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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A New Year's Ride

There is no better way to start the New Year’s than a brisk ride in the sunshine.  A local endurance vet that I admire and respect [not the least because he has a great sense of humor and can appreciate the Mcclellen saddle, even if he DID pull me TWICE in my first season :)] offered to take me out on one of his horses and of COURSE I said yes. 

In typical Melinda fashion I was excited until the day before.  I have a hard time forcing myself to do new things, meet new people, and go beyond my comfort zone (which is flying solo) and started feeling the urge to just stay in bed and not do anything as difficult as going on a FUN ride with other FUN people. 

Then I get the email - “bring your own saddle and a set of reins in case you hate the ones I have”.

Crap Crap CRAP.

You see - knowing that I would not have time for endurance (or so I was told, a self-fulfilling prophesy that may or may not be true considering the new curriculum….) I sold the 2 good saddles I had and bought a commuter car with the money.  Still a good decision - I couldn’t guarantee safe storage for them and neither fit Farley and I perfectly. 

The plan was to buy a cheap all purpose winter saddle for the riding I could do.  THAT hasn’t happened because of an inherent lazy streak and the fact I want a 17.5” seat, not a 17”.

What I DO have is a winter dressage saddle. 

With a single dressage girth.

In a very tiny size. 

Time to go to plan B and bring an “insurance” saddle.  I call up my Father and explain I REALLY need to borrow his Mcclellen.  I know I can do a 50 in it, because I sold it to him after I had done just that.  It has an inherent design flaw in the seat, which is why I sold it and bought my Doug Kidd Mcclellen, BUT I WAS going riding, and I was REALLY hoping to not have to do it bareback if the silly girth didn’t fit. 

So of course, I show up like a valley girl on vacation - WAY too much stuff.  I explain to the vet that I am NOT that girl that packs everything as I stuff his truck and trailer with 2 fully rigged saddles and my riding gear. 

Of course - he ended up having a girth that did fit and of course, even with 2 complete sets of horse gear I managed to forget riding gloves and a girth loop for my d-ring-less girth. 

Bailing twine, how I do love thee. 

Two gals joined us and it turns out that it’s the women I rode with at Patriots 100 in November 2010!  We both had great rides and I had really enjoyed her company.  Her sister was also there.  Turns out, they are local to this area, put on a local ride, and she and her sister were as good a company as I remembered. 

I’ve ridden a lot of horses that weren’t mine - Standardbreds, mustangs, Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds - mostly used for civil war reenacting, polo, or ranch work.  I have NEVER gotten to ride someone else’s endurance horse.  Technically this horse hadn’t done any endurance rides, but he was a sweet 1/2 arab that could definitely get the job done of the 10 mile walk/trot ride we had planned. 

I’m shy about asking for rides, partly because my formal training came so late and I’m used to being the rider that is the rank beginner (as a 4-Her in the horse club), the not-so-pretty rider that managed to stay on most of the time (polo), the cautious one (mustangs at the Wild Horse Sanctuary), or being careful about what horses I ended up on because although I COULD stay on them, I was beginning to learn that being the cowboy wasn’t all it was cracked up to be (Standardbreds). 

Thus I was immensely flattered when the owner of the horse asked me for my opinion on how the horse was behaving under saddle - he had started and trained him, and rode him regularly, and like most of us was interested in what a new rider could feel - what little behaviors were there that were being automatically corrected by the regular rider?  Because of my dressage lessons I was able to describe what I was feeling!  Whoo hoo!!!!!  Maybe I can call myself a rider after all!

My first “real” trail ride in almost a year - 10 miles in just over 2 hours.  Lots of hills, great footing, plenty of sunshine.  I was feeling rather proud of myself - I wasn’t sore, tender, or chafed.  And then….I woke up the next morning.  It wasn’t my butt, thighs, or calves that were killing me.  No, it was my back muscles.  I couldn’t twist, bend, or sit, or stand, or walk……I think I’ve done a better job of maintaining my abs than the back muscles that make up my core.  UGH!  Time to hit the pilates mat again. 

I really hope that this ride was a sign of what is to come in 2012 - more riding, more social riding, and me doing things - even if they make me a little uncomfortable. 

Find a used Wintec for a couple hundred dollars and buy it.
Organize horse trailer tack room.
Ride 2-3x a week
Pick a spring LD
Get back into riding (and trail running) shape


  1. How about a thorowgood? I think I'm switching to western

  2. After I wrote this post, a reader actually lent me one of her trail saddles, so I'm good for now. I was really really close on funds for last semester, so until I know whether I'm going to get employment for this summer, I'm trying to hold off on any major purchases. :) If you do decide to put it up for sale for sure, let me know. Is it a broad back or a standard?


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