Thursday, 15 September 2011

A Three-Fold Problem?

We schooled in the field today. I like to school on grass as most shows are held on grass and it helps to tighten up our riding too. I think sometimes, that people become too reliant with riding in arenas and I hope that I still get to school sometimes in the field at my new barn.

Hattie's mind was elsewhere today and we schooled for 45 minutes. I think I've found the maximum time that I can ride aside on my right hip for as I felt a little stiff and sore afterwards but not too bad. It's funny, yesterday, we only schooled for about 20 minutes and it was very productive. Today, it took me the full 45 minutes as Hattie was too busy paying attention to people walking on the lane or scary fence posts....

We did eventually, manage to get some good transitions and even practised our working trot to halt movement which we will have to do in our Prelim 4 test. Hattie is good at the halt and stops square! We did the jump too and Hattie did it really well on the left rein but either rushed it on the right rein or did it half-assed and knocked it down. I decided that more flatwork was in order to get her concentrating so we did some walk/trot/canter transitions with 20 metre circles mixed in and rode AROUND the jump so Hattie learns to wait and not expect to blast around if there is a jump in her sight! After a while of that, we attempted the jump again on the right rein and she did it perfectly. A good thing too as my hip had enough.

I'm a true believer that good flatwork makes jumping easy. Too many people ignore the flatwork and charge around a course and then they wonder why their horses are uncontrollable when jumping! At many shows I've been too, you see people riding in dutch gags on the bottom ring or other severe bits in small height jumping classes because they don't have the dressage basics to ride their horses efficiently and rely on a severe bit to get them around. I'm not saying that these bits do not have a place but when you see people getting left behind consistently and unbalanced horses galloping around charging into the jumps despite the harsh bits, then something is wrong.

I ride Hattie in either a French link full cheek snaffle or a loose ring Sprenger KK bit. She can get strong but even out galloping, I have no trouble bringing her back to a canter and trot easily with my voice, small half halts and giving slightly with the reins. As long as I'm balanced, I can keep her balanced and off the forehand. It's when she falls on the forehand, that she becomes strong and why I think she came to me with a grackle noseband bridle and a dutch gag bit!! I've never used that bridle or bit as she doesn't need it with correct riding!

Off my soap box now and back to side saddle...

After riding, I took off her girth and looked at her girth rub. It's starting to heal and our schooling today did not irritate it as we had a dead sheep girth cover on. I also made sure not to do up the overgirth too tight either and tucked that into the girth sleeve too.

I had a feel of my three fold girth and noticed at the edge of the girth right where it would sit behind her shoulder where the rub is, that it felt a bit thick lumpy. I unfolded it and noticed that the leather had not been cut evenly and had bunched up inside the girth. I regirthed the saddle and sure enough the "thick and lumpy" spot matched up where her rub is!
Could it be that this lumpy spot caused the her rub? I wasn't taking any chances to I got out my scissors and cut a crescent shape out of the inner fold of the girth at this area.

The whole girth is made from soft, thin leather and I have never had trouble with any of my girths from Robert Jenkins rubbing Hattie (that's why I fork out and buy them!) but upon inspection of the piece of leather I cut out, it's quite a bit thicker and lumpier than the rest of the leather (the tail end of the piece is thin like the rest of the girth is). You can see the thickness of it in the photo.

The girth feels better now and it curls right back away from Hattie's rub now without any lumpy, thick bits to block it.


  1. Leila
    Sorry to hear about Hattie's girth gall! I had the same problem with my TBX mare who was a very delicate flower in that area. In the end I gave up on leather girths completely and just used a cottage craft or atherstone cottage craft. I put a piece of synthetic girth sleeve or stiched a piece of cotton tape to the centre as a keeper for the sefton girth. I had a lampwick girth with leather fittings made up - it is very smart!
    I also very occasionally cleaned/rubbed the area with cotton wool soaked in surgical spirit after grooming - but only when where was no open wound! This will not only "harden" the skin in that area but also lift any grease which will help to make a "rub" start.
    Good luck! Christine

  2. If surgical spirits are what I think they are (Brit --> American translator rusty this morning), you might want to read the label. I know it's old horseman tradition to "harden the skin" but what mineral spirits and the like to is KILL OFF LAYERS OF SKIN. On it's way further into the system. That's how it gets to be a carcinogen in enough quantity. No, I'm not saying you will give/get cancer from using it. But I am saying you are damaging the skin by killing off layers, not hastening the buildup of callouses or otherwise "hardening" anything. Speak to someone who uses the stuff in a lab setting, we're pretty familiar with the damage it can do. Including cracked and bleeding hands from prolonged exposure.