March 18, 2013

Saddles and shoes

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Since Kasane has been undersaddle, we’ve gradually discovered and corrected several problems. We did a saddle fitting and discovered that my Courbette Magic dressage saddle didn’t fit her at all. Got a new saddle which made a huge difference.

Over this past winter, I’ve noticed Kasane moving oddly on her back legs. For example, her stride when trotting looked uneven like the paces were not the same between one side and the other. Sometimes it looked like she favored one back leg (i.e., her stride was shorter with her back left verses her back right), and another time she appeared to favor the other leg. Never consistent. When she seemed to be off like that, we would work a little to see if she exercise helped her work out of it (nope). She would have a few days off just in case she had pulled something being stupid out in the fields. We would then resume work and see how she was.

My dressage instructor, Jennifer, asked if Kasane might be a little tender footed on her front feet. Jennifer had noticed during lessons that Kasane didn’t seem to push off as much on her hind legs as much. This made me start thinking about how she moves and when she moves best. Over the next few weeks, I made mental notes of her movement when the ring was soft after a rain or when the footing was harder. We have a nice riding ring: the footing is good, but it can get a little hard even though it is dragged regularly. There are some small stones, but nothing major. Nothing I would have considered.

So we did an experiment. Instead of trying to have the vet out and do a lameness exam ($$$), I decided to try front shoes ($) on her sparkly toes. What a difference!

This first video is of Kasane being ridden in her old saddle, the Courbette Magic dressage saddle. This saddle fit Isis beautifully, but was too long for Kasane. That’s why the saddle looks like it’s too far forward on her. She never tracked straight when being ridden in the Magic saddle. She would two track — and no wonder with pressure over her kidneys and pressure on her shoulder blades. My brave little girl never complained. I felt so bad when we found out how much the saddle didn’t fit her.

This second video shows Kasane being ridden in the Prestige Monoflap dressage saddle. She uses her shoulders a lot more than in the first video. See how she reaches more with her front legs? She is more animated and her stride is longer. This new saddle is amazing. I love it and she moves like a complete different horse in it. This video has my dressage instructor riding in it.

And finally, a video from this past week showing Kasane being ridden in the Prestige dressage saddle with her new front shoes on. The biggest change is how much she reaches up underneath herself with her back legs. If you watch her walk, you’ll notice that her back feet land in front of the hoofprints from her front feet. (This is very good.) She is now pushing off more with her hind legs. Her back sways more, she reachers more with all of her feet (instead of just her shoulders — which was the big change with the new saddle). With her shoes on, she is using herself more, which means she can be more athletic — and I can ask more of her doing our rides. It’s like suddenly having running shoes instead of trying to run in high heels.

Overall, pretty awesome. Now I just have to correct my own riding issues with keeping my balance and not dropping my shoulder (which causes her to drop her inside shoulder).

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