch or more deep. He said he wasn't surprised because of the weather. He showed me the black hairline on the inside wall of ALL of his hooves. I have always known Jaz's feet had been an issue in the past, but they have been great since he's been here. I did not know the signs I should have been looking for.

He showed me how to use the knife, but I will leave that to a pro so I don't kill myself or my horse. Seriously, me and sharp objects — uh-uh. As deep as he had to go, I'm not willing to mess with something that important. He said after it's under control, a hoof pick should do fine, now that I know what I'm dealing with. He also showed me how to pack the crater full of ichthammol and bandage it. Jaz gets Bute once a day for the next 2-3 days, then we'll see. First outflux of money.

Vet told me to get a boot and rolled cotton. Jaz was still resting quietly, so I jumped in my truck and headed to Paul Taylor for supplies. If there's an economic downturn, it is not evident at Paul Taylor's. I had to squirrel my way in the parking lot and park at one of the residences. The store was packed. Lydia and Sarah couldn't cash people out fast enough. A guy helped me. He waited on me once before and I have avoided him since. I don't know if he's part of the family or he just works there, but I don't like him. He treats me like I'm an idiot and seems to go out of his way to not be helpful. I am an idiot, but there's no excuse for treating a customer like that. I told him a I needed a treatment boot and he asked what size. He says it goes by shoe size. I say my horse doesn't wear shoes, but I have both measured his foot and done a tracing. He actually sneered.


I told him I needed rolled cotton and he handed it to me. It was only later I found out this was the cheap kind with no gauze coating, but he, of course, never mentioned an alternative. I had also completely forgotten I needed Source and daily wormer. Second outflux of money, almost as much as the vet.


When I got back, Jaz was still munching contentedly, while his buddy hung out doing the same. I decided to wait until later to redo his packing and came inside to chill. Walked by the dining room window a while later and there's Jaz.

I put my boots on, and caught him, but he would have no part of it. His soft bandage was soaked with mud, so I tied him to the hitching post and removed it. He was very nervous and I soon found out why. Some MORON was shooting, way closer than I have ever heard it before and it was getting closer. This wasn't hunting, this was playing. When there was a lull, I yelled as loudly as I could, "PLEASE STOP SHOOTING!" several times. It continued. So here I am trying to work on an injured HIND foot, trying to remain calm and calm my understandably wigged horse. Still it continued, and I was not feeling safe at all. I called 911 and went back to working on Jaz.

BTW, you know how he got out? Put his head under the lead rope and just let it go down his neck and off his back as he walked out. Monkey!

Here is where I found out that I really suck at doctoring. I cleaned it, repacked it and could not get that bloody boot on. That rolled cotton crap is nasty. I mangled the dressing and had to start over. By this time, there are no less than 3 cop cars coming down my driveway. As I was talking to them, I struggled with that boot the whole time. I finally got it on, then couldn't figure out the buckle. Finally got it. Shooting stopped.

Put Little Man back in the shed and he immediately started dancing, pushing against the lead ropes. He was trying to bang the boot from his foot. Wouldn't settle down. I sat with him, and that placated him for awhile, but he wanted his buddy, who by this time had eaten so much hay, all he wanted was a siesta. Jaz would not be contained.

I called Nita, and she said I should bring him up there. They are on foal watch and said they'd stick him in a real stall and take care of him. That meant I'd either need to take both of them up there, or bring a horse back. Poco would be beside himself alone. I knew they would both be happier together. This is also a good excuse to give the poor, decimated land a break. I couldn't get my trailer out of the mud (another lesson learned), so we decided I'd go up there, pick up Nita, bring their trailer down, and we'd take the Boyz back up. I couldn't find the blasted trailer hitch and didn't want to wake Mike, who is working nights. So I drove up anyway and borrowed theirs.

I had been freaked out, going on and on to Nita on the phone. She listened, and when she could finally get a word in edgewise, she said, "You know, we've done this before a few times." Driving up there, the silence was broken with my out-loud laughter. I was able to relax, if only for the length of the drive.

We got back here and Nita navigated to get us in a good place where we wouldn't get mired. We scraped bottom, but that's not unusual. I paid no attention to it. Can you tell that's important to note for later?

I had no idea what time it was, but it proved to be too late to load wiggy horses into an unfamiliar trailer as darkness was falling fast.
Their trailer is a standard divided trailer; mine is a wide, open stock trailer. I have a huge bruise on my arm and a goose egg on my head from not letting go fast enough and getting my head slammed into the window frame. I had been perched on a fender with my head in, trying to lure Poco with food. They had done nothing else but eat all day, so they couldn't be bought. After about an hour and a half, we had to call it off due to darkness. No way those Boyz were going to walk into that strange, narrow, dark cave. Nita's husband came and got her and I left my SUV and the trailer sit where they were, ready to try again this morning.

