The Art of Natural Dressage

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2011 7:21 pm 
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I've seen foam cut with a specialized jig saw of sorts, but as Donald said, a bread knife works great!

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 3:17 pm 
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Location: Georgia (USA)
Unfortunately the pommel solution will not be happening. I was in discussion with new dealers about buying one and attaching it and then they simply told me to purchase one of the new Ghost models. Yeah... a whole new saddle. I wasn't even told if the pommels would fit the old saddle (which is what I wanted to know - a yes or no). :sad: :sad: :sad: Haven't bought a new saddle in 10 years and then I'm told to buy another one? I thought horse people knew money doesn't grow on trees...


So I need other ideas. I could move the panels closer together in the front of the saddle to sit higher on his wither/spine but that would mean they would press on either side of the spine again (IE not the 3-4" gullet width I want). The Cashel wedge is lifting the saddle off the spine in the front, but it can only do so much. I have taken the scissors to it for far and "modded" it a tad but the problem is having spinal clearance (the thick foam puffs up in the gullet and presses on his back). I should mention that Diego does not seem to be uncomfortable with any of this, but I am not satisfied yet.
Also because of my inability to pull the pad & foams UP OFF his wither like I used to in a traditional saddle - the peaked cotton pad has been pressed onto his spine and rubbed! :ieks: Owwie! In desperation I slapped my Skito Barebackpad on him and put the saddle on top of THAT. It looked hilarious - riding with an extra set of billets flapping about, but it felt comfortable and I think would not rub his withers. I think I want to try a Skito pad next so I am looking for used ones. I am very wary of all the extra padding out there because the more I sit on Diego and put my hand behind his shoulder where the dip is? The more I feel that padding PRESS the poor, atrophied muscles right there, and I don't like that. :rambo: I believe the plastic shoulder shims set above the memory foam in a Skito might solve the saddle-tipping-forward problem until I can fill his back out.


I also wanted to note a very funny little experiment I was playing with concerning rider balance:
Ever since I made the decision to change my posture due to tailbone related issues (IE tucking my pelvis/butt "under" is extremely painful) I have ridden with a more firmly "arched" back (but not inflexible) and chest/ribcage raised up out in front of me (as opposed to pulling my shoulder blades back, which creates stiffness). To me this harkens back to my days as a hunter competitor, though video of me riding like this I don't look as extreme as I feel. :huh: My point is I discovered my balance, shock absorption, posting ability etc changed dramatically for the better!!! :clap: I noticed that when I lose my balance while posting I was "fighting" to "pull" my froward-creeping legs backward by using my whole back and hamstrings... very painful and ineffective. In this new position all I had to do to regain my balance? Arch my back just a tad more - it automatically sent my leg back where it was supposed to be! :ieks: No pushing, pulling, fighting. In fact I found the various degrees of arch in my back helped me through many transitions, turns (sudden) and sudden random speed changes (Diego was one to play mind games with me that day). The real test will be to see how I sit the trot and canter in this saddle + position. I remember in my huntseat days your bottom generally "kissed" the saddle rather lightly at the canter, no heavy sitting. Very different from my dressage days.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 4:04 pm 
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we always had a pommel on our ghost saddles so... should be no problem.
Can't you just put an overal HD foam pad underneath until the muscles grow back?

:)

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2011 9:49 pm 
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Colinde~ wrote:

[...]

I also wanted to note a very funny little experiment I was playing with concerning rider balance:
Ever since I made the decision to change my posture due to tailbone related issues (IE tucking my pelvis/butt "under" is extremely painful) I have ridden with a more firmly "arched" back (but not inflexible) and chest/ribcage raised up out in front of me (as opposed to pulling my shoulder blades back, which creates stiffness). To me this harkens back to my days as a hunter competitor, though video of me riding like this I don't look as extreme as I feel. :huh: My point is I discovered my balance, shock absorption, posting ability etc changed dramatically for the better!!! :clap: I noticed that when I lose my balance while posting I was "fighting" to "pull" my froward-creeping legs backward by using my whole back and hamstrings... very painful and ineffective. In this new position all I had to do to regain my balance? Arch my back just a tad more - it automatically sent my leg back where it was supposed to be! :ieks: No pushing, pulling, fighting. In fact I found the various degrees of arch in my back helped me through many transitions, turns (sudden) and sudden random speed changes (Diego was one to play mind games with me that day). The real test will be to see how I sit the trot and canter in this saddle + position. I remember in my huntseat days your bottom generally "kissed" the saddle rather lightly at the canter, no heavy sitting. Very different from my dressage days.


