Friday, 14 January 2011

Moping About...

Sorry for the gap in posting but I've been moping around all week thinking about my rubbish riding and our rubbish schooling session on Monday (and feeling guilty about losing my temper with Hattie then too!)

It started out good, Hattie was going around nicely forward and in an outline and I think I should have left it there after about 20 minutes as Hattie HATES schooling at the best of times. Instead since everything was going well, I thought "why not try working on our canter?".


We got a few shuffling strides on the right rein after multiple tries and none on the left rein.

My stupid saddle started rolling to the left AGAIN even though it had only been flocked up 2 days beforehand. Hattie started going around with her head up in the air, I was getting tired and frustrated....

So I gave up trying to canter and went back to working on our trot and practising our test.

Hattie was still going around with her head in the air, rushing the trots, not stopping so I lost my cool so yanked the rein (MY BAD!!!!!!!!) and shouted at her.

I felt like crying as we were doing so well last summer and now we suck. I feel like I'm battling the saddle and it's affecting my riding and Hattie is getting the brunt of it which is NOT COOL at all.

I feel so guilty about taking out my frustration on her as it's not Hattie's fault that I'm a rubbish rider and she is such a kind mare. She didn't ask to have some lump of a rider on her back and you should NEVER take out your anger on a horse. I feel like a very bad parent and feel VERY guilty. You guys have permission to shout at me and tell me off!!

Plus, the Side Saddle Association Area 12 email came through with the list of side saddle shows for 2011 and the one that we went in last year and won is on it and I probably won't be able to go to it again as I don't have transport and my riding has gone down the drain.

I don't know what to do about my saddle as it's comfy when it's flocked up and Hattie doesn't throw a buck with it like she did with my old one but I don't know if she truly likes it. Is it normal for it to need reflocking every 2 days???

I need lessons too as I need to sort out if it's me or the saddle (or both!) that is leading to such a block when it comes to riding.

Maybe just keep schooling to 20 minutes MAX and just go back to the beginning with riding and when it comes time to canter, just aim for a couple of strides and really concentrate on my position.

I put that foam grip stuff between my panels again as a temporary fix until I have the saddler come out again and to keep the saddle level for the dressage test on Sunday.

I don't know how we will do on Sunday but I promised Hattie that I would NEVER EVER take out my anger on her again like I did on Monday. She just looked at me when I said that and pushed me with her nose as if to say "go get me my food woman"....

Here are some blurry photos from a few weeks ago when we tried out the pelham. Hattie didn't mind it one bit but my off-side side saddle needed flocking up desperately on her so we only walked around.

It was tricky riding with two reins but after a while, it wasn't too bad. I didn't bother riding off the curb so kept that a little bit loose but kept the contact on the snaffle.


  1. Don't be so hard on yourself Leila! Everybody gets frustrated from time to time. And you are NOT a rubbish rider! It could be a combination of a whole bunch of things; weather, feed, not riding as much as in the summer, maybe Hattie isn't getting as much exercise in her paddock, all kinds of things. You're still getting over a bad cold too right?
    As for your saddle, I wonder if she's acting a bit silly because it IS comfortable compared to the other one? Do you know what I mean?

    You're a great rider and it'll all come together again. Everybody has their up's & down's with their horses. (believe me, I think I have more downs with my mare than we do up's! Especially when it comes to jumping, hence why we quit doing it regularly).

  2. Gosh it sounds like you're having a terrible time of things at the moment! And I'm sure the winter weather is not helping either :(

    It doesn't sound right that your saddle needs reflocking every 2 days. It makes you wonder where the flock is going? Or is he only putting a very small amount in each time? How do the panels feel? I reflocked mine until it felt nice and firm and I certainly couldn't get any more flock in there!

  3. You guys are probably right with it being a few things. It's just frustrating though as I want to progress not keep going back to square one all the time. I'm fed up with doing walk/trot tests and we were nearly ready last summer to do the Prelim tests but now we're back to square one again.

    The flocking is soft in places and I can feel where it needs to be flocked up. The flocking at the left front side is VERY soft and flat and it needs to be flocked up there to stop the saddle from rolling because as it is now, the saddle is jamming into the right side of her withers stopping it from completely rolling to the left.

