Wednesday, April 2, 2008
I should be doing some Spring cleaning inside my house, but as usual, I’m more interested in horsekeeping than housekeeping. I pulled out my white vinegar, soft chamois cloths and Oakwood leather conditioner. My beloved old Bob’s cutting saddle and my bridles need some attention.
One problem that I have on the East Coast that I never encountered in the deserts of Southern California is mildew. The easiest way I’ve found to remove it is with some vinegar and a soft cloth. Then, I use my tube of Oakwood. It’s magical stuff, making the leather soft and shiny without being oily or sticky. It doesn’t change the color or stain clothes, and I’ve had this tube forever.
I also changed out my funky, beat-up stirrups for these never-been-used new ones that I bought for five dollars at a barn sale this winter. One of my neighbors was moving and had sold all her Western gear now that she rides dressage. The stirrups match my saddle perfectly.
I hosed my Supracor Cool Grip pad and set it in the sun to dry. Over at Midwest Horse, Callie was talking about saddle pads, and I commented on how much I love this one. It’s made from the material they use for padding in wheelchairs and hospital beds to prevent soreness. There are little holes that allow air to circulate, and I just clean it by rinsing it off after I ride. Silk had a sore back when I bought her, but the combination of a saddle that really fits her and this amazing pad make her very happy. After many years, the pad looks just as good as when I first bought it.
Finding a saddle to fit Silk was a real challenge. She has a long back and pretty high withers. When we were living in North County San Diego, it took me almost a year before I was lucky enough to acquire one of Warner Ranch’s well-used saddles. It doesn’t look like much, but it sure is comfy.
It always surprises me how many people ride in saddles that don’t really fit their horses. Then, they wonder why the horse is irritable and won’t cooperate. I check Silk’s saddle every six months to be sure it still fits properly. When I first bought Silk, the saddle I already owned was too narrow. I had no idea how to tell if the saddle was good for the horse. The trainers and old timers at the barn weren’t any help. They acted like they were some kind of mystics or visionaries who could divine whether it was right for the horse.
Eventually, after working at a great tack store and meeting some incredible saddle-makers, I learned how to measure and fit a horse. It’s no mystery. If you want to learn more, take a look at Dave Genadek’s website and video. What I do to check Silk’s saddle is place it on her back without a pad and put my hands between her back and the tree of the saddle on each side where the withers are. I can feel if it’s too tight or pinches her. I also check the back, reaching under the saddle to be sure it isn’t putting pressure on her. Obviously, the saddle should sit well and not pop up in the back. It only takes a few minutes, and as a horse gains or loses weight, what once was the perfect saddle could be the cause of a major problem. Your horse will thank you.
Now, I’m going to clean the rocks out of the arena, and it will be time to ride. Yahoo!