Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Questions of Tack

I haven't seen my horses in over a week and it's driving me crazy!  We had family in from out of town last week so I didn't get to go to the farm, and then my car broke down and I've been more or less housebound.  It's at the shop today, finally!  So hopefully I'll get to go tomorrow (fingers crossed!!!).

But I'm ruminating over tack today, because I think Storm is really being irritated by either my saddle or my girth (I'm going to check fit next time I go there and see which it is).  Honestly, I'm not too crazy about my saddle either.  I've thought about getting a nice Aussie saddle, but...

Ultimately the goal is to ride bareback and bridleless, but I'm not so reckless as to jump into that, so I really want something that's GOOD for the horse.   First do no harm!  

I rode Storm this year exactly once in her snaffle... I really don't want that; I'm convinced bitless is the way to go.  So the other two times I just had her rope halter on her with reins attached... that works, but maybe a little less finesse than this out-of-shape rider could use.  And, I want to trail ride and I think trying to do that BB&B might be a little foolhardy.  I would like to someday do Endurance riding, too, IF Storm likes it.

So... I want a Dr. Cook bitless bridle.

Joe Camp's comment:  "Forget the no-more-metal rhetoric, forget the pain, forget the cruelty - all of which are true - the darned thing just works better than a bit!"

It crosses under the horse's chin and the pressure is applied to the poll, not the nose.  

I've done some research on saddles, too.  I thought I'd try a bareback pad, more for me than for Storm... I would like to have the close contact but at the same time, I don't fully trust my seat yet and I need a lot more practice to have confidence in it (which riding without stirrups definitely cultivates!).  But again, I feel like I need to have a saddle for heading out on the trail, especially long rides.  

But saddles have probably caused more woe to horses than anything else... a tree has to fit right or it can cause skin sores, muscle soreness, or just cause them to move in a way that is detrimental... and since they don't generally turn and say "Hey, you know... that saddle sucks, can we ditch it?", it's tough to know you've got a good fit.  So what to do?

So I thought, bareback pad.  But a lot of them have a single cinch that goes over the back behind the withers, causing a lot of pressure in a single spot on the back... also not good.  And bareback pads should NEVER be used with stirrups... then you're REALLY concentrating all of the rider's weight on that one spot.  Imagine carrying a person in a backpack and trying to balance them.  

So then I thought, treeless?  A lot of them are not well made and have the same issues as bareback pads.... the tree on a saddle is designed to distribute the rider's weight over a larger area on the back, and also many sit directly on the horse's spine (bad).  I am fairly impressed with Barefoot Saddles and may go that route... although I may opt for a flex tree instead of treeless.   

For now my plan is to get a Barefoot bareback pad and work on my seat and our communication (and her comfort...), and continue to do research into the saddle question.  The advantage of the Barefoot pad is that it has a girthing system that distributes weight much better than the traditional pad... and there are no stirrups.

Anyone need a fairly nice synthetic hunt seat saddle?  ;)