First Ride …

Yesterday afternoon I rode Sudi for the first time since he’s been here.  I almost didn’t ride him because the wind was blowing and it was quite cold.  I’m glad I did.  It didn’t start out all that well because he didn’t want to leave the property (and the other horses), but I insisted and he went on.  We went out the front gate, through the front pasture down the side hill.  When we started going down the hill, he realized we were heading back to the other horses and tried to pick up speed.  I sat deep in the saddle and tried to keep hm from picking up speed, not only because I didn’t want him to break the gait I put him in, but the footing was slippery and I didn’t want him to injure himself or me.  His nose went up in the air and he started running through the bit.  Great, I thought to myself, I’ve bitten off more than I can chew with this horse.  I continued to sit deep and keep steady pressure on his mouth and eventually he relented and I released the pressure.  Getting him to pass the horse in the paddock was a bit difficult, but once I got him going, he was good.  He spooked once when we scared up a flock of quail, but all in all, he was very brave and forward.

I will stop on the way home tonight and pick up a snaffle bit with a thicker mouthpiece.  The one I have been using is very thin and it may have been pinching his mouth.  I’ve been meaning to replace that snaffle for a long time and now is a good time to do it.  Many people would tell me to put a harsher bit in his mouth to control him, but I’d rather take the time to teach him to work with a snaffle than to force him to work with a harsher bit.

I borrowed a Theraflex pad from my farrier and this was the first time I’ve ridden with one.  A Theraflex pad uses Therm-a-Rest technology.  The pad self-inflates with air in the sections of the horse’s back where pressure points may cause discomfort.  Most people would say that my saddle fits Sudi fine, but I noticed when I rode him with Jesse that there were areas where the saddle seemed to be bridging.  When she looked at the saddle on Sudi, my farrier honed in on the areas where it didn’t quite fit so I was right.  It may or may not have caused him any discomfort, but I don’t like to think about riding a horse with a saddle that causes discomfort or outright pain.

Riding on the Theraflex pad was like riding on air, which essentially you are.  It doesn’t feel unstable, in fact, I think the saddle felt more stable than it did with the wool pad I was using.  When I took the saddle off, he hadn’t sweated enough for me to see any sweat marks, but there was a fine covering of dust that was evenly distributed where the pad sat on his back.  I’ll know more about how it works when I ride him enough to make him sweat, but the way he was moving made me feel like the saddle felt better to him.  When I rode with Jesse, his walk was very slow and restricted.  He did trot out, but his ears were back a good part of the time.  I could feel a huge difference in his gaits riding with the Theraflex.

The Parellis sell these pads and they are quite expensive, but you can find them used for a reasonable price.  The more and more I watch the Parellis in action, the more I think they are better educators than Clinton Anderson.  CA is more entertaining, but his methods tend to get boring after a while.  The Parellis add more variety in their work and encourage riders to play with their horses.  Also, CA shows have become glorified infomercials geared towards selling his extremely high priced equipment and DVDs.  I might join the Parelli Savvy Club for a month and see how I like it.

The temperatures have plummeted way below normal highs for this time of year.  It was in the mid-20’s last night and won’t get to 50 degrees today.  It will make for cold riding this afternoon. I think that’s better than extreme heat.  I wish the temperatures would regulate a bit instead of going back and forth to such extremes.  I’ll be meeting my farrier to ride at South Mountain tomorrow and I’m excited about it as I know I’ll learn a lot, but it’s going to be cold.

We got Yoda back last night which was a very good thing.  He looks as good as new.

Until later …