I first heard of this position, back arched, rather than rounded, in the 1960'sm and introduced to it by an employee of the stable I ran. She had ridden at Sweetbriar, and was taught and coached by a contemporary, and I believe, collegue of Vladimir Littauer, the Russian cavalry officer that immigrated to the U.S.

Littauer had been exposed to the work of the Italian cavalry officer who studied how horses really move (in stead of going with the projection by humans of how they "thought," horses moved), Caprilli. Caprillie was so adament about what he learned and the experiments he was trying that he was sacked, that is removed from his position of authority. He soldiered on, and a few years later the entire Italian jumping team, using his methods, but with him abscent because of his dustup with his superiors, swept the field and stadium jumping events. They beat ever team in the world with what came to be called the Forward Seat, which evolved into the Hunt Seat.

Interestingly enough those that actually rode to hounds and "hunted," were among the last to actually adopt it with the English being the longest holdout and to this day has horse people that refuse to "ride like like and Italian monkey on a stick."

I have watched both the evolution of the forward seat in America and around the world, a short period actually, and the DE-evolving of it as well, as it has degenerated.

The place where it would save the most lives has abandoned it - the cross country portion of the Three Day Event, referred to as "Eventing," these days.

It takes guts to go over a drop off and actually be in the forward seat position as it appears to defy logic, but in fact follows the laws of physics and the true physiology of the horses' bio mechanics - and that of the human as well.

I took on a team, a junior team, of young women that wished to compete in 3 day, and after a few months of coaching and instruction I took them out one day, and rode with them to the top of a cliff - each of us was on a rehabed ex bronc that we had retrained and made into jumpers.

I had them all line up and told them, "It's no dishonor and you will not be judged if you choose not to follow me," and I rode off the cliff in forward seat. My horse slide down, with his hindlegs free to shift about and tucked under him providing directional control, while his forehand, with my extra weight there for speed control, basically helping hold him into the ground walked down the steep slope.

At the bottom I turned back and there they were, halfway down the cliff, every single one, in standard forward seat, head up, eyes forward, as I had taught, and every horse quietly handling himself down the cliff face.

My comment, before I turned and rode off to do some ditch and hedge work was, "Nice job."

I had, you see, a reputation with them, and the horse world round abouts, as a stern task master and I did not want them to see my smile or trears of pride welling up in my eyes.

First year their team took second over all, next year, a sweep of dressage, stadium jumping, and of course, cross country. Everything.

We called what you describe, with ones bottom just barely touching the saddle, "three point," as opposed to two point jumping position. I believe it's still referred to as three point. I teach it by asking for the crotch of the breeches to just touch the saddle, no body part.

And yes, we taught a flexible but arched back. I still do but have left all calling it "arched," as the devolving of correct forward seat has caused people to protest it as not appropriate and tending to stiffen. Nonsense.

One doesn't have to stiffen to arch the back a little. Unless forcing it. If we require a rider to be relaxed in all body parts they'll fall off the horse. It's a complex of muscle, tendon, joints, moving parts and position that is what "seat," is all about.

Some people cannot ride with the back even straight and must round slightly, others can be straight, while many, if they learn correctly, can arch slightly and be totally relaxed.

One of my students had trouble with getting any control at the trot with her lovely Anglo-Arab. One day, as I continued patiently correcting her seat suddenly she responded by doing precisely what I asked for - and her horse was transformed immediately from a reluctant hollow backed hind leg dragging nag, into the most beautiful full floating extension trot animal one could wish for.

I'm sure he had had some good training at some point in his life, because when he felt her seat conform to the classic seat, his eyes lit up, fire from his nostrils, a perfect ramener, and those beautiful legs extended and reach under him and drove him forward. A basket ball player could only wish for such breathtaking "hang time."

You are doing what is right for you. Don't worry about that rounded back thing.

Are you and Diego doing any jumping?

I suspect it, your seat, is perfect for Diego or you would not be getting such results.

Donald, Altea, and Bonnie Cupcake

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 3:14 pm 
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Josepha wrote:
we always had a pommel on our ghost saddles so... should be no problem.
Can't you just put an overal HD foam pad underneath until the muscles grow back?

