Friday, November 9, 2012

Two of my favorite guys (not Brian and Blue)

I was visited today by two of my favorite guys: the FedEx guy and the UPS guy. They're basically the grown-up version of Santa Claus...right?

One box was the big one from Schneider's. The blankie is a beee-yooo-tee-ful shade of emerald green with black, and it could not fit Blue any better had it been custom made. If anyone's shopping, it's a StormShield VTEK Marathon, and the contour wither alone was worth the money.

Sorry about the color. I didn't realize how much of a green/yellow cast the barn lights give off!

The other box was something I forgot I ordered: the Specialized Fit Kit. Now, I already have a specialized saddle that is perfectly adjusted to my horse, but it's old. It's approaching 10 years old, if I remember correctly. Specialized has made a lot of changes (dare I say "upgrades"?) to their design since then, and I want to be sure that if/when I order, I get the correct thing.

Here's what comes in the box. I think the gullet gauge is the same one you use for the changeable gullets on Wintec saddles. The back templates are clearly homemade from masonite.

It took WAAAAAAY too much effort to get his front legs square for the wither measurement. It would have been nice to have a helper!

It's hard to see here, but Blue's angles go right down the middle of the black wedge, which makes him exactly Medium.

Lifted it off for a better pic.
 Next it was time to do the back of the saddle. To get an accurate measurement, the horse needs to stand square.
(Sigh. This is NOT square.)

 It took an embarrassing amount of wrangling to get Blue square, then get the step ladder next to him, then start in with the templates, but it was pretty obvious when one fit. It fit so perfectly that I didn't have to hold it up!

So now, armed with information, I await word back from Specialized about the possibility of a 17" demo. That's not standard for them, but I figured I might as well ask. I'll keep you posted!

Doing non-endurance things

I can feel myself getting a little lax about the blog, you know? We’re in the middle of that gap in the year when I am relieved that the season is over and still have a few more weeks before I begin longing for it to start again.

So, in the meantime, I’m all over the place with the riding. I don’t have any reason to condition aggressively, so I’m not. Blue’s shoes are coming off next week, and I’m hoping to leave them off long enough for the nail holes to grow out.

The weather has been all over the place too. We had a sunny day last weekend, so we did hill work on the back 40. We had rainy weeknights, so I’ve been doing arena work with the German martingale.

I’m concentrating really hard on bend-bend-bend, followed by lift and extend. Meantime also working his offside diagonal, which is hard work for both of us. I came home just as sweaty from riding the bad diagonal as I did from a half-hour on the treadmill at the gym.

I also got out “The Athletic Horse” again for a quick review of those principles. All that did was make me more determined to even out the diagonals… and change my cool down. Instead of walking around doing not much for the last 10 minutes of arena work, now we walk around flexed to the inside or the outside. Physically, it isn’t particularly demanding, but Blue and I are giving the synapses a much-needed workout: “Yes, I can walk forward but look to the side.”

Speaking of that. As long as I’m jumping all over the place with gymnastic training, I’m also drilling him on the trot-outs. They were abysmal at Foothills. He trudged, I dragged.  And while I don’t exactly blame him (considering the weather), I could cross-reference with all of our other rides this year and safely assume that he was only getting worse. His leading has never been particularly light or responsive, and I was paying for it in my vet scores. Luckily, Sarah has a training wand with a shiny, noisy pompom on the end of it. It scared the everloving crap out of him the first time I shook it at him. But danged if he didn’t offer a more animated trot after that. I’m going to keep drilling until I can put the wand away. Then I’m going to drill some more. ;) He is still a far cry from Otto, who would drag me from one end of the trot-out to the other.

In other news, Blue absolutely DESTROYED the waterproof blanket I bought him. It was a Kensington Roustabout, which is supposedly 1200x600D and only 120g filling. Whatever. Blue got out of his paddock, as usual, and left pieces of this $100 ebay bargain hanging in various trees. So, new plan. I just ordered a 1680D rain sheet for an outlandish amount of money—1680 being the highest denier available without a prescription (I’m pretty sure). 

If he shreds this one, he’s SOL. I’m clipping him. 

He’ll be cold, and he’ll like it.