Saturday, October 19, 2013

Shifty Revelations

First, let me say "YIPPEE" the run in shed is here. Whew no more Jenna worries. At least for now.
Jenna's little red home

So onto to today. Mom returned form Florida and we went to Peggy's to ride Comrade. I took advantage of Mom being there to check out Comrade's semi custom Black Country saddle fit. Back when Peggy originally got it, it was too small. By time it was made in England and then shipped to her, he had grown in width. With his recent weight loss, we decided to try it again. Peggy rode in it a few times with no negative feedback from Comrade.
Well just looking at it sitting on his back, everything looked good. Further observations and tests showed it was not perfect. On his left side, when you run your hand under the panels there was a tight spot under the stirrup bars and a little bridging just beyond that point. Nothing horrible though. Then you do the same on the right. Big difference. There was some tightness under the bars, but then it was like the pressure disappeared and my hand slipped too easily under. That raised a red flag. Mom put a step stool behind Comrade and looked down his back. What she saw explains a lot.

Can you see what we see?

Comrade's back muscles are not even. His right side is slightly atrophied compared to the left. The good news is that when we did a belly lift, he responded without showing pain. So the back just needs work to rebuild that muscle. His musculature explains why his saddle's shift to the right all the time. I faced the same issue with Barry, though his weak spot was more in the lumbar area and we could use an insert in the pad to help. Not sure how we are going to help Comrade's.
Once we saw his weak spot, Mom talked me through my ride.  In the beginning, he resisted and the saddle slipped like crazy. Then he realized resistance was harder than doing what I asked. She had me do leg yields to the right and shoulder fores, left and right, on a circle to get him using those back muscles. After that he smoothed out. I did not feel like I was falling to the right and the saddle stabilized.
Amazing how Comrade's weight loss brought about this revelations. His fat pockets were hiding these issues. Now we can focus on building the muscles. Stretches will become his friend.
As for the saddle, it is okay. It could use some stuffing work and the balance is a little behind Comrade's, but it is usable. Yay, he has a dressage and jumping saddle.


  1. Interesting photo! Do you remember summer of 2012 when Connor was so one-sided because I rode him that way for so long that his muscles changed? My trainer had me do six weeks of lunging in side reins and the Horse Hugger so that he could work on building the muscles he needed without me interfering, so that he would be physically capable of doing what I asked. It's something to think about - stretching is going to loosen the muscles he's got, but he'll need to do some pony weightlifting to build back what he's lost. Good catch! Isn't it nice to have a jump and Dressage saddle? I wanted to sell my Dressage saddle to pay bills since Nick is unemployed, but I honestly ride in it and progress in it more than my jump saddle.

    1. Oh yes, I remember. Stretches are only part of what he will get. He will also do belly lifts which are like human sit ups. Those are things Peggy can do. Hopefully I can show her how to work him in the balance system, similar to what you used so he can do more active work in between my times with him.
      I use my dressage saddle so much more than my jumping, but I completely understand thinking about selling a saddle for bills. My Thornhill Germania is waiting for Roscoe to grow up at least that is why I say I keep it :)