The Archives 4/18/10 – 5/31/10

The Black Country Quantum X no longer is working for me…and Bali is not thrilled with it either. The tree shape is just not quite right, and yes, I could flock it, and adjust it, and make it slightly better, but I’m of the opinion that the basic tree shape needs to be right, and I’ll be fighting a losing battle. It is seriously comfortable to sit in and ride in, but for short me, on barrel Bali, along with the inherent rock, due to tree shape being off, it isn’t working.

I think I may be at 3 for 3….3 falls for the past 3 rides in that saddle. My usual average is about 1 fall a year…to stay in practice. Incidentally…my fall last year was from this saddle…but I do believe that one was pilot error and a loose-in-the tack day…no matter what saddle.

So, the show report.

I fell off in the first class. I was doing low jumpers, 2’6″-2’9″, as we hadn’t jumped much since Jan. and that was only 1x a week. It was going lovely, a nice course, nothing hard, one in and out. I got too comfortable by jumps 7 a/b, the one to a four combination, and Bali jumped in nicely, one stride and BAM…dirty stop…where I’d gotten all comfortable that she was going. And, over her head I flew. I got up immediately, stood there for a moment as the wind was pretty much knocked out of me, and then walked from the ring.

This is where I do love going to a show with a trainer/coach. Michael immediately went to the warm up ring, took an oxer and turned that into a one stride with two verticals…and we did that. I pondered quitting and going home, there was a bit of a dull ache in my back, I pondered crying like a little girl, and I did neither.

I went into the second class, which was pretty close, with most of the same lines, and I rode a very, defensive ride from the rumble seat….I was absolutely NOT GETTING AHEAD EVER. It was clean and S.L.O.W. as I took ALL the conservative routes and was simply focused on conquering my nerves and I came out and was asked how many strides I’d done in my lines. Er…dunno. I forgot to count all but the last one, and I counted 4. But, it seems I didn’t start counting until 2, so I’d had an add. Go me and higher math.

I felt better, mentally, but was still feeling that dull ache, but meh, I was signed up, and Bali was fine, so I did the next one, with the instructions to get out of the back seat please. Find the middle between too much release and throwing her away, and not enough release because I was NOT GOING TO LET HER WAVER. It was pretty good, and I actually managed to get up off her back over most and asked for a bit more pace. It was not enough pace to place in a local show where many rides were gasp inspiring at some of the flinging body parts and chosen lines, but I felt it was a success.

I’m intrigued by the CWDs. I looked at them a bit at WC in Vegas, but not huge amounts, but if they have a booth at Rolex, I’ll be looking at them and some of the others.

I am lucky because I know how to fit a saddle, but unlucky because I know how to fit a saddle, and I’m not going to go with something trendy, because of a sexy salesman. But, with that said, the CWDs seem to have some wide models, which is not something I’ve noticed in most of the other lovely jumper saddles. I like English made saddles, but at the moment, I’m behind on what trees are what shape, and I know exactly how expensive saddle shipping is, and I’d like to get to a good saddle for me & Bali with minimal shipping and trials.

Now, I just have to decide if I want to try to do some more jumping before I find a new saddle, or if I am going to go with my gut that the saddle is not for me, and be a complete DQ during my shopping period. I might flock that saddle to see how much I can stabilize it and not lose a season while I look.

I think part of my settling into being too comfortable on course was because we are showing at second level at licensed shows this year. , but I don’t think of her as green, but she IS green over fences, because I ride alone so much that I often only jump 1 or 2x a month…sometimes less. I don’t think it is a good plan to jump alone. I sometimes hop over a cross rail alone, but I don’t do real jumping.

I’m checking, but there might just be video of me being a lawn-dart…good times. Hopefully of the other rounds as well, as it would be nice to see all 3. Of course, the pricing will depend on it. My rash and sudden decision to head to Rolex, along with my needing a new jumping saddle is going to be a cramp in my budget for fluff like videos.

If you want to try out and look at saddles and nerd out over different designs, materials, and engineering, Rolex is a great place to do it.

So, the CWD is sexy. It has that oh-so-seductive French calf, and it really seems to let you be balanced. But, when I say Bali is wide, I do mean it. Unfortunately, the CWD guys are all about convincing me that the open tree is awesome and flexes . And the tree points do…so do leather tree points. Kinda like when County started calling the classic English spring tree a “keyhole” design. Er….they all look like that. Or maybe I was missing some fine detail. So, Emile, while quite charming, also has a bit of the salesman bully in him, the “I know better”. The other guy, I actually like better, as when I came back with my tracing, his eyes widened, and he said that indeed, the one on the rack was probably NOT going to work, and they’d have to make one. Where I get a bit worried is when he talks about sending it back to CA to “open it more” if it isn’t good after one is made. While they were offering a show special, 4500 including leathers and the French calf and a bunch of toss-in add ons that they overprice to make it look like a 500 off deal, I’ve slept on it and decided to keep thinking. Not being able to try something in the correct tree size makes me very nervous. I was in the saddle business and I know the pitfalls of custom ordering from a factory that is really well…a factory w/ pattern options.

Devacoux, also, very sexy leather. Same issue. 2 tree sizes and well, while comfy, for whatever reason, the saddle did not call to me, but my neighbor has one in the “open” tree and so I can try hers. Did not think to ask price.