As I was bringing the supplies back to the house, the giant white plastic bag I was carrying spooked the horses in the dark and they took off into the mud. I cringed, thinking that was the last of the boot and we'd be at square one in the morning.

I could have used a shower, but I collapsed in bed around 9:30 p.m. I was so exhausted, my body felt like it was vibrating. I didn't sleep as well as I should have. I was not looking forward to the battle of trying to get those two into that narrow trailer.

Since nothing happened that was supposed to yesterday, and I couldn't sleep anyway, I got up well before 6 a.m., and started doing laundry. Caught sight of the Boyz and wonder of wonders, the boot had stayed on!

I had to vacuum because Mike, the dogs, and myself, had made this place a muddy mess, with hay everywhere. Mike came home from work and found the ground had dried out enough to get my trailer out! He hooked it up to his truck and went to bed.

Vet called and asked if Jaz is putting weight on his foot. Uh, yeah, and then some. Told him about the plan to take the Boyz up to Heather's. He is also their vet, so he knows Jaz is in good hands. Got hold of the farrier, who was stunned, since he had just seen Jaz 3 weeks ago and his feet had been fine. He's also their farrier, so I can have him come sometime the week of the 23rd to trim him and scrape out the nastiness, and I won't have to be there.

Feeling unwarranted confidence, I decided not to wait for Nita. I transferred stuff from my truck to Mike's. I pushed a bale of hay to the front of the trailer to both tempt them and keep them busy. I also attached a bucket of grain to each of the clips as an added incentive. I didn't feed them, so all they had was the hay in the loafing shed. Poco hesitated, but his stomach won in the end. Jaz was a pain in the ass. After about 40 minutes, I still couldn't get him to step in. He was standing really close to the entrance because he wanted to be near Poco, so I pulled the lead rope in and tied it to the frame. I got my stick and, standing to the side and slightly behind him, gave him 3-4 light, rhythmic taps on the butt and he hopped in and stayed in! By this time, Poco had eaten all his grain and Jaz's as well. Piled 3 more bales of hay in behind them and we were off!

Got up there and had a flat tire on my trailer! Unhitched and left it where it was in the middle of their driveway, and hopefully Jason won't be too ticked off at having to fix it. At least I have a spare. By the time the Boyz were settled, it was going on 3 p.m. Got back here and decided to park and unhitch their trailer and return it later. They have mine, so no big deal.

I suck at backing the trailer, but finally got it to an acceptable place and saw this when I went to unhitch.

Even though Nita said they knew it was already bent (it is actually broken now) and it needed to be fixed, we will still pay to have it fixed. Mr. Fry says that's how guys do things. Third outflux of money.

It was well past 5 p.m. once I got everything put away and came inside, glad that it was all over. But God's joke continued. I dumped a whole bottle of water on my nightstand and one of the lightbulbs over my sink exploded.

I've had enough. I'm going to bed with a couple of Tylenol PMs before anything else happens. I need to go back to work just to get some rest.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Stills from Sunday

Heather & Nita (who took most of the photos and the video)

Where are you taking me? She's here — this can't be good.

Look at the ears. Not at all sure about this.

Oh, if you insist.

This is FUN!

Freshly roached Jaz and Heather.

I did a half circle. We're done now, right?

He doesn't look like such a tank, does he?

Probably should have tied the stirrups up.

I could do this in my sleep.

Look ma, I'm a Friesian!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Falling Down #6

About 2 weeks ago, I was driving home from work, when I found myself braking hard to grab a looky-look at something hidden in plain sight. I have been driving down this road 5 days a week for the last 8.5 years and never saw it before!

In my defense, it sits pretty far back off the road, and you can just barely see the top of it peeking over the weeds.

FM 1385 — Denton, TX

By that time, there were cars close enough behind me that I couldn't make a random stop, but planned to do so the following morning. Wouldn't you know, I couldn't remember the exact spot and missed it several more times, or was again unable to stop because of traffic. Finally, one morning I was running a little early and ahead of the traffic — we're only talking maybe 6-8 cars, not major gridlock — and did 2 U-turns until I found it again. I got out and there was no fence, so there I was in work clothes, trudging through the brush.

I challenge you to really look at a road you drive, or a path you walk, or a trail you ride frequently: what have you been missing?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Successful Sunday

The shim seems to work! The breast collar needs another hole punched in it, but other than my having to be ever-mindful of saddle placement, we're golden. Except for the part where he backs up whenever I get in position to mount. Part of it is because the saddle caused him pain in the past, but the other part is, of course, now he knows he can. It may take a couple times, but he'll come back around. When all else fails, there's always cookies. Both my horses' motto could be, "Will whore for cookies."

