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Saturday, July 3, 2010

I have a confession

I have a confession.

This year.....I haven't been so good about getting off Farley during rides.

Well.... my conscious compels me to be a bit more honest than that.

This season, I haven't gotten off my horse at ALL and I've required her to pack my ample behind up and down seriously steep trails.

And I don't feel guilty about it.

Here's why.

I could blame it all on the fact that I've managed to injury knees and other injuries are catching up to me, and I've spent more $$ than I care to mention, "fixing" everything. I'm feeling a bit fragile at the moment and although I'm running the streets pain-free, letting myself go pelmell down a hill on uneven ground feels a bit...reckless.

However, there's even better reasons to blame this particular bout of laziness on.

Last year I got off and ran because (although I didn't know it at the time), I was compensating for my riding and for her lack of fitness. Since starting dressage, her fitness level has gone up SO MUCH and my riding ability has SKY rocketed, and I simply have not felt like I needed to get off. The other difference was getting her hocks injected. Going down steep single track, she tucks her butt so nicely and tackles it with such confidence, I actually feel better staying on and letting her handle it, rather than risk me getting off and losing my footing and falling.

Now that both of us have the fitness to "go the distance", there's other reasons to stay in the saddle.

Mounting from the ground is hard on the horse's back. I used to pride myself on being able to mount any horse from the ground, without lengthening my stirrups. However, after reading an article in Equus about the pressure put on a horse's back through mounting from the ground, I've become a firm believer in mounting blocks and not even using the stirrups to mount if possible. (I can't find the Equus article online at this moment, but if someone - like a certain librarian has it??? - they are welcome to link it in the comments) Finding a tall object to mount from at a ride is a pain and I have to weigh the benefits of having to remount several times, against staying in the saddle.

Mounting on the ground is hard on your tack. Check out the pics of these saddles and explanations on the saddle fitter's blog. 'Nough said. Not to mention my girth has to be tighter if I'm getting on and off.

This does NOT get me out of paying attention to my fitness....Just because I may not be getting off and running as much, does NOT exempt me from being an equal partner in this partnership. There still might be circumstances where I DO get off in a ride and run or walk, however, it's no longer my default decision in all circumstances - Farley is much fitter, I'm a much better rider, and our saddle fit is much better. While last year the scales tipped in favor of getting off, I'm discovering that this season they have tipped towards staying on.

Any comments?


  1. I do the same, for several reasons...

    - Mimi is hard to mount from the ground. She has lwo withers, and is barrel shaped. Unless I tighten the girth way tight, the saddle will roll. And large mounting objects are not readily available.

    - She's more surefooted than I am. I trust her implicitly to get us through a rough area, and I feel far safer on her back than I do in front of her or trying to tail her. Our closest near-disaster incident was a result of trying to I don't. Also, I'm not the most graceful thing, and usualyl find at least one rock that is liable to either twist an ankle or send me skidding on my rear end.

    - We don't pace well on the ground. My comfortable jogging pace is too slow for her, and I can't maintain keeping up with her comfortable pace without ending up being a serious detriment to my own health and fitness.

  2. My knees get really stiff while I ride. The more I dismount to walk, the better my knees and body feel at the end of a ride. Getting off to walk for a few minutes during each loop makes a huge difference for me at the end of the day.

  3. I was told at a ride like Tevis, only get off if you can move quicker off, than on. I have gotten in the very slow string of 20 horses crawling down into a canyon, and walking along gave the horse a break, and we were sure not moving quick. I started to get off the following year and with just 3 of us, Dave Rabe jogged off at a good clip, horse tagging behind. No go for me, I got back on, as I could not do that pace, and have knees later.

    Hank lugs me everywhere. Poor boy has to, as my knees are not gonna hold up.

  4. I HATE getting behind someone that has insisted on walking their horse and there's no way to pass and they are going down the canyon so. slowly.

    When I went down the second canyon on foot, I was definately moving right along. NOT going to happen this year, although I could definatley do it if it was needed.....My knees and achilles have been giving me enough issues I actually included pain killers on the drug list for my crew to make sure they have: no-drowsy dramanine, no-doze, and vicoden (yes, it has my name on it).

    Last year my fear was my horse's fitness, this year it's mine. At least I'm riding better so that should help.

  5. I always use a mounting block, a stump, a rock, a ditch or whatever. Saving Pete's back is essential in any kind of distance training. I rarely dismount especially in treacherous terrain. I find I am more of a hindrance than a help for him. My feet never seem to be where he would like them.

    I will dismount, to rest him though.

  6. Because Gigantor is 15.3 hands and I am only 15.2 hands tall, I usually opt to stay on the horse, unless I know that
    a. the trail goes steeply downhill for more than a mile, and thus we won't be going quickly anyhow
    b. there's a rock, stump, or ditch that will assist me in mounting at the bottom of the downgrade.

    Of course, that means I mostly stay in the saddle, and since we've conditioned that way I try not to feel guilty about it.

    Here's the article link you wanted:

  7. Thanks! I'm going to save that article since I seem to reference it at least a couple times a year.


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