Here's some Highlights...
Boss got him some new feet last Sunday. I rode him a few days before his feet, and once since. I'm going to stay "Shhh" about his new feet for now, pending full success. So far, things seem good. He rode last night with a bit less effort on my part (because of cooler weather, spurs, new saddle fit, or new feet), but felt a bit tentative with each step. The longer we worked, the better things got. Around 25 minutes, he hit a brick wall, and was obviously very tired. Time to step it up in the trot, and try to get a few more minutes of true work next week.
Harley got new clothes! Sort of. Stirlingshire Saddle Fitters were at BRM on Monday. I travelled with Harley up to visit them and get his saddle worked on. Alene and Louise were delightful ladies, a pleasure to be around. They added considerable wool flocking to the front of the saddle (both sides), and added a more forward girth strap. The results? The saddle sits completely level on his back now, the girth can sit in that forward traditionally Western girth groove, and I am totally completely upright in my body now. I have found it's easier to post the trot gently, much easier to sit his canter. Harley seems happy as well. We have found it..
Drum roll please...
We found the free walk! Tuesday evening I saddled him, asked him to work fairly hard. I shortened up my reins early in the ride (skipping the longe warmup, cloudy skies shortened evening daylight even more). He collected, and I could feel his rear end lift behind me. I caught myself sitting totally up tall, shoulders back, sternum lifted, and posting very gently. When I asked for canter, I got nice transitions, and was able to sit completely in the saddle, barely moving. As we relaxed to walk, I loosened out the reins, and he followed with his entire front half of the body. Nose near the ground. Completely delightful. I now know that saddle fit was a limitation to the free walk. Who knows what else he wasn't happy about.
Last night, I should've longed him first. I didn't, the wind blew something about in the bushes. Harley spooked, and I was unable to stay with it. Splat. No serious injuries, though my helmet didn't stay atop my head like it's supposed to. Time to go helmet shopping,, *epic fail*
Saturday afternoon, rather than longe quietly and ride gently, Mo decided he was going to run. I know he wanted a "free gallop in the arena day", but given his kick history, I kept him on the longeline. He stayed there, at a near full out run, for about 25 minutes. A sweaty, frothy, heaving mess, Mo finally settled down and became rideable. Another 20 minutes of pushing and working him under saddle, and I believe every ounce of his outta shape body said, "Ouch, Mom. I give up."
I've been averaging two rides a day, leaving from work a little early some days to get those two rides in before dark. I'd like to work up to all three on my days off, and Thanksgiving week I will have a chance to try that out.
Show this coming Sunday... Things are really looking up for me and Harley now with his saddle fitting properly.