    If I had saddlers tools and flocking (where do I even get them from?), I could do it myself as I can see where it needs to go and feel it when I ride.

  4. Sounds like we have the same problem - mine is also rolling to the left and jamming on the right side of Molly's wither. My pad seems to be doing the trick, but I can't physically get enough flock in my sidesaddle to pernamently fix it - which is why I think she must have dropped a gullet size.

    I've also been looking for flocking irons, I'm currently using a really long screwdriver and a metal coathanger LOL. I can't find anywhere that sells them online, so if you spot any please let me know!

  5. I watched a saddler flock my dressage saddle. He had a tool that reminded me of a dandelion weeder. It was this long metal rod with a little V thingy on the end. The flocking is just wool batting. He would rip out some wool, stick it in the little V and then shove the tool in to stuff in the wool. I'm sure you could invent something, I would think it has to be not sharp, and fairly flat on the end to fit in under the panels. Maybe some sort of fireplace poker? This is the dandelion weeder I mean, but you'd need it to be longer:,r:4,s:19&biw=1024&bih=488

  6. Leila, we all have bad days. What sorts the successful riders from the pack is their ability to mount up again the next day and carry on.

    Owen is an FEI horse and we still have days on which he won't canter, unless I ask for something else, in which case he will *only* canter.

    Three little words, "GET OVER IT!"

    But thank you for bitching.

  7. I believe Abby Saddlery sells the tools (and maybe the flocking?), but you probably need to call them, not online.

    Yes, it is TOTALLY normal that a new flock job like what you have needs this much work. A saddler can only pound with their arm. You are compacting it with the force between your seat and Hattie's swing. Talk to Linda Flemmer about how she'd ride for 20 minutes, get off, flock, ride for 15, get off, flock.... Does your saddler have you ride for, like, half an hour after each stuffing and then adjust again? They should!!

    Remember, you've got a lot more flock in a very specialized setting than other saddles. That panel under your seat probably has at least twice the flock of a typical dressage saddle. You might consider riding with shims and padding for longer periods just to make having the saddler come out more economical. No harm done while you both regain your fitness. I frequently don't bother getting my saddles adjusted as I switch horses so often, and just ride with pads and shims.

    I'll see someone else who got a Manorgrove next weekend, I'll ask her how long it took to compact. I think it still is a bit. Think about it - what you're used to has compacted often over 50-100 years!! Sure, updated and tweaked over that time, but not totally new since then. (And I've seen her do PSG level work with a shim, so don't feel bad about it!)

  8. For tools and materials, point your browser to Abbey Saddlery:

    Under "Workshop Tools", the Dixon tools category, I believe what you're looking for may be the belly stuffer and/or seat steel. Under "Other Saddlery Tools", you're likely to find the smasher, de-flocking iron, stainless steel flocking iron, and the stuffing iron-Hooper's also useful. (er, sorry if that sounds snarky, it isn't meant to be, I'm typing this as I go through their web pages).

    For sewing things up, you want the Saddler's Sewing Needles (needles & awls), used with linen thread & beeswax, working through existing holes.

    I expect there are other suppliers, but I'm more familiar with ones in the US.

    If you want guidance how to do the work, there's two books by Robert H. Steinke that I think are actually easier to get on your side of the pond than mine (I'm a US leatherworker who would like to learn to make sadddlery & tack) that look useful: "Care and Repair of Saddlery" and "Repair Your Own Saddlery and Harness". And there's others I've drooled over, I just can't think of them at the moment.

  9. oh, hey Robin! (I do recall seeing that saddle shimmed once, don't I? Or is it a queen I'm thinking of?) How long did your flocking compact for?

  10. Jeannie,
    The both of us spend too much time online!
    I didn't shim my saddle, but it did pack down significantly over about 6 months. Sue reflocked it last summer at CLH (right before my freestyle and it rode like a different saddle!). It's starting to pack down again, but then I do use it daily.
    For what it's worth, I get my cross saddles reflocked at least yearly, sometimes more frequently than that.

  11. Thanks guys for all the info and support!! :) I will look into those tools or see if I can fashion something out of a long screw driver with a filed end or something!