Sunday, April 26, 2009

Day One of The Great Saddle Experiment

No Sunday Stills from me today. I haven't been able to hold still enough this week to get some photos of barns in my area, and everyone has already seen my barn a million times.

In my previous post, Trying Out Saddles in a Different Way, I "tried on" each of my saddles and discovered that some are comfortable to the human back and some are not. I've been having problems with my mare Lostine bucking each time I move her up into the lope in the Tucker High Plains saddle, and possibly not so coincidentally, that was the saddle that was most uncomfortable for my back. So, today I rode her in what felt like the most comfortable saddle, my old Cordura American Saddlery Arabian saddle.

We did a lot of loping and there was no bucking. Next I plan to try out my Circle Y saddle on her, but it wouldn't be a complete test unless I go back to riding in the Tucker High Plains saddle. Realistically, my mare is going to get better behaved the more I ride her, so in order to rule out an attitude problem as the cause of her bucking, I have to try out the saddle she has been bucking in after I have ridden her a while in the other two saddles.

While riding in this old saddle, I suddenly remembered why I stopped riding in it. I thought it was because I had outgrown the seat, but it was actually because no matter how much you tighten the cinch, the saddle still slides down the horse's side each time you mount and dismount. So, the tree is probably too wide.

While at the feed store yesterday I found some size small splint boots, something I've been looking for for quite some time now. My female Arabs have very small cannon bones and need tiny boots. For years they have been sharing a purple pair of splint boots that I've had for at least eight years -- not the most hygienic choice. Then I found a pair of small SMBs at the Western States Horse Expo last year, but no small splint boots. This year the Velcro on the purple splint boots began losing it's cohesiveness, so I was happy to find these red ones in size small at my local feed store.

While I was riding Lostine I found her to be quite nervous and difficult to slow down. She just wanted to gallop as fast as she could. I was saying, "Easy", and alternating tugs on each rein, but she just kept going faster. I knew something was bothering her, so I looked around and saw a man hiding behind the garage next door watching us. Because he was being sneaky about it, he scared my horse. As soon as I spotted him, he ducked back behind the garage, so I didn't get a chance to speak to him.

One of my neighbors likes to rent out her guest house to different people. She says they are all just friends who come to visit her, but I find that hard to believe since some of these people stay for many months at a time. This latest set of visitors arrived yesterday with a U-Haul trailer filled with furniture and two kids. They don't look like they are on vacation. They look like they're moving in. I'm hoping that once they get familiar with the neighborhood their curiosity will subside, and I can return to working my horses without Lookie-Loos lurking around. I cherish my Sunday mornings, because I can ride while my usual nosy neighbors are away at church.

I'll have to keep an eye out and lay down the law about feeding my horses. My rule is pet all you want, but no treats. I have to monitor what my horses are eating. If each of my neighbors is feeding my horses in addition to what I already feed them, my horses could choke or colic or founder.

In addition to trying out a different saddle, I filed down Lostine's hooves some more. Special thanks to Mrs. Mom for her critique on the condition of Lostine's front hoof that recently had a chip taken out of it. Thankfully, her other three hooves were in much better condition.

I also mowed the pasture today. It still has some patchy spots that need to fill in with grass, but I wanted to get a jump on mowing the first bit of growth so that the horses can get out there grazing sooner than usual. At the rate I'm going, we will run out of hay before the first cutting, so I want to start supplementing their hay with pasture grass.


Katharine Swan said...

I don't know anything about maintaining a pasture, but why would you mow when you have 3 eating machines to do it for you? :o)

Katharine Swan said...

OH -- almost forgot -- glad to hear that you've possibly figured out the problem with Lostine at the lope. I know you still need to try going back to the new saddle to know for sure, but so far so good, right?

HorseOfCourse said...

Your neighbours makes me nervous just by reading about them...
Why on earth was he hiding?
I mean, if he was curious the normal thing would have been to either walk by (staring), or to stop and say hello, wouldn't it?
Or have you tried out the creative suggestion from Mrs Mom without telling us, lol?

Leah Fry said...

The more I hear about your neighbors, the more I think you could write a book!

Love the fancy footwear.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Katharine - Darn it! I knew someone would ask the question and I don't have the answer exactly. I just remember reading several years ago that you should mow the first grass of spring down before letting your horses graze on it. I can't remember why, but whatever it was made sense at the time, so we've been doing this every year. I think that the first grass is too rich in something or rather. Maybe someone who knows what I'm talking about can help me out?

HorseOfCourse - Maybe he thought he was being polite by not totally intruding, but just taking a peek. Who knows? If I were new in the neighborhood I would walk up to the fence saying hello, so that the horse could hear me coming, and introduce myself.

Leah - I AM writing a book. It's called "Incredibly Bad Neighbors". If I ever finish it, would you like a copy? I actually have material dating all the way back to the very first house I ever lived in. I would have to call it fiction, of course, lest someone sue me.

Katharine Swan said...

NM, I actually have heard that the first grass in spring is extra rich (i.e., high in protein content). But I haven't heard that you have to mow it -- just that you have to introduce the horses to it slowly. At my old barn we started out by giving them only ten minutes on the pasture a day, increasing the length of time by a little bit each day.

