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.