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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 5:06 pm 
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(mods please feel free to change the title of this thread if it is suited to accommodate other treeless saddle fitting as well)

I just got my Ghost treeless a few days ago and Josepha has asked that I post my questions and pictures here so that everyone can benefit from the discussion on fitting the saddle. :)
I don't have any pictures of the saddle actually on him yet, but I will post a few that I have of his back to give an idea of what I'm working with:

Pictures deleted to save space - see subsequent posts for current -

This is an older pic to show just how bad the muscle wastage used to be. You can see where the treed saddle pressed on his back. (this was after a long charity trailride in 95 degree heat)
Image

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Last edited by Colinde~ on Fri Apr 01, 2011 1:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 5:32 pm 
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What picture shows his back now, Colinde?

The back in the last picture I would not advise riding but at least 3 to 6 months of groundwork gymnasium. But that is not the case now, right?

This is going to be a winner topic on information :) :yes:

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 6:26 pm 
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Josepha wrote:
What picture shows his back now, Colinde?

The back in the last picture I would not advise riding but at least 3 to 6 months of groundwork gymnasium. But that is not the case now, right?

I don't have any of his back currently - so I'll be taking plenty tomorrow! (better than the ones I just posted)
I don't think his back is as bad now as the bottom picture. He has muscle I can feel that wasn't there before. You can still see hollows, and spine - but not like that.


Josepha wrote:
This is going to be a winner topic on information :) :yes:

:yes:

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 6:40 pm 
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great I love befor and after pictures :applause:

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 04, 2010 3:11 pm 
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Oh, thanks for doing this you guys! Great idea!

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 6:45 pm 
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Ok, pictures of his back saturday...
Image
Image
You can see where the holes are and were... although they have filled in noticeably from that bad picture in my original post.
Image
His back when his head is down
Image
__________________________________
Now for the saddle's adjustments.

Original panel widths I had adjusted.
Image
It's adjusted fairly narrow currently.
Image

Current girth position
Image
Image


Ready to go!
Image
Outdoor picture w/ better light of how it sits on his withers... After riding for 5 minutes though with my fingers under the pommel area it just seemed like between the panels and the ghost pad it was too tight on his spine....
Image

So I adjusted the panels at the front alittle wider to accommodate the withers.
Image
^ like so


We rode walk, trot and canter a bit. And I rode out in a short 15 minute hack up a hill to see how it would stay. It slips back after just a few minutes of riding. It bugs me because I don't know if I'm fitting it wrong - and it also feel uncomfortable to me when it slips back. Like I'm sitting too far back on him.

Here's how far back it slipped...
Image
You can even see his white hairs so it's slipped BEHIND the entire rise of the wither... is this ok? :huh: And it's well behind his scapula.

His back after removing the saddle.
Image
________________________________________


So today I will be getting pictures of me actually sitting in the saddle.
When we rode he stretched down ALOT and had big gaits 70% of the time, so I think he is comfortable. But I just want to be sure I know how to fit this thing.

I realize he needs alot of work for his back to build up. :sad: We have been trying and he was building alot up until 2 months ago when we started dealing with his injury and his sore heels. I can see the muscles have really started to look weak again from lack of work. :blush: Part of the idea behind the saddle is it gives me stirrups to occasionally get off his back when we're doing hills and trails for his back.





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PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 7:35 pm 
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Everything I can see in the pictures strongly supports you are fitting him properly.

There are many perspectives on saddle fitting by many different people. I can only offer how I tell if a saddle is properly positioned.

I want first the girth to be just barely in front of the lowest point of the seat. This should put it in the middle of the "rigging," or one notch back. A high withered horse, if he also has a lot of slope from point of shoulder to the topmost and rearmost part of the shoulder is not going to carry a saddle forward without risking banging down on the withers. It's true for all horses actually. Even flat withered horses can have the top of the shoulder irritated by the saddle sitting too far forward.

Once I'm satisfied with the girth position I set the saddle just a little forward on the withers and putting my hand on the pommel shake the saddle sideways back and forth with just a bit of downward pressure.

The saddle will start to shift rearward, what I want, and at some point will stop even though I am still pressing and still shaking a bit. There is very likely where I want the saddle.

