Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Saddle Demos and Musings

And Tall Turkeys

To answer Muriel's question, the wild turkey male stands about three feet tall. (Just under a meter.) I have read that, especially during breeding season, the toms can get very aggressive and I have an unbrella on the back porch just in case. Since the males puff up like peacocks...both body and tail...when displaying their dominance, I guess the umbrella not only acts as a defense but also appears to be a bigger turkey. At any rate, I would suspect if the horses threatened or even made too curious approaches to one of the males lady friends, he might come to her defense. At any rate, apparently an angry tom turkey can be pretty intimidating.

But, these big birds have been browsing my lawn, paddock and pasture constantly pecking at bugs. Since one of their favorite foods are ticks--something we have in abundance--I am quite willing to find a way for all of us to peacefully coexist. I just have to convince the Boys.

The neat thing about doing demos for Ansur Saddles is that I get to meet all kinds of horsepeople who really care about their horses. Today's demo was no exception. M. owns a lovely big young Thoroughbred who has a long history of saddle fitting problems. What a nice fellow he is, but his back/wither/muscling leaves a lot to be desired. I have a feeling the saddle problems have contributed to his lack of muscular development.

I am hoping M. will be able to get an Ansur of her own as the saddle did fit with a bit of shimming. When I called Ansur, I found out the saddle can be custom designed for her horse as well, so that would be the best option. In the meantime, she is borrowing my old Passier which...again with a shim, seemed to fit her boy fairly well.

The key here that struck me is how important it is that our horses be worked correctly so they can comfortably carry our weight and stay sound through all the efforts we expect of them. More and more, each time I meet I new horse, I see how beneficial good dressage work can be. Horses who carry themselves in correct, round frames develop good backs and extra athletic ability.

My own Russell R., a lovely boy, was so much better with basic dressage training, that in less than a month after I learned how to get him to correctly stretch into the bit, he started winning under saddle classes and for many years was almost always the first place horse in his on the flat classes. If I rode him well, he was almost as often in the top of the class jumping too, once more because of his correct basic dressage. Essentially, dressage training had turned a pretty, but average horse into a multiple show ring champion.

Watch a horse being ridden with no rein contact, not in a frame and then watch the same horse being brought into an elementary dressage frame and you can see an amazing transformation. I used to say of my horse, "Ride with no contact and he looks like a $2500 horse. Put him in a frame and suddenly he's worth $10,000. The difference is that dramatic."

My musings for today. All talk and no action as I have not worked my Boys in their dressage yet today. Trouble is, the drive to the demo and back was over 140 miles and I spent nearly all day there and on the road. I did go for a swim and I am seriously thinking about going out to lunge once it cools off.

Once more I'll just wait to see how I feel.


  1. Anonymous8:03 PM

    All horses, no matter the discipline, should do basic dressage - it's great for the horse and great for the rider. I'm a believer in cross-training, and looking outside your home discipline for ideas and good horsemanship. Maisie and I have even worked cows in our close contact saddle! - oddly enough, working cows actually has some connections to dressage due to the suppleness and relaxation required to do it well.

  2. I'm with you I believe dressage can help any horse in any discipline.

    The Ansur saddles seem like they really solve some problems with horses. I'd love to try one out on some of our guys, but there really isn't a rep close enough around here and they are expensive. So I think I have to wait a while before I try one out. For now the Albion I'm using on Dusty and Blue is the best one so far as fit goes for them. It's so hard to find saddles for wide backs and no withers to speak of.

  3. If M gets a custom made Ansur, will they be able to easily change the shape if he muscles up, which I suspect he might do with the right saddle?

  4. Mary Lou, if you read this, the answer is yes. Ansur will change the saddle later when the horse muscles up. They are very concerned about the comfort of the horse at all times.

  5. suberpads are good as well (NOT the suberpanel which as you know was for a specific purpose) if you can get them over there...

    shimming is an art in itself, of course!

  6. Yes, I did read it, thanks! It's info that I might need to know someday, I hope!

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