Here's my usual routine :
- I take my 75 lb. saddle from the rack in the tack room, making sure that I scrap my knuckles on the door frame as I walk through the door, carry it down the barn aisle, which I estimate to be about a mile long, making sure the metal stirrups smash against my legs leaving bruises and place it on the rack at Gem's stall.
Hello. Are we going to play?
- I put Gem in the cross-ties. After a good brush and hoof cleaning, I put the under pad and saddle blanket on him.
- I hook the right stirrup on to horn, flip the girth over the seat and carry the 75 lb. saddle (OK! OK! it's only ~25 lbs) from the saddle rack over to Gem, banging the left metal stirrup against shins as I go, causing additional bruises.
- I lift saddle basically up over my head (Gem is 16.0hh) and gently place it on my beautiful boy's back. Most Western riders simply swing the saddle up and on their horses. I tried that once. I slammed the saddle into Gem, and the bounce-back slammed me into the stall door. Yep, that left a mark.
After I recover from carefully lifting and placing the saddle down on Gem's back, I step up on my little stepping stool and adjust the saddle pad and position of the saddle - you don't want it too high on his withers, but you don't want it too far back either. I also smooth down Gem's hair under the saddle pad. You may be asking yourself, "Why doesn't she just step up on the stepping stool and place the saddle from there?" I tried that once and as I tried to manipulate the saddle, I lost my footing and stumbled off of the stepping stool and ripped one of my nails as I stopped the saddle from slipping out of my hands. Obviously, I cannot manage my balance and a 75 lb. saddle at the same time.
- After the saddle is in a comfortable position, I feed the leather strap through the cinch buckle and then through the strap's loop.
- Once the strap has been fed through twice, using the strength of ten mice, I slowly start to tighten it. In the beginning, this was a high risk area for me to pinch my fingers. I am better at this now.
- When the straps seem snug, I place the buckle hook through one of the holes in the strap and pull the straps towards me to tighten and engage the hook.
- I feed the rest of the strap through the little strap holder on the saddle.
- I don my helmet and put the bridle on Gem. After I walk Gem to the arena, I repeat the tightening process. At this point, Gem usually looks at me and says it's tight enough. Oh, sure. I have fallen for this in the past, but I am smarter now. Yep, it only takes a couple of times of the saddle slipping while getting on to teach me that I need to check the girth prior to mounting! By the time I have tightened the girth, another 4 inches is added to the length of the excess strap.
What was I thinking....?