The girth likely will hang about a hand width forward of the elbow, NOT in the grove forward of the barrel and after the elbow. 3 to 5 inches clearance for the elbow is what I am looking for but still with the girth close to perpendicularly vertical to the ground.

The first time a horse feels this new position, if he's been saddle a lot too much forward, he may act slightly cinchy. I have seen them though, actually sigh in relief at having the girth in this more rearward position.

Putting the girth forward in the "grove," one is compressing the heart and lung chamber, further back just foreguts. I do not like to have my chest trapped, compressed and constricted and neither does the horse.

The channel width reduction:
Image

You may want to consider opening up the channel between the panels. If there is much firmness to them at that width they are going to press against the rib ends at the spine attachment. Do a look up on horse anatomy and look at the spinal structure. The channel or throat needs to be about 4 inches apart to rest on the ribs tops but away by an inch or two from the vertebrae.

Think how this might feel on your own back if your spine was asked to take the pressure. We carry weight on our backs on the rearward portion of our ribs, not our spine - not without risk of injury at any rate.

The last position picture saddled and having "slipped back."

Image

The mind, ours, our brain, in service to our learning tends to want to use prior images (and other sensations) and especially patterns with parts in relation to each other as a "model," for future very similar activities we are involved in.

You look at that picture and you compare it to past views you've had of saddled horses. Pretty much the entire world, with some rare exceptions, saddles their horses too far forward. We have gotten in the habit (habit is the learning function brought to completion) of seeing this and presuming it is "correct."

Is it?

Witness all the horses with wither galls, loin galls from the saddle being forward and tipped upward in front with corresponding digging down at the tail of the panels.

We even see galls on the shoulders. Most come from fitting the saddle too far forward, the rest from shapes that don't match the horses' shapes.

Nice thing about treeless is that the panels are soft. Even if we fit the saddle badly usually the harm will be only to balance. Not that that is a good thing, but at least not galling.

As I think about your statement of how he moved under you and under this saddle I'm am so tickled I laughed out loud. Your horse Diego is SIGHING with relief, stretching as he could not before.

Everyone here knows my bias about bareback, and few of us know how to do it without digging our nasty pointed ischia (seatbones) into the horses back, though all the other elements of bareback are actually manageable and even good. I teach how to ride bareback occasionally. All it consists of is teaching my students that a slight tension in buttocks and thigh will be the "saddle," to protect the horse from our bony butts/bums.

Treeless saddles, to me, work in this way, or should. They put just enough padding under our thigh and buttocks to keep our iscia from digging into the horse - resulting then in the Diego Sigh.... LOL

I understand you found this saddle to pitch you forward at first. Have you found a way to deal with the cantle yet? Diego has a remarkably level back for a horse with such a high wither coupled with a beautifully long slanted shoulder. Gorgeous.

This could be why you feel pitched forward in a saddle that is following his back contours. The seat may be too small for you. Can you increase the length by adjustment?

Possibly the company can advise you on this matter.

As you experience riding on this saddle with Diego under it will you get back to this thread with what you are finding out?

I'm considering a treeless one day and of course collecting information - best source is of course trusted friends that have the direct experience.

Donald, Altea, and Bonnie Cupcake

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 7:54 pm 

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Great thread, I'm reading this with great interest.
I agree with what Donald said about the channel width and also the saddle sitting further back being a very good thing. To my eyes it looked too far forward on the "ready to go" pic and just right in the "slipped back" pic. It allows the horse's shoulder to come back as far as it needs to when moving. Even if the cinch can not be adjusted to where it's completely vertical but slanted forward towards the horse's front legs a bit I'm not sure that that's even a problem. I don't know treeless saddles but assume that with them you don't have to worry about whether there is enough flare in the panels to keep the back from digging into the loin when the saddle sits further back.
Please let us now how Diego feels about all this as you get more of a chance to try out the saddle.

Birgit


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 7:52 pm 
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The riding pictures are coming tonight when I get home from work. :) Took them yesterday, although it was the coldest day we've had yet. :ieks:

I did open the spinal channel a bit - all the way down the panels. It seemed to work fine, I may adjust it more just to see what works best. Where I'm getting alittle lost is this Ghost pad that comes with it. A huge extra "pad" made of the same thing the panels are, but I feel like sometimes it hinders my ability to tell is the panels are fitting his back correctly. Should I try to fit it first with a regular pad and not the extra? (help - Josepha! ;) :roll: )

I also made sure the girth was relative in position to the seat of the saddle rather than D's ribcage anatomy. Growing up in hunters I was very much taught to have the girth come very far forward, that habit never went away.