Stubben, tough, some nice changes in their saddles. Uses moulded plastic of some sort for the tree, which a lot of these do, but they had a tree handy for me to study, and their 34 cm might work, but, they are still flocked a bit more hard than I like, although, the model I liked has foam panels. Probably could get one for under 2000, but they are still kinda hard on the rider side too.

Black Country, they were here at Rolex, so I had a long conversation, with them, and I am going to adjust the saddle, and give them some feedback as to how much that fixes the rock, but, they have another model that is a LOT more close contact for me, and a flatter tree, and as I’m very satisfied with the quality of the saddle and the schrumpf (may have spelled that wrong…travesty for a former saddle fitter) leather is fairly sticky, I will seriously consider another one of these. There is a lot of comfort in being able to adjust my own saddle, AND speak the same saddle language. Oh, they are still reasonably priced, at 2300 or so.

Stackhouse, this would probably win out over the Devacoux or CWD, mostly because again, familiar construction, and fully custom for the same price, and he makes them one at a time, and I’ve known a lot of people who love their Stackhouse saddles….and I cannot blame Stackhouse for the idiots who seem to think their custom made saddle does not fit ALL horses. 5000 if I can catch him on his next trip through M’burg. Classic laminated wood, spring trees.

Prestige, I do like the feel of the MMB model, and I can get VTO Saddlery to bring it with them to Morven next weekend. They have a 35cm in stock, which might be too narrow…ok, probably, but they open them up. Again, I’m always nervous with tree mods, but, this one could probably be had for under 3000.

So, given that most of my savings have been guzzled by truck repairs this winter and the rest is earmarked for tuition, I really need to flock the existing one, get my Albion CC2 put on consignment somewhere, get the Albion kid’s saddle on consignment, and if those sell, I could probably hold off on selling the current Black Country until I get a new saddle….or do I just sell it, and no jumping until I find another? Let me ponder that AFTER I adjust my own saddle. Cobbler’s children syndrome going on.

4 days off the week before Bali’s recognized 2nd level debut might not have been the best plan, but she is pretty solid in the work. But, 4 days off and she was a touch lazy Tuesday in the lesson and only a bit better last night, but this morning, she felt back to her usual self.

Sometimes we get a trot step in our simple change, but it is usually very lovely. Shoulder in, well, I am refining that, but the fact that I’ll have the rail in 2-1 to help me keep the haunches in as well as shoulders in, that will help. I rarely use the rail at home, or in lessons, and shoulder-in w/out a rail shows up in a much higher level, possibly for a reason. It is HARD. For that practice, I get a bit of haunches in, before I get the shoulder in and then really try to hold the haunches and ONLY move the shoulder. It is really easier for Bali to let the haunches fall out, producing the angle, but letting her escape loading both hinds. I need to also work on my getting to SI NOW. Not develop it, step into it. Because it is a short SI in this test, and if I develop it, I run out of space before it gets good.

Counter canter feels good, and Lauren gave me the gem I needed, right now, in my lesson on Tuesday, I am to ride the counter canter with a feeling of leg yielding out into it. That really helps keep the balance in the canter. Every once in a while she’ll offer up a change, but she is solid enough in CC to pick it back up as a correction. I think that it is almost always my lack of clarity in my aids as we come into the CC loop (it is a 3 loop serpentine, holding the canter lead, so only a 1/2 20m circle of CC).

10m canter circles are not hard at all, the canter is developing more jump almost daily. We sometimes get 4 or 5 strides of “Whoa…you want to be a real dressage horse?” canter.

The mediums…well, the medium trot, it is still a work in progress. I’m sure it is partially me, and partially the fact that it is not her natural tendency to fling those toes out…at least not w/ a rider.

But, I’m not feeling as nervous as I usually do, so perhaps my NC trip helped…and really, having an instructor who matches the comments I get on tests has done a massive amount to alleviate my nerves.

First, the video guy did get my round where I fell off. And, the next one, but not the third.

Then, Bali made her second level debut…and well, it wasn’t too bad, but the scores were only meh. 1-4 was 59.7. 2-1 was 56.?, and then today, 2-1 was 58.? (tests are in the truck still).

Yesterday, she was on the forehand, and today, she was much more up, but disobedient…up a result of Sparkle in the trailer….disobedient…same cause. Now, to just learn to channel the up, for MY good.

Yesterday, a nice canter shot.

A nice, artsy shot.

A bit of today’s canter..which highlights why the submission comment was “disobedient”
or this…I’m not even sure what this movement is deviating from
Definitely more uphill and not on the forehand.

Today, we had a LONG trail ride….about 2.5 hours, because we kinda sort got a little lost, in that way that we could not find the trail, but not really lost because we knew where we were….but, we were on the Middleburg side of Glenwood Park, which meant going to Foxcroft Rd….which is not really the best road for riding on, but, it was the known way back. A lot of storm damage had closed trails that we’d normally have taken.

Bali held up well. She had one moment where she was starting to feel hot, but when we got to Glenwood Park, we went into the park because there were Porto potties left from the USTR ride yesterday….which was a better option than squatting in the woods, and there was water which we could splash on them.

It was a great conditioning ride. Lots of LSD combined with hill work and some trotting on hard surfaces tossed in with a couple of gallops. I did give her & Romeo a bute upon returning, just because. My back would have preferred to stay under 2 hours, but shit happens, and sitting up straight makes it ok.

On the DQ front, we are working on more collection more often. On the jumping front…we are waiting on a rebuilt saddle.


About Mel

Random musings in a riding journal
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