Debbie worked her usual magic on the mare she is training.
She finally found a Western saddle that fit the mare's shoulders (a Wintec synthetic). Then she took the mare too the beach (lucky mare) and faced her with new challenges. Debbie said it all came together when the surf crashed into the mare's hind end, the mare spooked, got a firm stop signal with the bitless bridle, and she stopped instead of panicking. With no pain from ill-fitting tack and a good, confident rider training her, this mare has started to turn around.
A few days later the mare's owner came to check on her progress. Her owner was thrilled, her previously unmanageble horse went around the ring calmly, no head slinging, and no bucking at the canter. The owner was so thrilled with the progress that Debbie made in two weeks that she ordered a Nurtural bitless and she is going to get the same Wintec western saddle that fits. From what Debbie said I got the impression that this mare's owner fell in love with her horse all over again!
How many horses bought by less experienced and educated riders end up slaughtered because the new owners get saddles that do not fit and bits or bridles that cause pain? Their owners get scared when their horse tries to tell them that it is in pain, give up on riding the horse and finally send their worthless pasture ornament to auction because the horse is "ruined". Such a pity. Especially when the horse could be unruined by using tack that fits and having a few good rides by a competent trainer while the owner gets a few lessons to point out the main problems. This mare was headed in that direction, but her owner decided to give her a chance and fortunately picked Debbie to train her. Now this mare has a long life ahead of her happily carrying her owner on trail rides.
Mia (another horse lucky to end up with Debbie) was doing very well on Wednesday. I've added STP (Stop The Pain),a herbal bute substitute, to the hemp powder I have been giving her for over a year. Mia was used again in a beginner's lesson and did very well, Mia has turned out to be one of those wonderful horses who look after their beginning riders. When her rider goes off balance Mia shifts under her until she is centered in the saddle and then proceeds calmly on. Since Debbie uses a bitless bridle on her for the beginner classes, Mia also cheerfully obeys her little rider's rein aids. I REALLY appreciate this as I am trying to establish good contact with Mia's mouth, something that can be very challenging with an Arab. The hinge where their head and neck meet is so pliable that Arabs can be put behind the bit with distressing ease, though their usual first defense is to invert and fling their heads up. Either way it is a challenge to get decent contact.
So long as a cold wind is not blowing the STP seems to be helping Mia's pain. She is giving me so much more impulse! I had to rebalance my saddle to keep myself united with her new way of moving. Luckily I can do this myself with the Corrector pad and shims. Mia's muscles are growing bigger near the withers and the front of her back so I had to change the shims anyway. It took Mia a few minutes to adjust herself to the new configuration, then, more comfortable, she gave me several trots full of impulse. I even got to canter her a few times! Excitement! I haven't cantered in over a year. I was not riding the canter very well, but I managed not to interfere with Mia's mouth and I avoided pounding on her back. She took a good firm hold on the bit while we cantered as she did during the stronger trots she gave me.
The only thing not wonderful with Mia's stronger trots is that she decided that, since I obviously wanted a faster trot, to just move her legs faster instead of stretching her legs out. This is mildly disappointing since she had been extending her stride in response to more leg at the trot. I guess that she felt so good from not hurting that she just wanted to go fast. So the next several months I will be working on extending her trotting stride during my usual three speeds of the trot exercise. Since she feels free to take a firmer hold on the bit this won't be too difficult, I want to end up where I just have to use my legs a little stronger and feed her some rein to get her to extend.
Friday, though, a cold wind was blowing, so it was back to just trying to get her to move. Mia does not like the cold wind. Since she would be in her late 80's if she were human, I do not blame her at all for feeling stiff in a cold wind. I do too.
Have a great ride.