I have gotten into the habit of flexing Harley left and right at the start of his ride, somewhere in the middle, and again at the end. Harley, likewise, has gotten into the habit of trying to nibble at my feet, stirrups, saddle, or his shoulder, scratching an itch.
This went tragically wrong last Thursday evening. I was preparing to pop him in the nose with my boot for biting, when his mouth met my stirrup. With his lower lip tangled over the stirrup, he couldn't break free from it.
He reacted, and started to fight the stirrup's grip. I went down, and so did he. In his "going down", he also broke the saddle. Yup, I just had that saddle checked the previous Friday by the Scottish saddle fitters. A broken girth strap. I have to drive northwest of Houston this coming Friday to get that resolved.
Since then, I've had one ride in the endurance saddle, and one in the jump seat (the fitters flocked it up nicely, now it actually fits him). Endurance saddle canter brought a tense pony, Harley not remembering what that felt like. Hunt saddle? Well, after our initial ride in it, he's been super mellow.
As in "taking advantage of me having a new body position where my butt isn't as plugged-in" mellow. Having to relearn my body position, and find a way to get him up IN the canter without vocal kiss sound.
Perhaps tonight I will set down some trot poles and trot up over the X-rail a few times, get his mind off my wonky position. We're set to compete this Sunday at AHHf again, Intro C and Training 1.
What I have noticed, in flexing him,.... ironically enough, his mouth has stayed closed since the accident.
Neither horse nor rider were seriously injured in the making of this incident. Harley had a warm shoulder and neck, while I have two bruised knees that are healing.