Mare says, "LET ME OUT!"

Poor Dassah-Mare. The weather has been...quite wintry.. and the horses have not been able to go out at all. If it's not icing, it's strong winds and snow, if it's not that, it's knee deep in mud and goop. So no turnout. Dassah's been exemplifying the side-effects of no turnout with a tight back and stiffness everywhere. The stalls are really large so they can move around well but there's no place for them to stretch their legs right now. A dry lot is outside that when it's not covered in ice or water we can use to let them out for a bit but with last night's last batch of snow and sleet, lord knows when we'll be able to use that.

The outdoor arena is separate from the barn - about 50yards away. I think the horses aren't turned out there because the footing is so nice (booooo).

So Dassah and I have been lunging a lot. Well, Saturdays and Sundays. Saturdays are her most stiff and troublesome workouts. She braces, bolts, and bucks for a solid 15 minutes before settling down. If I work her on Saturday, Sunday is a much MUCH better workout. I've said this before but we use the whole arena when we lunge. We'll circle in one corner and I'll run parallel with her to the other end and we'll circle down there. Plus the lunge line is a solid 35' so we're putting in 20m circles with straightaways. We do spirals in and out, so there's that. I'm trying to buy a surcingle and side reins so we can work her dropped inside shoulder (I push her forward when she does that but would love to have an outside rein...).

Anyway, the WHOLE point of this post is to talk about her stiffness and tight back. I couldn't work her Saturday so Sunday I went out, cleaned out stalls (4 muck-buckets btw, instead of the usual 1 for all 5, oof), and tacked up miss mare. I have a Thorowgood T8 from Trumbull Mountain that I love but I need to send it in for a re-flocking. The whole point of lunging is to build up muscles so when I do send it in, it's correct for a little. Anyway, I switched out the wide r-bar for an extra-wide as I think part of her bucking problem is that I'm trying to put the saddle too far forward and it's blocking her shoulder movement. However, if I move it back, it's too narrow and doesn't sit right. So, out with the wide, in with the extra-wide. And, I think it works very very well. I also took the keepers off my full-cheek Stubben SteelTec double-jointed snaffle so that it's not set her in mouth. I wanted to see if she'd find that more appealing. I also got my fleece girth out to see if the double elastic (my SmartPak girth only has elastic on one side) made any difference.

Lord, the things we/I do.

Tacked up, went to the indoor, and she proceeded to rip across the arena like a bronc.

Me: Oh please, please let it not be the saddle fit. Maybe she's just having fun?

Dassah: I'm a bronc, wheeeeee!!!

Me: Please God, let it not be a major chiro issue. Please let her self-adjust!

Dassah: Check out my vertical!

Me: (long string of swearing)

Me: Get in here. Dammit. 

Dassah: I am a WILD BEAST! RAWR! 

I stripped off the saddle and sent her back out, fervently praying she would keep bucking to show that it wasn't the saddle fit. but seriously, who prays for their horse to buck?

Me: Ok, let's try this again. Forward, at the trot. 


Dassah: Hey ma, I'm a rodeo bronc celebrity! Here are all the variations of bucking!

Me: Well, okay then, sweet Jesus hallelujah, it's not the saddle!!!

We lunged for a bit longer without the saddle, I think she would appreciate being able to sort out her issues sans saddle in the future so I'm going to start each session without saddling up first.

I saddled her back up and she was fine - forward and relaxed. I still need to get a chiro out but at least for now I know it's not the saddle. I've got a loose-ring version of my bit on order from SmartPak so I don't have to worry about the full-cheeks causing any harm. She seemed to really like the bit w/o the keepers and the study I looked into by Dr. Hillary Clayton showed that most horses do not prefer a fixed bit and the bits they did prefer were double jointed oval-link curved snaffles. So I have the right bit, wrong..cheek.

Check out these studies by MSU - they are a wealth of information!


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