Thursday, June 30, 2011

06/25/11 The Great Saddle Test

R and myself quickly groomed and loaded up Harley and Romeo, and we were off in great time. We were heading north, towards Houston area to test ride an endurance saddle. See, on 06-18, R took me to a saddle shop in Houston. I sat my butt down in a Tucker endurance saddle, and fell in love; until I saw the price tag. My jaw dropped and my heart sank. Not a chance I could afford a brand new one. Luckily, Jennifer found a used one for me on craigslist. I spoke with the owner a few times, and we set a place and time.

On the way up there, a trailer tire blew up. Crap! Luckily, R was able to pop it loose and replace with the spare in 15 minutes. Unfortunately, the fun didn't end there. We had to travel next to a gas station to re-inflate the spare and a tire already on the trailer. Luckily, Harley didn't panic trapped in the trailer with all the traffic whizzing by. Romeo got a little antsy pantsy, stomping a bit while the tire was changed. We were a bit late then arriving at the arena / round pen we were borrowing to test the saddle. The owner of it, as well as a friend of hers, were standing in the roadway waiting for us to direct us into the driveway.

Nice people, they were. I was flattered at how much they complimented Romeo and Harley. Neither horse had a bath, neither horse had been clipped, groomed, or anything more fantastic than manes and tails combed out and the dirt brushed off. I unwrapped legs, and listened intently as the two women discussed my horse's colorations, laughing inside. "Sometimes, the only thing wrong with a horse in the show pen, is he's the wrong color." HAH! Color was the LAST thing I cared about when I got these two, but they didn't know that yet.

We took both horses and all their gear to the round pen. R walked Harley around while I was warming Romeo up. My plan was to test-ride Mo first, let R expose Harley to the "scary new place", and allow Harley to see Mo "do his job without monsters eating him". Easy enough, right?

Romeo was a saint! For this I was extremely grateful, as the day before was a Mo-gallop day. Every time I squeezed a leg on Mo on Friday, it was Run Run RUN! I tried to wear him down, something I don't do too often, as every time he'd want to lope off, I'd push him into a quick canter, let him get quiet, push a little more, back to trot, back to walk. Ask for squeeze again, and if he'd take off, lather, rinse, repeat.

On Saturday, though, it was "game-on". I don't know how Mo knew, but he longed like an angel in just the rope halter and line, stayed loose, didn't try any wacky doo rollbacks. He started out very stiff, and I was concerned "did he get hurt when the tire blew"? But no, he was just stiff from standing still so long. This eased up some as he longed. I tightened the girth, attached bit and helmet, and prayed a little. "God, this is NOT a good time for Mo to toss a fit. Please keep him quiet, and me safe."

Again, he was amazing. He lightly settled into his nifty little western pleasure jog, nose down, relaxed. I forced him up into a canter just a circle each way, as the pen was a little too small for extended canter work. I was amazed at how light the canter was. Slow, cadenced, and quiet. Awesome. Romeo only worked for about 35 minutes, finishing up with some backups, turns on fore/haunches, and a hint of side passing.

I hopped down. Both ladies were stunned. The saddle owner said, "You need to start doing competitive trail with him, or your other horse for that matter. You've got quite the relationship with him. I can't wait to see what you've done with the younger one." The other lady there remarked, "That's some horsemanship. How long have you been riding?" Utter shock when I gave it up,, "Um, 8 or 9 years,, somewhere's in there."

Harley was up next. While warming Romeo up, Harley got a scare. R was out letting him graze, sniff, and explore, when suddenly, another horse from the land owner's herd came galloping up to him. They *almost* touched noses before I hollered to R what to do. He didn't quite react fast enough, but the saddle-owner ran over and helped him. Knowing what Harley had experienced already today - blown out tire, changing it on the busy highway, air station to reinflate tires, strange scary place, greeted aggressively by another strange horse... I was a little nervous, to say the least.

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