I did ride him, but there are only stills and they suck, or should I say, I look like a middle-aged slob with a horrible seat and terrible posture. Besides that, I need to go through the almost 90 photos she took and optimize any I want to post. There are a couple of decent ones of Poco himself, and you'll finally get to see Heather and Nita.

For your viewing amusement, here are Pokey and I playing in the round pen.

video

Monday, March 9, 2009

Jazu's Turn at Celebrity

How do you parody a horse that is practically perfect in every way? Like this.

Click on the image to enlarge.



Saturday, March 7, 2009

Celebrity Bad Boy

Earlier today, I posted a phony magazine cover.

Then I was inspired by an idea that culminated in several hours of Photoshop fun. I like my version better.

Click on the photo to enlarge.


A Legend in His Own Mind


Create your own magazine cover here

Sorry, I couldn't resist. Thanks to Lisa over at Laughing Orca for the fun idea. I wanted to do it for Jaz too, but they didn't have a cover that did him justice.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Tacky Post

I got my Tucker High Plains 260 Trail saddle on clearance when Sergeant's went out of business. What a learning experience I'm having with that saddle. Read how it started here. This post is about where we are now.

By eyeball, the saddle fits Poco well, but the three times we've ridden, he's been very uncomfortable, which was baffling to me.
In hindsight, I give him a lot of credit for not tossing me. This is a quality saddle with a wide tree — how could it possibly not fit him? I was hoping this was just another case of 'operator error.' My cheap little saddle (came with Poco) doesn't really have a tree, so much as a very minimal composite plastic support system. It's very flexible in terms of the size horse it will accommodate. I used it on both horses and neither was averse to it. I used the best thick wool pad I could find to soften the ride for us both, since there was less than .125" of padding. I could get away with sloppy saddle placement because the saddle was not rigid. Now that I have a saddle with an actual fiberglass tree, placement is critical — there's no forgiveness.

Heather and Nita came down, and the first thing Heather did was check his back. He was sore at the base of his withers down into his shoulders. We tacked him up, and headed out to the round pen, Heather grabbed a longe whip and started playing with Poco, who was exuberant. He was so obviously having a good time, and was full of himself. Heather said she'd never seen him so happy. He pranced and bucked and kept coming back for more. After a few minutes, she put the whip down and was just clapping her hands to encourage movement. Then I had him follow me as I walked and jogged around the round pen. It was a beautiful thing. But, I digress.

We adjusted placement of the saddle several times as we watched him move. Poco was understandably determined that no one was getting on his back, and I don't blame him. Anytime I was in a position where he thought I was going to mount, he'd back up, poor guy. So, although the saddle does fit his broad back, it sits higher than his low withers. It's basically sitting down hill, putting pressure at the base of his withers. And when he moves, the back of the saddle flops up and down. At first I thought that meant I needed a rear girth, but Heather suggested first trying a shim to bring up the front a little. Bringing up the front should also push the back down.


Even the mostly English Heather and Nita were oohing and aahing over my saddle.


Jennifer, a lovely sales person at
Smith Brothers in Denton, TX, concurred with our choice of the shim. And I credit her with providing my "something new every darn day" for last Sunday. I am never embarrassed or ashamed to admit when I don't know something, so I asked Jennifer what a breast collar was for, and she told me. I honestly had no idea, but I see a lot of people using them in the blogosphere. Sounds like a really excellent thing, since I tend to sit a little crooked and have trouble keeping the saddle in place on Poke's broad, flat back. As a ranch horse, I'm sure he's accustomed to one and probably a rear girth too, but I won't do that unless the shim doesn't take care of the problem. I bought a Tucker breast collar, which Jennifer said is the only one that fits Tucker saddle rigging. I don't know if that's true, but I'm sold on their quality, and it matches my saddle, so it's all good.

I had meant to muster the ambition to bundle up Sunday afternoon to check out the fit, but I wussed out. I may have grown up in Pennsylvania, but I'm a Texan now, by the grace of God, and temps in the 40s with 30-35 mph winds is
pretty darn chilly for my sensibilities. I may see if I can get Heather to come back again this weekend to help me cement in my mind the "sweet spot" in placing that saddle. I do not want to hurt him! I'll also have to have a few sessions on the ground for Poco to see he can be tacked up without having it hurt. Shoot, a coupla cookies and he'll be saddling himself.

AND —
I've made no secret about not having much success at longeing. Heather's advice: lighten up, lose the agenda, and just play with him to encourage movement.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

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