June 13, 2010

Leisurely Grooming and Saddle Issues

I headed out today with high hopes that Susan would be at the stable.  Low and behold she was!  I was feeling horrible though; I had a head cold and sounded awful when I talked.  We discussed the terms and she would only charge me the $75 for the rest of the month since I missed riding that one day.  I wrote the check and finished the paper work.  I only have to pay $100 a month to ride him all I want on Sundays!  Extra days during the week if I want to ride are just $25 a ride.  It's a timeshare on a horse, basically I'm paying for time to ride Willy. 

Willy, who reminds me of Jessie, a quarter horse I rode in high school, was very excited to see me but I think that was mainly because he was expecting his hay and thought I was bringing him a flake.  I gathered up the bridle and saddle I'd used last time riding him and his grooming supplies.  Then I fetched him from his run.  He and his partner Buttons were moving around a lot so it took some time to "catch" him.  The stable uses rope halters which really just seem like rope with a bunch of knots in it to me, so I had a little difficulty figuring out which part was which.  I finally got the halter on Willy and open the wonderful gate that Susan had installed on his run to take him to the indoor arena.  Susan brought a hay net and hooked it up so Willy would get some breakfast while I groomed him.  I figured I would take my time grooming him and let him eat his hay leisurely.

I started with the curry comb, which is a rubber round brush with nubbins on the grooming side, the ones supplied here are on the small side; for the children I guess.  In the near future I may invest in a few simple grooming tools that fit my hands better.  To curry a horse you work from the neck down in a circular motion to scruff up the hair and bring the dirt to the surface.  I curried very lightly on the upper legs, omitting the lower legs so as to not hurt the fragile tendons.  It's kind of a massage in a way unless done too harshly.  After I curried him I noticed his tail was braided but pretty knotty looking so I began to work out the braid and undo the knots at best I could, then I ran a brush through the silky strands; again, another tool I'd like to invest in since this one was a brush for a humans hair!  I had visions of little girls in pigtails combing a horses tail with the pink Barbie doll type brush!  I laughed a little and moved over to Willy's far side to work on his mane.  He has a nice thick mane.  I worked my finger through some knots and worked from the tips of the mane up to the base, working the tangles out.  I should probably include a nice horse mane detangler in my collection of grooming tools when I purchase them.  Once he was prettied up I grabbed a dandy brush, which is a stiff bristle brush used to flick the dirt picked up by the curry comb up and away from the horses coat.  His coat gleamed.  I used the dandy brush on the full length of his legs and inspected them for swelling, heat or cuts.  He has a cut on his near hind leg, I'll have to check it again next Sunday I think to myself.  It was just an abrasion and it looked old.  If he was my own horse I would apply some ointment to it but at this place I'm not sure of the protocol.  I picked his hooves and then moved onto tacking up as he is finished with breakfast.

I had a bit of a struggle with the saddle this time.  I put the same one on I had used before but noticed the billets, the straps that attach the girth to the saddle, had a large gap of area without holes.  I needed to tighten his girth more but where it was tight enough there was no hole to latch the buckles!  I finally readjusted the far side and got the saddle adequately tight and then bridled him.  He was a little more resistant to bridling but I think my mental foggy state may have caused me to be a little brusque with him, I'll do better next time.

I tried several times to mount him from the mounting block but each time he moved away from the block.  I was feeling very off anyhow.  I mounted from the ground and then walked him out into the indoor arena.  We did some walking and trotting.  Very early on I realized the saddle was not comfortable.  I'd worn jeans last time I used the saddle and that may have made the difference.  In jodphurs, this saddle was painful.  I dismounted, untacked him and then grabbed an older Wintec saddle.  Once that was in place I mounted up.  Much better!  I think investing in my own saddle will be well worth it, I won't have to readjust stirrups and I'll know the saddle fits me and is comfortable for horse and rider.

I could go on about the riding but we didn't do much.  I walked, trotted and cantered a bit, though Willy seemed to not want to canter in one direction...I'll have to work on that to see if maybe he isn't good on one lead or if that was just a fluke.  We did serpentines and circles.  He's very responsive to leg yielding even if he doesn't quite understand the vertical head line collection.  I'm not a trainer so as long as he responds to me I'm not going to worry about his head carriage; I'm not showing him so I really don't mind.

I'm not sure how long I rode but my throat was hurting, my head was hurting and I was ready to call it quits.  It was so hard to ride while sick, I probably shouldn't have at all but I feel I had fun and Willy seemed to enjoy it as well.  I dismounted, untacked and groomed him.  Then I returned him to his run with Buttons.  He went over to the hay bin and began munching away while I stroked his mane and gave him a nice big hug.  Horse hugs are the best!

I'll have to go and find a saddle that will work with Willy.  The bridle I ordered should be arriving this week so I can get the bridle to fit him well and not have to make adjustments.  I like having matching tack; black bridle and black saddle...or brown and brown.  At least I found a saddle at the ranch the is comfortable for me and works with Willy, I just worry about times when someone else is already using the saddle or bridle, hence why I bought the bridle. 

I guess that is enough for now.  Maybe next time I'll post some pictures of the grooming supplies or the tack, I should try to make this more interesting but honestly the blog is for me to help me learn as I progress towards owning horses.  Bye for now!

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