In response to the saddle being too far forward..
(this is just my reasoning, not a proclamation of right or wrong) I had read that treeless could sit further forward because the shoulder blades of a horse were no longer an issue? That with flexible soft panels of treeless saddles the should is allowed to glide underneath the panels? That is just what I read. D's shoulders and withers seemed to push the panels back instead. Part of my other desire to be forward (yes besides that stupid pesky "habit" I developed over the years ;) ) was that when I ride bareback I ride very close to the base of his withers - the strongest part. So I don't load the weaker parts of his (not well muscled) back. If I sit further back I feel guilty...almost 2x as heavy on his back when he moves. :blush: So part of my original obsession about getting the saddle forward was to ensure I was not sitting so far back that it was more uncomfortable for him.

But again this is a learning process. I guess more will be able to be discussed once I post the other pictures.


This was my 3rd ride in the saddle and so far my observations are:
His walk is as swingy and forward as ever, just as much as bareback.
He's currently stretching down about 30-40% more at the trot than in the treed saddle.
He can easily and immediately move out in a gait if he wants to.
He actually stood still (only once :roll: ) yesterday when I mounted. He never does that.
Riding in it really is like riding bareback with two panels under you and stirrups, which feels funny and good at the same time. :funny:
It strips all your security. :ieks: lol I can see why some people don't like riding in it.
There's no more panel fuss - your knees bend softly and your leg hangs against the horses side any way you like. Lots of potential for communication.
Because there is NO pommel it helps me keep my pelvis aligned upwards rather than tilted forwards. I don't have a brace or anything to rest it against.
My hips are also set wider like bareback - which I knew about this saddle. BUT it gives me the opportunity to contract my glutes more and bring my bum under me. It also makes it ALOT harder to close the hip angle and grip in the fetal position. ;) I got off of him and noticed a sharp pain in my rear :ieks: :funny: those muscles were going "OMG! we're awake now!" :roll:

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 8:15 pm 

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Colinde,
when you write that D's shoulders were pushing the panels back, that's how it's supposed to work if the saddle is placed a bit too far forward. My flexible panel corrector pad does the same thing to move my treed saddle back as the horse's shoulder comes back.
I would say let the comfort of horse be your guide. If Diego stands quietly for mounting and moves out well and in a relaxed manner I think he's telling you things are good. :) :applause: :applause:
So many saddles seem to fit great when the horse is standing, but they are hardly ever standing, so a saddle and rider that move with the horse must be the most important for the horse's comfort and ability to use maximum range of motion.

Birgit


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 8:24 pm 
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Hi,

Haven't got time now, to read the rest so I am just going for your new pictures.

Where the saddle has slipped back, there is where the saddle is at the right spot, actually.
The saddle needs to lie at least 3 fingers after the shoulder blade.
The girth needs to be at least a handwith after the elbow. Or else shoulder blade and elbow will come against the saddle while walking.

If you feel you are then sitting to far back: go sit in the front by tucking in your pelvis :)
Lovely how these saddles finally make you find out how to sit and where to sit and everything. Or that is what happened with me anyway :)

Next, if the saddle touches the spine, pillow up. You have room in the pad to add more padding which will act like the panels of a traditional saddle.

Gymnasium is key with this chap, all though you've done a great job already with getting muscles on there :)
But it takes time. I would not ride more then 3 times a week and never longer then 20 minutes.
When your horse hollows his back, please go a gait slower or halt and start over.
It is a good sign that he puts up his back with the ghost :)

If any more questions, please ask. And please keep placing pictures of his back here so we can see the improvement. That too is a first on the forum I believe :thumleft:

Thanks so much for posting! 8)

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 9:02 pm 
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Colinde~ wrote:
The riding pictures are coming tonight when I get home from work. :) Took them yesterday, although it was the coldest day we've had yet. :ieks:

I did open the spinal channel a bit - all the way down the panels. It seemed to work fine, I may adjust it more just to see what works best. Where I'm getting alittle lost is this Ghost pad that comes with it. A huge extra "pad" made of the same thing the panels are, but I feel like sometimes it hinders my ability to tell is the panels are fitting his back correctly. Should I try to fit it first with a regular pad and not the extra? (help - Josepha! ;) :roll: )


I'd ride with a saddle cloth for just a few minutes to get the feel, dismount, pull the saddle and clothe and examine the horse's back for hot spots, turned back hair, and look at the overall compression pattern. I'd say 10 minutes of brisk riding would be sufficient.

