Oh boy, so much to catch up on. Not only did Lucy and I have a lengthy discussion yesterday about how to be a polite pony, but there has also been a resolution to the saddle issue!
We'll start with my ride yesterday:
Went to the barn after work. Pony went into her stall to pee and then straight into the crossties. She gave me nasty marefaces when I was brushing her and immediately got her lovely rear end handed to her (shanked/backed up all the way down the aisle). I wanted to set the tone for the entire session and let her know she wasn't going to get away with ANYTHING, no matter how small it was.
I tacked her up and took her to the outdoor and lunged her w/t/c both directions first without side reins and then with them. Total lunging time: about 30 minutes. I had walked out there prepared with my helmet and already had my body protector vest on (I wasn't taking any chances!), so without delay I removed the lunging equipment and got on. She immediately refused to move forward and bucked. I immediately spun her in a tight circle. When she softened her neck, she got a pat and we went right back to moving forward. She took two steps and planted her feet, pinned her ears, and kicked out. This time I made her back up, probably about ten steps. It went on like this and I alternated between circles and backing up. I started out on a ten metre circle and slowly we worked our way up to 20 metres at the walk. She even started to ask for some rein so that she could stretch. I trusted her (but just barely...) and let her have the extra rein (just up to where the braided leather ended) and we walked around like that for almost ten minutes. I was silently rejoicing our success and then I was like, this is absolutely ridiculous. After riding this horse for a YEAR I am celebrating just walking around?
So we trotted. She took a few steps of trot and once again planted her feet, threw her head up in the air, pinned her ears, and cow kicked. This time I was like, Lucy, CUT IT OUT! and as my barn owner says, "her little world ended". From then on if she even pinned her ears she got a stern verbal warning and I booted her forward. I honestly wasn't afraid of her at all. In fact the word that came to mind was "pathetic". Does she seriously think that highly of herself that she believes she should be made to walk forward?
She ended up going SO nicely at the trot that I found myself contemplating a canter. I was worried about trying too much, that if I didn't end on the good trotting note I could be opening myself up for a major issue at the canter, etc. Almost reading my mind, Lucy made the decision for me and transitioned into the most lovely canter :) We went twice around, changed direction, worked up to it again (and at this point we were using half the outdoor, which is pretty big), and called it a night.
:) :) :)
I wish someone was there to videotape this ride. I think you all would have been super proud of me if you saw how I rode. I didn't back down, I didn't take no for an answer, and I didn't accept any response other than "YES MA'AM!".
And now for the saddle news:
With such a limited budget, I have been looking at mid-range used saddles. I had my eyes on a few used Pessoas but they all turned out to be foam flocked. Then I was chatting back and forth with someone selling an older wool flocked HdR for $550. I was going to take that one on trial until one of my friends sent me a link to Stubben's website, where they were advertising a HUGE clearance sale. Brand new Stubbens were going for less than the price of this used HdR that I was looking at. They started around $450! I looked through all of the listings and admired all of the saddles but with such a small cash reserve, I hadn't looked at ANY of the Stubbens prior to yesterday because it would have been a waste of time; I could never have afforded one.
So I found myself contemplating buying a saddle without ever having sat in it or tried it on my horse. I spoke to a Stubben rep three times, explaining exactly what I wanted, what issues I had encountered previously when saddle shopping (long femur, to be specific), and asking about a million questions. It came down to two models: the Edelweiss NT Deluxe with a long flap, which they had one left in a 16.5" seat and 32cm tree, and a Genesis S Deluxe, which they had in a 17" seat in a 31cm tree. I decided to give my saddle fitter a call before deciding, and he estimated that L would need a 31 cm tree but pondered the possibility of actually needing a 32cm tree since she is rather wide through her shoulders, and then said between the two saddles he thought I'd like the Edelweiss better, based on what I had been looking at before.
So I did the most insane thing I've done in a long time and ordered the Edelweiss. I knew that since it had the long flap, a 16.5" would be fine. In fact that's what the woman I worked with at Dover told me when I sat in some of the saddles in-store last week. I paid $575 for it, and it's being drop shipped directly to me from the Stubben warehouse in VA! The more I read about it the more excited I get. Here's a glowing review:
The new Edelweiss NT Deluxe lightweight event and jumping saddle is a response from Stubben to the very particular demands of a specific group of riders. With the handcrafted Edelweiss saddles Stubben has made some revolutionary changes, including both the development of a new tree and a complete revolutionary outlay to the leather types that have been fully incorporated into this range. Only a very small proportion of hides are good enough for top quality saddle leather. A prerequisite for premium hides is healthy animals and such are those that graze in the lush valleys in the region around the Alps where the Stubben leather hides are selected. Made on the new NT Stubben spring tree, this saddle has a flatter seat incorporating the rear area of a half deep seat with a square cut cantle. The saddle flaps are double leather cut forward, utilising shaped knee pads, with front and rear blocks for greater security. The slimmer panel shape provides a closer rider contact with the horse, allowing greater control and feel for the rider. The make up of the saddle leather is another new addition to the range of leathers available from Stubben. In particular the seat and front knee pad leather is very soft allowing a light comfortable tactile feel throughout the ride. The saddle panel also matches the colour of the saddle. One of the most important facts about this saddle is its weight. You get an extremely well made and strong Stubben saddle both in the tree and leather. Stubben quality and high performance together with real lightness ideal for both disciplines. Simply the best close contact jumping saddle that money can buy.
So please keep your fingers crossed for me that this will work. If it doesn't, I don't think I'll have too much trouble finding it a new home without any financial loss for myself, since I paid such cheap money for it. They normally retail between $2000 and $2500.