Friday, June 22, 2012

Down Under

When I first started lessons it was at an English barn.  I had a heck of a time trying to keep my balance, but I didn't know any better. I purchased my own Courbette all-purpose saddle because I couldn't handle the school saddles.   Eventually, through STA, I found LA and her Western barn.  When Gem and I became partners and took lessons with LA, I continued using my Courbette.  It was not a good mix for building my confidence.  I was nervous of Gem's height, I pitched forwarded on his neck when he did his big stop, I was terrified to go on trail rides because I felt exposed.  LA saw my dilemma and let me use her Bill Cook Reining saddle.  Having a horn and pommel was just what I needed.  :-) 

I eventually bought the saddle off of her.  It wasn't the perfect fit for Gem or me, but it was OK.   The bars were actually a little wide for him  (believe it or not, Quarter Horses seem to be stockier than him), so to prevent the gullet/pommel from collapsing on his withers, I had to use risers under the bars to level the saddle out.  The solutions actually worked out quite well.  He never had any soreness after our rides.  For me the saddle was just a tad to small in the seat.  Coupled with the fact that the cantle on a reining saddle tilts a little further back (because you lean back when you are doing those sliding stops!), I was always fidgeting to get comfortable. 

Western Saddle
Now, I am not sure how much my Courbette all-purpose weighs - probably ~20 lbs.  I found out recently that my Bill Cook weighs 32 lbs.  It has always been a bit of a challenge to get the saddle on Gem.  Initially, I couldn't swing it up on him because apparently I was weak as a kitten and couldn't get the height required; I always ended up slamming the saddle into his side.  Fortunately for me, Gem never lost his temper during these feeble attempts.  Being a master improviser, I purchased a little one-step stool and tried to step on the stool as I swung the saddle.  Extremely bad idea; little stools can move and cause you to body slam your horse and almost drop the saddle.  The solution?  I lift the saddle straight up over my head (apparently I now have the strength of 10 men) and place it gently on Gem's back.  However, I use the little stool to step up and adjust the placement of the saddle and risers.  It may take 3 or 4 adjustments to get the saddle position right.  Putting the saddle on Gem is the longest part of our tacking up.  I was contemplating starting to use my Courbette again because of the lightness of it, but I wasn't quite ready to give up the horn when it came to trail riding.  :-)

Enter the Australian Stock Saddle.  I started thinking about getting an Aussie last fall.  It seems to be the best of both worlds.  It's like an English saddle but with a horn!  There are leathers instead of fenders, but with western-type stirrups.  There's no pommel, but poleys (knee pads) keep your legs secure and in place.  The seat is deep and helps support your back.  And most models are lighter than a Western saddle!!!!

You can get some absolutely gorgeous Aussies that weigh in at about 30 lbs. and cost about $4,000.00.  I am not looking for that kind of heaviness or cost.   After speaking to people at two different equestrian shops, I think I am going to start out with a synthetic model which will weigh less than 20 lbs and come in under $500.00.  The brand names recommended were Kimberly, Cordura and Outback Saddlery.  If anyone out there has any experience with Aussies (the saddle, I mean!), I would sure like to get some feedback!!!

Friday, June 8, 2012


A friend at the barn sent me this link.   Her Rocky Mountain horse is jet black, so you can see we have a soft spot for black horses.  ;-)  Hope you enjoy watching these stunning Friesians in action.  Wow.

Have a good weekend!