Saturday, June 4, 2011

Day 147 Questions, and more questions

Little Love has been in heat the past few day and yesterday was her "peak day".  This meant that she basically spent all her free time parked in front of Col, peeing.  He didn't seem to mind.  He kept biting her behind and her back legs quite forcefully, which made Little Love only pee so much more.  Needless to say, Zen Master or not, I didn't want to challenge that bond too much.  So we stayed on the property. 

Today, however, was a new day.  It was quite warm and Becky's husband reported to me that the horses had spent most of the day inside.  Which was of course their choice, but nevertheless made me feel like I had to somehow move my horse.   

We did the same walk as two days ago and again it went really well.  A few times Little Love remembered to call out to Col, but neither time made me really nervous so we got over those moments fairly fast.  We also passed both sheep and cows without incident.  Only towards the end did she get a bit nervous and I'm not sure why.  Perhaps it was the bugs (some of the horseflies here are the size of small birds, I tell you) or the two bulls we passed (which took off running again, what the heck?) or something else, but I just couldn't seem to keep up with Little Love, she was walking so fast.  Since I had the saddle on again (this seems to be my security blanket at the moment...), I decided to get on. 

As soon as I was in the saddle, I was able to get "into my body" on a whole different level.  I have done a lot of Ride With You Mind training (and teaching) and it never fails to help me in situations like this where the horse is slightly on the edge.  Three minutes later Little Love was walking calmly, with her head stretched down.  I got off and we walked home (after some grass in the field, of course)

I have been thinking a lot about saddles lately.  The thing is; I don't have one.  The saddle Little Love and I are using belongs to a friend here in Switzerland.  It's a Barefoot Dressage saddle and I don't think it's the right saddle for her or for me.  In any case, I'll be leaving that saddle behind when we move.  So, once we get to Finland, there will be no saddle. 

Now, the million dollar question of course is: Do we need a saddle?   - I don't know.  Am I going to ride?  - I don't know.  If I ride, am I going to ride more than five minutes at a time?   - I don't know.  Does it make sense to buy a saddle if I'm not really riding?  - No. 

But let's say I do decide to get a saddle.... this brings me immediately to the other million dollar question:  What kind of a saddle should I get?  An English saddle?  A Western saddle?  Treeless?  Flexible tree?  Regular tree?  The choices are overwhelming. 

The main thing I really care about is of course Little Love.  If she were to have a saddle, I would want her to have the best possible saddle for her back.  But what kind of a saddle is that?  I have no idea.  I do realize she is probably not the easiest horse to fit a saddle on, since she has high and long withers.  And a long back.  And she's sort of wide. 

Last fall a friend of mine bought a western saddle right before she moved to another barn.  She let me try it on Little Love a few times and I have to say that it seemed to work really well.  Little Love certainly was more comfortable in the western saddle than in her dressage saddle.  Of course, her dressage saddle was a really ill fit.  But perhaps this is something to consider?  But I find Western saddles so heavy... although I have heard that the weight gets distributed more evenly over the horse's back.  Or is that just a myth? 

Anyone out there with any experiences they want to share?

PS. If you are still having trouble posting comments, try unclicking the "keep me signed in" box when the system makes you log in.  It works for me.


  1. For the first 11 years or so I had Griffin, I only rode him western. I had a hunt seat english saddle for awhile, but sold it when I realized it did not fit Griffin (or me for that matter).

    About 3yrs ago or so, I decided that since Griffin was getting up there in age - it was time to think about getting a lighter saddle (especially since I am a larger rider). It was touch and go for me for awhile between getting a dressage saddle or an Austrailan saddle (which I had been eyeing for a few years). I found a really great company for Austrailan saddles and ended up taking the plunge that way. They were super helpful and where able to fit Griffin's saddle to him based on a number of whither tracings I sent them (and I am extremely picky about not using my saddle on any other horse because it's been adjusted to fit my boy).

    Counting the 2 western saddles and 1 english I have owned -- my aussie is by far my favorite saddle of all of them. It is lightweight for Griffin (I think it's around 15-17lbs), it fits me, and it's super comfortable with my bad knee. The free-swing stirrups are wonderful!

    The company I got my saddle from is Downunder Saddlery out of Colorado (USA). I can give you their weblink if you want to check it out (just let me know)...


    as far as what type of saddle you should get, I really think that should be what you are most comfortable riding in. I am sure (without a doubt) there are saddles of all styles out there that you could find to fit Lilo. Finding a good saddle fitter to come out and look at her may help too...

    If you are intersted in a western saddle, perhaps a Wintec or cordura synthetic saddle might work. They are much lighter than the leather western saddles (and I agree with you - western saddles ARE HEAVIER). They are also priced reasonably and seem to fit quite a few different horses.

    ...and I have also heard that western saddles are better for weight distribution, but in my honest opinion, as long as the saddle fits well -- it shouldn't be a problem.

    One other option -- if you aren't going to ride much or only for minutes at a time -- what about a bareback pad? There's a bareback pad called a Natural ride pad that has an actual little tree on the front of it and stirrups so you can ride like in a saddle. I have never rode in one, but have heard good things about them.

    I have discovered when Grif and I just want to head out for a walk together, the bareback pad I have works great. I can tie an extra halter on there as a spare, glowsticks (if we are out at night), my cell phone, ...or whatever. ....and it also gives me something to hang on to (there's a handhold strap on top) when we climb hills -- Griffin will happily help tow me to the top of the hill (because my 2 legs don't work as fast as his 4!!). It also weighs a LOT less than any saddle, which is perfect for walks. It's just a thought....

    I do think that if you plan to do any riding at all (even if it's short), you should probably have something...even just a bareback pad. There are a lot of choices out there, so I can certainly understand your dilemma!

    P.S. Griffy and I had another ride out around the farm last night. I talked to him the whole time and he really seemed to like it. ...and of course we still rode bitless and he did awesome!! There's hope for us yet! :)

  2. Hi Carol, thank you for your post, it was very informative! I have been thinking of a bareback pad, but with Lilo's huge movement going bareback is challenging. Although I do think that stirrups would help a bit. But that said, perhaps in the long run a saddle would be better. I hadn't even thought about the Aussie saddles and after looking on their website, found some interesting options. I like that the Aussie saddles combine the Western idea with the light weight concept. Not to mention that they seem affordable. Thank you for pointing me that way! Another option to check out...

  3. The only saddle my TB was comfy in was a Kiefer but they have a big price tag. He too has a huge wither and finding a saddle to clear it was hard. Aussie stock saddles are great and really keep you in. I used a gel pad as well under my saddle. Hope you find the right saddle for you both.

  4. I quite like the Wintec endurance saddle with "cair" panels.