:)

Oh if I find anyone with an old pommel to sell I'd still be happy to try it! I felt so discouraged - I did not think it was that difficult to get one attached to the saddle... :huh: :blonde:

Are Skito pads high density foam? If so then yes that's my plan... I had been looking for gadgets to lift more of the front of the saddle because of the tipping, but I think a Skito pad with maybe the plastic shims in the shoulders would fix the problem. I put the saddle on my Skito Bareback pad again and rode for a short while - pic of the pad is below...
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v298/ ... G_9229.jpg
I checked his back for marks since he finally sweated a tad, but there were no weird rubs or pinching areas. :thumleft:


Donald)
I suppose I could go on forever about position. :D These experimentation times have been so eye opening for me... this is the first time I've ventured outside of traditional "right vs wrong" knowledge and tried what works for ME, armed with bio mechanical information on the horse as well. Needless to say I am so pleased. And currently we're not jumping, he's got too much pain. I have let him hop over 2' barrels on the lunge a couple of times lately but until he feels better I won't be popping over anything while on his back.


Also a small note - I took the Ghost cantle out completely last night before my ride. I wanted to see how it would feel, since I rarely use a cantle for support anyways. The saddle looked like a cute little racing saddle, LOL. But it truly was comfy! And with the "flat plane" I was sitting on I found myself more conscientious about where to sit so to speak, I did not push myself backwards like I'd feared.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2011 2:40 pm 
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Location: Taiwan, via NZ
Hi Colinde,
Came across some information the other day about the Ghost treeless saddles.It's not good news - sorry... and I wondered if maybe I should just keep it to myself. Yesnoyesnoyesno.. Well.. knowledge is power, forewarned is forearmed and all that. So I'm posting it for you, and you may find it is or is not true/relevant/an issue/helpful.

I wanted a Ghost initially, but got nervous about them. I've noticed another respected shop that began selling them suddenly quit very soon after, saying after evaluation they'd decided not to promote them.. (moss rock endurance). And there were some questions I had about the fit, and the way the weight is distributed. And I can't get to try one.. So I've been a bit skeptical. Specially after your fitting issues.
Anyway, here is the article:
http://www.horse-connection.com.au/specials.html

The good news is, if you really want a Startrekk Espaniola, this company has two new ones for sale at cost price: $1100 Au.. It would probably cost you another $100 to send it over.. still a cheapie!

My other suggestion for you, if you're still looking for a new saddle that is correctly balanced, comfortable for you and comfortable for your horse, is to look on ebay.co.uk for used Heather Moffett saddles. They going for as little as 400 GBP quite often for the older model Phoenix Mark 2 in great condition.

If you're still trying to sort out your Ghost, you could also try this shop in the UK: They sell the pommel arch for 85 GBP.
http://www.ghostsaddles.co.uk/saddles.html

Cheers!
Sue

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PostPosted: Mon May 02, 2011 3:24 pm 
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Location: Georgia (USA)
Thanks for the note. :) Especially about the site selling the pommel...

I found the blurb about a 'structural fault' in the saddles alittle confusing... they didn't specifically say what was wrong/bad, except the cuts in the flaps (which I have not experienced). I'm thinking now maybe it's better mine is an older saddle?
I'm kind of trying to wrap my head around the stirrup comment - I have seen so many treeless saddles where the stirrups are attached to a bar over the withers and I've never liked that design. the Ghost was one of the few that didn't have that. They are attached to a metal bar that runs along the side of the saddle, on either side. So essentially the stirrup attaches at the top of that saddle panel and presses on that... well...along with the whole bar, which is supposed to distribute weight better.

I will say I have had much better fit with the saddle after using a Skito. I just won a used one on Ebay so by next week I should be posting pictures with the new pad...

The $1100 Au is a great price :sad: I just have no money for another saddle. Having not bought one in 10 years I admit I always had the mentality of making the investment and then not needing to buy one for a loooooooong time. I just paid off the rest of the Ghost last month. It was a gift but no one could afford the whole price.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:19 pm 
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Hi All - I'll introduce myself first. My name is Don(na) I specially logged in here to help you people out with the Ghost. I am the first Ghost retailer in the whole world and from Holland - of course I can't know everything and not every saddle is good for every horse. If there are any questions regarding the Ghost I will try to answer them.

