2. Michaele's second question was for a description of a bucking strap. Western saddles have a deep seat that cradles you in secure comfort and a horn for hanging your rope -- or for grabbing when you get off balance during, say, a bucking episode. English saddles have a flat seat (especially jumping saddles) and no horn. Dressage saddles come with seats of varying depth/security but the deepest dressage saddle is nowhere close to a western saddle. If you lose your balance, your only option is to grab a handful of mane -- or a bucking strap if you have one. Bucking straps are short lengths of leather, semi rigid, and rolled to be comfortable in your hand. The strap attaches to the front of your saddle to the left of center, lays in front of your saddle and attaches to the right of center. It gives you a loop of leather to grab for security and stability.
3. Terri asked if the Masterson work I do with Lucy, and the bond it builds, carries over into our riding. I believe that it does; in two ways. First, the body work releases tension. Lucy carries a lot of tension in her neck and poll. The poll is affected by discomfort or tension in the back and the hind end. It is "energy central" in a way; tension collects and is held there. By releasing that tension, Lucy feels better and is able to stretch comfortably into her work. The other piece to the Masterson work is the intention and focus it brings to our relationship. I'm learning to read very subtle signs and Lucy is learning to trust me with her tension; to trust that I will make her feel better; that she can relax and let go (not easy for a flight animal).
4. One evening earlier this week when I went out to the goat area to refill their water, I noticed that Thistle wasn't joining the group. Thistle is usually up front and center. He baas as I approach, meets me at the gate, follows me to the water bucket, and then stands on his hind legs with his feet against the fence so I can rub his neck, his back and his belly. On this evening, which was very hot, Thistle was laying in one of the igloos watching me, but making no move to join us. I was concerned. He didn't appear to be injured, he ate some weeds I brought over, and he came out to pee while I was mucking. The next day he was fine. He met me at the gate and followed me to the water bucket. I noticed that his "shorter" horn was now a stump, with dried blood. So, that was it. He lost his horn. This happens every few years. We bought him from a first time breeder and I don't think they got the dehorn thing down exactly right. The other goats, who came from experienced breeders, have never had this problem.