Friday, February 13, 2009

Winding Down

After an All Day Wait

The wind was still ripping this morning. And when my saddle came in the late morning, I didn't want to risk a ride.

I opened the box, made the suitable "ah's and ooh's" and left it on the IGallop for the bulk of the afternoon.
Then, just around feeding time, the winds eased off. So out saddle an I went to the barn to give it a try on Tucker. No problem with the fit, as Ansurs simply "fit." Please excuse Tucker's expression and overall scruffiness. I only gave him a quick groom and his mane really needs a pulling.
Then I went out to the arena for a short ride. Bless the wind for the footing is nearly perfect, although it could use a good grooming like my horse. I did not ask Tuck to really work into a frame as he hasn't had any work in weeks, but he was quite happy to walk, trot, and canter in a forward, relaxed way for me.
The saddle felt good. However, I am going to need to lengthen my leathers when I really start to work in it. It drops my leg right into the correct vertical position and my thigh needs to be able to stretch down. Interesting, as these were the somewhat dusty leathers I'd been using on my Classic, and they felt fine in that saddle. The Excel evidently really does give the rider a more "dressage" position, hence the need for longer leathers.
My ride was a bit too short to do a thorough evaluation of all the saddle's benefits, but so far, I really like it. I had the sense it is going to make my seat better and more towards correct than it has been.
I only took the pictures indoors with the flash in case Tucker was going to act silly outside, but I must admit, for not having been ridden in so long, he was quite settled, even with the remaining breezes. We just did some simple walk/trot/canter. Tuck felt nice and forward, especially in the sitting trot. I don't know if the saddle had anything to do with that, put perhaps putting my seat where it belongs was affecting him. Still, I will have to do some more serious work to see if that could be true. I was pleased to find absolutely no resistance on Tuck's part in the canter departs on both leads. That is a tremendous change since the sore hock incidents. While I was not asking him to really work off his hind end, his willingness to simply canter off an easy aid was super.
Now, if the ground stays good for a while, I will start some more regular schooling sessions again. But I don't want to get into that stop/start/stop start the legging up (getting him fit) winter tends to force. I will either have to just bring him to a minimal level of fitness I can maintain with the erratic schedule or keep to the idea of just continuing the winter layoff.
So far, the weather reports are hopeful. As usual, I'll just have to wait and see.


  1. Love your new saddle. I really like to get new tack, glad it feels good on your horse too.

  2. Nice saddle - it must be a great feeling to get a new piece of tack like that. Your horse looks great too - what a shiny coat! It looks like summer length compare to my furry girls (and they're blanketed).

  3. Tucker and the saddle look good ^-^

    You have tickle my curiosity now, does the treeless saddle need lots of twiking and shiming like ...hmmm... another British-made part-tree saddle ...

    I quite like the idea of a treeless, as I am quite heavy, I have shunned away from it. Here in Italy they make the FreeForm, which are liked in Endurance.

    Tuck looks good in these photos. I like his expression in the first one.

  4. Muriel, the Ansur does not need shimming or special pads except in the cases of some horses that might have muscle wastage in the wither area. Usually, after using the Ansur, those muscles build up.

    Another case where you might need extra pads would be to level the saddle on a horse that is either low in front or low behind. The extra pads are minimal, however. Otherwise the saddle simply molds to the horse and needs no special padding adjustments or "teaking."

    I just use a regular saddle pad on both Tucker and Chance. If I am going to ride Toby for any length of time, I might add a supplemental pad now because he has lost a lot of muscle definition in his back due to both his age and retirement. When he was in competition, I needed nothing extra. With PJ, also in retirement, I added the same kind of supplemental pad, but he would have needed nothing extra either when he was in work.

    The rider's weight has little to do with using the Ansur treeless saddles. I think it is a misconception that people have about weight distribution being better in a treed saddle. When you think about it, the tree takes the weight and pushes it wherever the lowest part of the saddle is, and often that is a dig right into the horse's wither area where the points of the tree lie.

    Bob Marshall's treeless western saddles have been around a long time and very successful. I'm not sure how they compare to the Ansur western treeless, but I am sure the Ansur is exceedingly well made and addresses any fitting/comfort issues for the horse exceedingly well.

    After having ridden exclusively in Ansurs for over 8 years, I can highly recommend them.

  5. I like the idea that the Ansur molds to the horse's shape but what if the horse's shape changes, for instance, like weight loss in the winter, then regains the weight in the summer?

  6. MaryLou, the Ansur molds with each horse every time you switch. It will even try to "mold" to a chair if you sit it on the back.

  7. bound to help, putting you in the right place.

    shimming is needed with any treeless at the wither, if the horse needs it. for instance, whatever treeless saddle i put molly in (and whatever TREED saddle, for that matter) I'd need to have some shim due to her asymmetry at the shoulder