The Ghosts in Australia were the first saddles made by the new factory - they are now made by the Freeform people. I heard some parts were missing and the saddles were not delivered with the proper pad. Plus the factory and the Ghost had to get used to each other ;)

Colinde - your saddle is one of the first saddles made. I suppose you bought it from someone in the US? If you can show me a picture of the front part of the bars I can tell you f a new pommel can be attached and how it is supposed to be attached - during development of the Ghost the method to attach the pommel changed a bit.

If a horse has huge dents next to the withers you might consider to go for an Equitex Special pad - not sure if those are available in the US - but the Freeform people in the UK do sell them. They have soft protrusions where the muscles are gone - those protrusions are soft enough to be pressed away by growing muscles and strong enough to prevent the saddle from hitting the withers.

Taking out the cantle of the Ghost is okay - I empty the thing and either put something useful in or fill it with soft material - more pleasant than the hard plastic.

Anyway - if you have any questions I can help you all out with regarding the Ghost (or treeless in general) shoot

Spinal clearance can be good for cooling and yu can imagine nothing hard must rub the spine - but if something very soft is on the spine, no problem.

Treeless will give in, so as much clearance as with treed is not necessary.

If anyone wants to make a study of it I advise to buy the English version of the book go treeless on www.go-treeless.com


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2011 9:44 am 
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Hi Don, great to meet you here :)

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2011 6:32 pm 
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Wow very nice of you to sign in Donna! 8)

BuitenZinnig wrote:
Colinde - your saddle is one of the first saddles made. I suppose you bought it from someone in the US? If you can show me a picture of the front part of the bars I can tell you f a new pommel can be attached and how it is supposed to be attached - during development of the Ghost the method to attach the pommel changed a bit.


I will get some pictures tomorrow :yes: I definitely want to know because I feel like having the pommel would solve the "squishing down" problem in the front of the saddle.

Quote:
If a horse has huge dents next to the withers you might consider to go for an Equitex Special pad - not sure if those are available in the US - but the Freeform people in the UK do sell them. They have soft protrusions where the muscles are gone - those protrusions are soft enough to be pressed away by growing muscles and strong enough to prevent the saddle from hitting the withers.

I looked and did not see a US dealer... is this very different from the Skito pads? I've had better success with the saddle after I started using a Skito pad.

Anyways, thanks so much for the comments, if I have more questions I'll definitely ask. I was starting to lose hope :sad: I wish Diego was rounder backed - then I think it would fit wonderfully!

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2011 10:04 am 
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Hi Josepha - you obviously are everywhere :D

Yes, the pommel prevents the front of the saddle from "squishing down"
I have never tried it before, because I do have some loose pommels here (but not sure if YOU can attach those) but maybe you can try to pull the front of the 2 bars together a little with a piece of wire??? When you grab the front of the bars and move them towards each other a bit, you can see that the 'gullet" will be a bit higher and less wide. When you can fixate it - you can see what it will do with the pommel. Saves you having one for a lot of money and be disappointed when it doesn't work. The pommel is attached with a flexible piece of Kevlar,so it's never 100% rigid.

Yes Equitex is something very different. Maybe you can get one from Dream Team Products in the UK? She has lots of them on stock - it's hard for me to get them, because I have to take huge stock and not many people know them here in the Netherlands - hence they don't want any and the quantity I am supposed to order is too high for me....

Indeed the Ghost fits more easily on round horses, but the man who designed the saddle rides a big TB with a big wither...so don't lose hope ;)


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2011 10:39 am 
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BuitenZinnig wrote:
Hi Josepha - you obviously are everywhere :D


No not at all. Actually, this is simply Bianca's, Miriam's and my forum ;)
Check out the website www.artofnaturaldressage.com

Enjoy! Hope you find many inspiring ideas here :)

Josepha

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:51 pm 
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Hey Don,
you here??
How nice and welcome btw. Did you find this on google? After the discussion about your saddles? :D
You will find some more knowledge people here ;)


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 01, 2011 7:02 pm 
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Hi Inge 8)

An English dealer was pointed in this direction by a customer - she is just starting to sell Ghost and hoped to get some hints from this as well. She mailed me - treeless saddle world is very small ;)

I am sure I will find many people I know!


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 02, 2011 8:44 pm 
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sounds good an english supplier, there is not so much choice in the UK in treeless and bitless and so on.
They are on a level which we had a few years ago.
Wish you luck :f:


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