Friday, January 28, 2011

Vive la différence !

First, a little housekeeping responding to some excellent comments and questions.  Linda: I do like the western look, just not for mounted patrol.  When Jackson and I compete in competitive trail trials, I ride in a western saddle (which I don't think fits him anymore either).  It's easier to drag logs around when you have a horn and on rides that last hours and hours, it's just more comfortable.  Plus, I feel like I am drawing attention to myself when I do the rides in dressage tack - I can feel people looking at me and thinking "stuck up English rider."  I much prefer to just blend in with everyone else and feel sure I am being judged on how we do and not how we look.  On the mounted front, I just really like the look of tall boots, black English tack, and crisp uniforms.  When I was a kid, my aunt and uncle took me to a horse show where the Canadian Royal Mounted Police performed.  They've been my gold standard ever since.
Dom wanted to know if bareback is an option.  Yes yes yes!  I rode Jackson bareback in my lesson warm up today while I waited for Brett to finish his lesson.  I plan to ride in Brett's saddle when I can and bareback when I can't.
Carol and Lori had wonderful comments about saddle fit and brands.  Carol has a WOW saddle which has air panels but is also custom.  The Bates Isabella is strictly off the shelf so I'm sure the fit isn't as nice as she has.  I've never heard of WOW saddles - maybe just available in Canada?  Or haven't made there way onto the California scene yet.  Personally, I think there are so many brands and styles and twists because there are so many body types.  What I love, someone else doesn't.

Today, after Brett's lesson we put his saddle on Jackson.  Our trainer, Gayle, was very pleased with how it fit him.  I was surprised since when I bought Jackson that saddle didn't fit him at all -- way too wide.  So, I was able to take a lesson!  The Passier felt wonderful.  My leg naturally fell in a straight line and I was able to sit straight with no effort.  I think the Bates tilted my pelvis forward a bit and it was a struggle to keep my leg correct.  And, O.M.G., Jackson was in heaven.  His walk was immediately full of swing and he was stepping under.  I felt it and Gayle could see it.  The whole lesson was like being on a different horse.  I didn't have to ask for forward.  I had to ask for "don't run."  He took the contact, lifted his back and carried himself.  I was able to take him deeper and he stayed light.  He hardly argued at all.  I was thinking maybe I should get a Passier but Gayle suggested keeping the appointment with Custom.  She likes the fitting support they provide and the saddle has a deeper seat than the Passier.  If I don't like the Custom saddles as much, I will get a Passier.

On the way home, I was talking to my good friend H. about the saddle situation.  She expressed surprise that I needed a new saddle already since the Bates is only a year and a half old.  That got me thinking about how much Jackson has changed -- in his topline, particularly.  He didn't change a whole lot until last September when I had his hocks injected.  Since then, he's changed completely.  Once he was able to carry himself comfortably behind, he was happy in the work and "presto!" - new horse!  ....and new saddle.

At the beach a few months after his purchase.  September 2009
First show.  November 2009
Same show.  He has no butt or topline.

And now....

Lesson January 2011.  He's getting a butt!

Starting to look like a dressage pony!!


  1. He looks very dressagey! I can really see a difference in his topline and butt - very nice. WOW's are British - easy to find with a google search if you want to look for interests sake but the Passier sure sounds like the way to go. Rogo was like that when he first got his WOW - all forward and BIG increase in stride. Come to think of it, it's probably time to have it adjusted. I got it the end of last June and Rogo is still filling out and developing (he's five).
    Good luck. And I hope you get in lots of bareback time too - so fun and so good for the seat. With Jackson's improved back it will be more comfortable :)

  2. Jackson is looking good. He really communicated with you when you put on that Passier....I'll bet you end up with one.

  3. Sounds like you're on the right track with your saddle decision... saddle fit can be the trickiest thing. Good luck!

    Jackson does look great. :)

  4. Great photos showing the transition of his body from nice to round and muscled. I have to admit, though, I like the beach photo the best because you are SO lucky to get to ride on a beach just for fun!

  5. It's good there was such a marked difference with a well-fit saddle. It's nice to have that validation. I'm sure he's a happier boy! The before and after pictures are great.

  6. Glad you've got some options, at least :)

  7. You're a very sharp-looking horse and rider! I love watching dressage, too. I don't know a thing about it, but it's a very beautiful genre. Jackson definitely is getting a nicely filled-out hip on him. Too bad a nicely filled-out hip doesn't look as good on me! LOL!!


Thanks so much for commenting! I love the conversation.