Then try out the Ghost pad. And do the same thing. Note any extreme variation in the horse's coat, heat, etc.

Does that pad have a lifted portion down the center to keep it up off the spine?
Colinde~ wrote:

I also made sure the girth was relative in position to the seat of the saddle rather than D's ribcage anatomy. Growing up in hunters I was very much taught to have the girth come very far forward, that habit never went away.


Even when I taught hunt seat, coached eventing, I had trouble with the concept, nevertheless, foolishly surrendering to tradition, I taught a forward placement.

Today I think it's a rare horse that would not rub the top of his shoulders on the point of the panels, and likely many of mine did way back.

The theory was that the forehand would take the weight of rider on landing, and be able to lift the weight more efficiently on take off before the obstacle.

If I think of it relative to the human body that makes little sense. I'd no more put the weight far forward now than I'd weight over the croup for jumping. There is an ideal place for each horse, and attention to the back, and evaluation of the movement of the horse, not dictating by some model is more important to proper location.

Come to think of it it's in the tradition of AND (yes, it's been an institution long enough now to have traditions) to look to the horse for the answer and believe what you see, feel, hear, smell, and even taste, and what the horse tells you in his presentation.

Colinde~ wrote:
In response to the saddle being too far forward..
(this is just my reasoning, not a proclamation of right or wrong) I had read that treeless could sit further forward because the shoulder blades of a horse were no longer an issue? That with flexible soft panels of treeless saddles the should is allowed to glide underneath the panels? That is just what I read. D's shoulders and withers seemed to push the panels back instead.


The horse, the school master, speaks very directly, doesn't he? :cheers:

I had not read ahead before I commented above. While what you remember reading may seem logical, especially to those from the background you and I are from, huntseat, coming at the horse with a treeless requires a fresh view of things.

I fight old patterns imposing themselves on my current assessments though it can cause me occasional dissonance - the flip side being I get to eventually accept the new view while working so hard to examine it.

I've switched many riders from riding bitted to bitless and the biggest barrier to them learning is allowing the new strange feeling to be sought, rather than trying to make bitless use similar to their old bitted use patterns of behavior. Same, I would think, with saddles ... from treed to treeless.

I no longer place even treed saddles as I used to. Both English and western are invited to move as far back as the horse's back asks me for, though my hand pressing on the pommel and shaking the saddle gently back and forth accross the horse's back.
Colinde~ wrote:

Part of my other desire to be forward (yes besides that stupid pesky "habit" I developed over the years ;) ) was that when I ride bareback I ride very close to the base of his withers - the strongest part. So I don't load the weaker parts of his (not well muscled) back. If I sit further back I feel guilty...almost 2x as heavy on his back when he moves. :blush: So part of my original obsession about getting the saddle forward was to ensure I was not sitting so far back that it was more uncomfortable for him.


Hmmm....something to ponder. Where on the horse's back does he most comfortably carry a human? Is it closer to the withers?

I've argued with others on this point, mostly silently in my mind so with myself actually, and finally came to this conclusion (which I'm open to change should new information appear): both ends of the horse have, and have to have, shock absorbing ability.

I believe the system in the rear, the hindquarters, can be developed to handle a great deal of weight, but essentially it is a looser system, more flex, range of motion of the parts, by far than the forehand configuration.

But ... the forehand, even with it's wonderful suspension system has a limit in the safe distance ligaments can stretch before straining. Given the great relative size of the suspensory apparatus it can carry considerable weight, but it would tire more easily an be more vulnerable for one limiting characteristic: it has no bony sockets. The shoulders are NOT connected to the spine but instead provide ligiment suspension of the spine like a cradle.

This somewhat long winded dissertation of mine, for which I apologize, is to make clear the point that there is a weight supporting balance point between front and rear, longitudinally, for each horse. It changes with conditioning of the horse, their own weight distribution, which changes with gain or loss of weight, and the rider's own weight distribution.