LOL. There are so many different ways of doing things with horses, and it's always considered life or death. Ninety-nine percent of the time I'll bet we're just overthinking it. ;o)

Kate said...

As you say, your saddle experiment doesn't prove the point (yet) but each data point will give you more evidence. Yet more weird neighbor stuff! Good luck with that.

We don't mow our pastures early in the season (although we do introduce the horses slowly). We do mow later to reduce weeds and prevent the formation of seed heads (the grass becomes less nutritious when seed heads form). After mowing, we don't let the horses in the pasture until the clippings dry, which can take a number of days.

Paint Girl said...

Mowing the grass actually helps it grow faster. So if you mow now than it should really start growing. I know where I live once we start mowing again after winter the grass grows out of control. I read this in a horse magazine I believe.
That's great that Lostine didn't buck! I used to have a saddle like that one and we also had the worst problems with it slipping to the side, we ended up selling it. I like it because it was so lightweight!

fernvalley01 said...

I had never heard of mowing the pasture either , but if it works for you ,cool . The nieghbor issue just never seems to end for you. So unfortunate.

Strawberry Lane said...

Picking the perfect/right saddle is so involved! Slipping sideways saddles live in our tack room gathering dust.

The best saddle I have is one that my behind outgrew years ago. But I still love it and so does the horse.

I realize that is one problem I could solve ... plan to do that, someday.

About the man ducking behind the garage ... now that's a problem. Hope it all works out.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

I usually mow down the weeds so the grass will grow.

I hand graze my horses on the spring grass as much as I can- usually about an hour every other day or so. I'll let them trim it down.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I've read another reason to mow...and not let horses rave for too long on Spring grass, is that when the nights are cool and the days are warm, the sugars in the grass remain in the grass, especially the tips, longer.

Thanks for sharing the saddle experiment, NM. But you better be careful when you go back to the 'bucking saddle', k?

So, not only are the neighbors wacko, but they only lease to wackos, too.
Why the heck couldn't the guy just wave and say Hello. It's not like he didn't know you saw him. He hid from you. Why?


lytha said...

You're actually writing a book about your neighbors from outer space (and elsewhere)? Excellent! I want a copy, but I know you can't be done, they're still crazy and they're still there.

That is the absolute best solution, IMO - consider every creepy "encounter" material for your book, which is sure to make you rich.

I bet you think to yourself, "I don't have to embellish this - I just have to look at my watch and document how long they sit at the wheel today before turning on the car."

I like the idea of a book called "Incredibly bad boarding barns." We could all contribute to that, I bet.


Cheryl Ann said...

How big is your pasture? We're looking at pasture grasses (planning for the future...). Your neighbor is weird.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

All - I still highly doubt it's the saddle, because Lostine was bucking every spring long before I got this saddle. However, I did find the saddle uncomfortable when I laid on it, so I'm going to add another step to my experiment, which is riding with two pads underneath that saddle.

Also, just to clarify, I'm surrounded by neighbors, and this new guy has nothing to do with the family that usually stalks and stares at me. Over the years we've had multiple families moving into single homes around us, because the cost of housing has been too high for the average Joe. Now so many people are out of work that they have to move in with relatives and friends. It's just annoying to be surrounded by so many people who has so much time on their hands and don't know what to do with themselves. Idle hands do the devil's work.

Cheryl Ann - I don't remember how big my pasture is without getting out there to pace it. I would guess 120' x 80'. We just basically used what land we had, but set the fence back away from the streets about 10-feet to avoid having people crash their cars through it. The neighbors on both sides of me have had their fences demolished by idiots who drove too fast around the blind curves, and in both cases it was a hit and run. The way our fence is set up, someone's car would get stuck in the ditch before it would hit our fence. They'd have to fly over the ditch to knock it down.

Lulu said...

I always let our pasture grass go to seed before I start turning them out for the year. I've found that when I do this, I can get my small pasture to last from June to October! But I am also in the midwest.

We spent our friday spraying weeds in our pasture. A good section of it was re-planted last fall, and now the weeds are really enjoying themselves!

Katharine Swan said...

NM, that's smart to set your fences back like that. My farrier lives in a rural area and has had his fences taken out by cars several times. Also usually hit-and-run, but one time it was his neighbor so she couldn't get away with that. Actually, though, I think he said that when he arrived on the scene she was trying to leave quietly, but luckily he was home. :o)

Callie said...

I have a trusty old texas king codura saddle for Misty, wouldn't trade it for the world!

lytha said...

2nd comment for me now, *giggle*...

I bet you can't wait to have your beauties out there on that pretty field.

And I can't wait to read the first chapter of your book. Perhaps you have a .pdf for me?


Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Lytha - You crack me up. I'll have to dig up what I have when I get the time. I haven't updated it recently, but it's either in Word or Open Office format. Despite all my experience writing documentation, I've never actually put anything into .pdf format. That's one more thing to learn. My To Do List is getting out of control. Two years ago I bought iDesign and Dreamweaver, and still haven't had the time to learn how to use those. I had great visions of creating my own website from scratch, but Blogger made it so much easier.