January 2023

For the first time in years, I bailed on my New Year’s Day tradition of riding…because it was pouring rain. Now we’ll find out how superstitious I am (or not), and if this jinxes me and my riding plans for the rest of the year.

To that end…Tonto Twist did not go according to plan. (What is it with me and this ride??? 1/4 on competitions versus attempts…I think I just need to stop. Which is embarrassing considering it’s my “home turf” and trails I utilize on a regular basis.) Ride story still to come on that…because we had a really great ride, right up until we didn’t, when she pulled up lame in the last mile of the first loop. Subsequent vet exam revealed an extremely sore spot on her hoof, so either a bruise or an abscess, and a week later, she was totally back to normal.

My Dream SaddleTM arrived at the beginning of the month. It is a Reactor Panel, Heraldic model with the Tribute tree. It was actually a demo saddle, made at the very end of 2019…but obviously didn’t see a whole lot of use, given the timing…so it is still in outstanding shape, and the leather even still smells good. I waffled back and forth on getting the demo versus a brand-new custom, but the immediacy factor, and the fact that the specs on it are exactly what I was looking for had I gone custom, convinced me to stick with the one I had in my hands. (Besides, me and my indecisiveness on color and design would probably still be sitting here trying to figure out how I wanted to customize it.) This model looks all-black from a distance, but the skirting and cantle inset are actually a super-dark chocolate brown pebbled leather, and I love it. It’s super-classy, with a very subtle contrast. And looks really good with the white tack. So far I’ve put about 75 miles on it, including the 30-mile loop of Tonto we did, and it’s been fabulous right from the start. This is a couple decades of saddle dreaming finally fulfilled, and I couldn’t be happier with it.

I wish I could sort out her bitting/headgear situation as readily, though. I thought Mimi was a challenge but this one has taken that to a whole new level. She’s a tricky combo of sensitive, fussy, and strong. Especially when following in a group. By ourselves, or leading in a group, I can ride her in a sidepull. But put her behind, and I have to really actively ride and remind her that tailgating other horses is completely and utterly unacceptable…and the sidepull doesn’t quite cut it in that environment.She used to go in an s-hack before I got her, but I rescinded those privileges after figuring out she needed a lot more education before the hack could be properly utilized. And she’s still not really at that point to be using something that is, in essence, a curb bit, or at least the same effect of poll/curb pressure and working primarily off of seat and leg.

I have a whole box of bits (and that’s even after selling some), and all of them meet varying degrees of disdain, everything from “will vaguely tolerate” to “absolute fit-pitching.” And she clearly didn’t read the descriptions on some of the bits, either…by all rights, they should be exactly what she needs, and she couldn’t be more unimpressed with them. Work in progress, that’s for sure. Yes, I have a fascination with bits and collecting them, but this extent wasn’t quite what I had in mind…

(And the obligatory disclaimer that she’s been fully examined by veterinarians, equine dentists, equine veterinarians who specialize in dentistry, bodyworkers, clinicians, consults with bit manufacturers, has regular dental work and body work. When it comes to face/mouth pressure, she’s very…particular. And opinionated.)

I may need to look into a career in bit fitting and consulting at this rate. (Any bit companies out there want to sponsor me? [My favorite bits so far have been Bombers, followed by Neue Schule and Myler.])

On the Pony front…Mimi will be 30 this spring. !!! She’s still spunky and bright-eyed, and runs in and out of turnout daily. We have a routine, in which I pull into the barnyard, get out of the truck to hitch up the trailer, she shrieks at me, I go dispense cookies and kisses, then go back to hitching the trailer. She’s happy, and doesn’t care two whits about the amount of time I spend with Liberty as long as she gets her cookies. She’s living her best filthy, semi-feral pony life, and looks about two yaks removed from her former show pony life…but she’s more than earned it.

One last ride to round out the month up at Camp Creek (far NE part of the Valley, on the west side of Bartlett Lake), which included water running in part of Blue Wash. Pretty scenery, good friends, and excellent training trails…can’t ask for more than that.

Monthly Ride Stats
91 miles
1 [partial] endurance ride
5 training rides
1 arena ride

2 thoughts on “January 2023

  1. Wild! I just also got a Heraldic delivered! I did go custom for mine, and I’ve never had such strong (positive) feelings about a saddle. It fits my impossible to fit mustang like a glove. We did 5,100 vertical feet of climbing over 16 miles and it never moved.

    • That’s exciting! I am so in love with these saddles, there’s a part of me that’s going, “why did it take me so long?!?” Liberty is really challenging (asymmetrical shoulders, and dramatically different angles along her back) but so far it seems to be working well.

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