Sally Swift's, and others', insistence that the rider line up vertically from heel, to hip, to shoulder, to ear of the rider takes this very issue into consideration. The less your body is spread out over the horse's weight bearing area, the more easily he can carry you. Seems counter intuitive though, doesn't it?

The difficulty with conceptualizing it is that we are often taught it in a static model, when the fact is it's the dynamics of movement that count most. Vertical alignment means less forward and backward movement underway.

The point of balance then is where the horse tells us it is. If we have found it he will tire less soon, move more freely, execute maneuvers more elegantly and athletically.

I spent many months with one student trying to correct a long held habit of poor posture (seat, in the jargon) with the poor horse mumbling along, sometimes out of balance so badly he would burst out with rushes, now and then balk, just all around hell.

One day she was able to sustain the proper seat, good vertical alignment for a longer distance than before, at the trot, sitting, and I knew what I was seeing because of the way the horse began to move, so I commanded, in my riding school master voice, "Trot OUT."

The horse immediately began, for the first time under the rider, an extended trot with great hind action, beautiful long reaching strides so elegant powerful and smooth that it would have passed muster in the dressage field. She did not have to post. It was like riding a sled down a mountain.

As he came into the corner I knew the test was about to come because this is where she had lost it in the past everytime, so that the horse would rush out of the corner (it's painful to trot on a curve if the rider is off balance themselves, and unbalancing the horse).

This time she maintained, and the horse came out to the long side of the school with the same beautiful extension, and even increased his stride and thrust. It was enough to bring tears to one's eyes to see the joy of the horse in being released and relishing his own athleticism.

The rider has improved steadily to this day.

Jumps? I have not tested her with jumping as yet, and she wants to, but I will not have her place the saddle forward. I know where the balance point is for this horse and rider.

And the answer for you in the treeless, regarding placement, can come to you more quickly if you use two point to test. The stirrup to girth placement ratio is the key. If you cannot easily maintain two point it is wrong. When you can the saddle is in the correct position. Wish I could be there and watch.

Colinde~ wrote:

But again this is a learning process. I guess more will be able to be discussed once I post the other pictures.


This was my 3rd ride in the saddle and so far my observations are:
His walk is as swingy and forward as ever, just as much as bareback.
He's currently stretching down about 30-40% more at the trot than in the treed saddle.


Yay!
Colinde~ wrote:

He can easily and immediately move out in a gait if he wants to.
He actually stood still (only once :roll: ) yesterday when I mounted. He never does that.


And you obviously get the message.
Colinde~ wrote:

Riding in it really is like riding bareback with two panels under you and stirrups, which feels funny and good at the same time. :funny:
It strips all your security. :ieks: lol I can see why some people don't like riding in it.
There's no more panel fuss - your knees bend softly and your leg hangs against the horses side any way you like. Lots of potential for communication.
Because there is NO pommel it helps me keep my pelvis aligned upwards rather than tilted forwards. I don't have a brace or anything to rest it against.
My hips are also set wider like bareback - which I knew about this saddle. BUT it gives me the opportunity to contract my glutes more and bring my bum under me. It also makes it ALOT harder to close the hip angle and grip in the fetal position. ;) I got off of him and noticed a sharp pain in my rear :ieks: :funny: those muscles were going "OMG! we're awake now!" :roll:


LOLOLOL

Change can be literally painful.

Too much pain though is a message to slow down, possibly reexamine.

Are you clenching too tight?

You ARE apparently having a really good time, and I think, if I read you correctly Diego is having a blast.

Oh dear! I just stopped long enough to see if others had replied. I found Josepha's post. We are SO in agreement, with the added valuable working advice she expands on.

The advice to go to a slower gait or stop if he hollows his back? Priceless. Vital, in fact. Wish I'd thought of it.

This is, as Josepha points out, a wonderful opportunity for us to all to follow the fitting, use, and learning to use a Ghost. Pictures are going to be a valuable addition and tool for understanding what is happening.

