Blech, think I'm coming down with a cold or something as I feel rotten. Not good when you have a dressage show in 4 days!!!
We've been practising our Prelim 1 test with mixed results. I've been trying to ride Hattie more forward, soften the inside rein , ride "inside leg to outside hand" and all that but she just reverts back to being a sluggish old donkey on the forehand.
Last weekend (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), I did not ride side saddle at all and only schooled astride WITHOUT stirrups (40 minute schooling sessions at that!!) and we got some good riding done! Our transitions were good (our canters were brilliant!), Hattie was carrying herself and working in a nice outline, I was working that inside rein to outside hand and I thought, this is great!
Put the side saddle on her on Monday and it was like that good work we did, never existed. It's so frustrating as I think Hattie has figured out that when I'm side saddle, I only have one leg to use and she can ignore me. Beating my horse with the schooling whip, although very tempting when she tries to pull that crap, isn't the solution! She's on the forehand doing an annoying shuffle trot or either that, or she's going around with her head up in the air and ears forward looking at everything that is going on except the job at hand!
The footing in the school was better last week and at the weekend when we did that good work and it's gone slippery in there now with the temperature drop so maybe that is the reason that she has gone back into stubborn donkey mode.
I've booked the indoor school at the stable down the lane from me where the show is being held to see if we school any better on a surface which Hattie likes (the same place where we went for our brilliant lesson with Lili). We shall see...
On a happier note, my saddle came today to try and fit for size, the new felt panels he's made. The panels are still a work-in-progress so ignore how they look. My saddler asked me if I wanted them made into a Wykham pad or laced on like normal panels but can't decide. He said that it's quite a wide tree and I thought if I had them as a Wykham pad, then if I ever got another horse who was wider that I wanted to use this saddle on, that it would be easier for him to adjust the pad.
Even though the panels are rough looking, the balance of the saddle is better. You can see the layers of felt he's had to use to make the saddle level. He is going to think of a way to secure the off-side flap as well as I can't be dealing with the rubbish Victorian overgirth it had where you needed a groom to do it up once mounted.
My saddler is going to shave off the edges of the felt at an angle to plenty of space for her high yet fat withers while still being supportive on her back. A far cry from the thick bulked and bunched up felt that the saddle originally had in the gullet for a horse much narrower than Hattie.
Another view of all the layers my saddler has had to put so that the saddle does not ride uphill on her high Thoroughbred withers and also to support my right thigh. Looks nice and level! I think I went a bit nutty with my farrier opening up the leaping head for me as now it looks like the pommel on a cheap Indian made saddle. When my farrier comes back out, I'm going to have him keep the general curve of it but just fold it a bit forward.
Every single strap on this saddle needs replacing and my saddler needs to bring the billets a little more forward for Hattie but you can see the layers of felt he's needed to make it fit Hattie. Some of the antique felt he is keeping on the panel as it's good stuff.
I had a sit and a walk in it and it felt weird riding in my Beck Morrow after a whole year of riding just in my flat doeskin seated 1930's Whippy. The seat on my Beck Morrow is dipped and perfectly symmetrical unlike my Whippy which has the seat built out in a paisley shape to support your hip and thigh. It's going to take some getting used to again but I don't think I'll be jumping in it, it will be my dressage saddle.
I also found out more information about the Countess Pillet Will who owned my saddle.
Her name was Marie Marguerite Isabelle de Comminges-Péguilhan and was born August 17, 1874 (a bit of a weird co-inkydink as my middle name is Isabelle and my birthday is August 25, 1975).
She married Count Pillet Will in 1892, he later died of a mental illness but it seems early in their marriage, she had an affair with the Haut Commissariat de la Republique Francaise en Syrie et au Liban, Henri Jouvenel des Ursins. This affair was probably going on when my saddle was made in 1898 (she would have only been 24) but ended in 1911 when Henri met and married Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, a French novelist and performer.
Who would have thought and old leather saddle could carry so much history?