So I am clearly the worst blogger ever. Sorry everyone! Juggling work, kids, dogs, horses, other work and life in general sometimes gets out of control. I'm back now and will be posting more regularly. Promise!
So much has happened over the spring I hardly know where to start. The good: test ride clinic with judge Elaine Potter. She's not only very skilled, but hilarious! While Gus and I were far (far) from our best, she was able to help us through some issues. A few weeks later our barn hosted a clinic with Brittany Fraser-Beaulieu. This one was of particular interest to me since I knew Brittany when she was a little girl and have followed her career closely. She's a hugely talented rider who has been fortunate enough to have access to world-class coaches and horses. I was curious whether she had the skills and ability to pass that knowledge on - she sure does! Brittany has an excellent eye, clear and easy-to-follow instructions and a positive and encouraging delivery, while still being tough and demanding results. She's coming back in the fall and I'm looking forward to it.
Now for the bad: The spring was definitely one of ups and downs where riding and progress were concerned. I was sidelined by bronchitis for a few weeks and Gus developed uveitis which, though we caught it quickly and he responded well, was still scary. Knock on wood he hasn't had any recurrences so far.
Between coming back from my injury and all these other issues interfering with our training, it was easy to blame our lack of progress on me. But when lack of progress morphs into moving backwards, to the point where simple things like a 20m trot circle become impossible, you start to look for other solutions. I was getting increasingly frustrated and Gus didn't feel like my horse at all. It was like a beginner riding a sour and sore school horse.
Lightbulb! What makes a horse sour and sore? Surely not the ridiculously expensive custom made saddle, just 18 months old, which fit Gus so beautifully when I got it? Sadly yes. Everyone warned be that Oldenburgs and crosses mature more slowly, and that buying a foam saddle with a non-adjustable tree for a 6-year-old was a bad idea. Unfortunately I chose to believe the reassurances of the salesperson and was just happy to find something that he and I both loved, after months of searching.
Now I know there is a lot that can be done with shimming etc. but trust me - Gus has developed the shoulders of a linebacker and there is no amount of tweaking that would make this saddle fit him again. Happily the search for a new one was short this time. A few people in our barn have started riding in the D1 Zero by Prestige. The tree is like none I have ever seen and the saddle is designed to give the most shoulder freedom possible. I can't tell you how dramatic and immediate the change was as soon as I started riding it. Not only was Gus soft, round, forward and straight again, I could suddenly keep my legs in place, sit the trot easily and maintain my balance - issues I had been struggling with for months. Bahr's had a used one on consignment and Liz came out to confirm it was a good fit - done deal!
So now tat we are both healthy (fingers crossed) and the saddle issue is resolved, we can start moving forward again and get back to our goal of showing First Level.
About the author
I'm a middle-aged, overweight, rusty re-rider who refuses to let any of that get in the way of my passion for dressage.