Best, Donald, Altea, and Bonnie Cupcake

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 4:09 pm 
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Josepha wrote:
H
Gymnasium is key with this chap, all though you've done a great job already with getting muscles on there :)
But it takes time. I would not ride more then 3 times a week and never longer then 20 minutes.
When your horse hollows his back, please go a gait slower or halt and start over.
It is a good sign that he puts up his back with the ghost :)

If any more questions, please ask. And please keep placing pictures of his back here so we can see the improvement. That too is a first on the forum I believe :thumleft:

:)
I had cut my rides down to 30 minutes this summer, so I guess we have been on the right track. And I usually give him 1-2 days off between rides as well.
A good reminder about the hollow back - I need to remind myself of this constantly. He is almost never hollow at the walk but he becomes hollow at the trot immediately. Sometimes it can take 5-8 minutes to see him lower his head. Should I just not trot if he's hollow though? :sad:
Currently I think I'll only ride the trot in 2 point seat. It's the only way I can keep from bouncing on his back and making him more uncomfortable. :yes:


OKAY! Pictures. Click on thumbnails to enlarge the pic. Pictures are taken at the walk and halt as I circled the camera person. My stirrups are shorter this time to accommodate me doing more 2-pt seat. Sorry about the bulky jacket - I know it makes it impossible to see my pelvis, it it was SO cold I refused to take the jacket off! :ieks:

(excuse me looking down =p I wasn't expecting the picture to be snapped right then)
Image
Ahhh stretch
Image
Image
Image
I realize now I'm leaning a bit forward in a couple of these :blush: oops
Image
And wow, I'm really impressed with how he's stepping under my weight with that hind leg! :clap:
Image


Now the video.
Watching these is actually pretty painful as he looks so uncomfortable. :blush: The way his neck and tense and jutted out. When I do a 2-pt and we trot around for 5 minutes he will start to soften, usually with the application of my inside leg. Then he'll stretch down. We had warmed up at the walk and trot in hand, but it was bitterly cold and windy and both of us were stiff and grumpy over the cold. :roll:

First video is a tiny bit of us walking, nice and loose and then I ask for alittle trot and pop into a 2 point seat. Can't remember if I post in this one or not but I know he wants to go out the gate, lol. (dang trailer still hasn't been moved and gate hasn't been put back up so I'm avoiding letting him get too close to the opening)
Image

Second video I believe I tried posting. I thought I was actually being quieter and more gentle this time. :blush: Guess he didn't think so.
Image


As you can see it's a bit difficult for me to find any point of balance with the stirrups. At the walk I put almost no weight in my stirrups, as it feels uncomfortable to do so. But as soon as I start trotting I have to use them and it all goes wonky. 2-pt is atleast relatively comfortable. It doesn't look like my butt is out of the saddle but it is... even if just an inch or two.

And this is what Diego thinks of all the pictures and posing....Image
Note the expression (and the great step under! :funny: ).


Edit: Important note about these videos - many months after these were filmed it was discovered by a chiropractor that D had 3 pinched nerves in the croup area, crooked pelvis and limited range of mobility in his hind legs due to an old lumbar spinal injury. The tension and pain seen in the videos were before this was diagnosed: IE not saddle related.

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Last edited by Colinde~ on Fri Apr 01, 2011 2:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 5:31 pm 
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VERY NICE! :yes:

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"Ride reverently, as if each step is the axis on which the earth revolves"


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 6:22 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:03 am
Posts: 760
Colinde,
very nice job on doing the photos and videos. It's actually fairly easy to see what you two are doing.
I'm just learning myself so no expert opinion, but I'll give it anyhow so hopefully I can learn with you when someone can speak with more knowledge and experience.
I think everything looks beautiful at the walk. He seems comfortable and relaxed.
I suspect his trot is not that easy to sit and I don't know his age and training level. I'm not sure if lots of posting is the best to do right now because it makes it harder for the two of you to relax. Your body is very nice and vertical in some pictures but it looks like you are bracing a bit which may affect several muscle groups.
I'm wondering if you could try to ask just for a few steps of trot at a time and sit it as relaxed as you can, including giving him a completely draped rein. It looks like he may be very sensitive to even lighter pressure on his nose that comes from the reins bouncing a bit. It could be partly your elbows are locked at your side rather than following more with his head movement but maybe even the material of the reins (very light)? I realize this is probably all my Western Riding perspective.
I'm really interested what others see.
I'll go back to your intro now (and diary if you have one) and find out what you already shared there.

Thanks so much for posting all of this, it helps all of us to learn. :D :f:

Birgit


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