Thursday, January 19, 2012

Blessi and the Western Saddle--What not to do

I finally got a custom made Western saddle for Blessi.  Finding a Western saddle for an Icelandic horse is very challenging.  Blessi has a gullet measuring 8 1/2 inches which is draft horse size but a back length of about 23 inches.  He is boulder-shouldered and mutton withered.  And performance of the tolt results in huge shoulder movement which requires a lot of saddle flair.  Blessi is relatively flat backed but requires some flair to the saddle.  Ideally the saddle should weigh around 25 lbs.  And I have it lucky.  I know somebody who has a 13.2 Icelandic with a gullet of 12 1/4 inches!

So I tried the new saddle on Blessi.  I believe it fits him--this is the third or fourth time that he has had a Western saddle on. Anyway, we were riding in the arena all by ourselves in the new Western saddle. Blessi seemed happy in the saddle and I loved the fit.

So I go to dismount and do the typical tyro Western dismount--I get my shirt and coat--but not the bra thank goodness-- hooked on the saddle horn. Now it's a real burlesque show involving both ribald comedy and partial nudity.

I am short and Blessi is short but I still ended up with my feet dangling about six inches off the ground. Blessi has my not-inconsiderable weight hanging off the horn hanging off his left side. I am struggling to get unhooked but there is nothing to push against for leverage to get the clothing off the hook.

Well Blessi stood like a stone for the 2 to 3 minutes that it took me to figure this out. I showed off my bra and untoned stomach to the neighborhood--and it was cold on Sunday. As soon as I dismounted and got my clothing rearranged, Blessi started to bow. He kept bowing. I think he thought that this one of the weirder bomb proofing exercises that I came up with and I had forgotten to feed him his carrot. Thank goodness I had a peppermint in my jacket--he really deserved it.

However, I am going to tell people that I dangled off the saddle horn just to see how Blessi would react to roping a calf.

7 comments:

  1. Glad you weren't hurt, so I could laugh at the predicament. Very good story. I've done similar things and thankfully Twistur was also a saint.

    Meg

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  2. What a wonderful horse!! I had a similar strange adventure, but with a couch! I had dropped my earring behind the couch and just reached over the back, while sitting, and caught my shoulder joint between heavy couch, with me on it, and the wall--pushing on the wall only slid me off the couch, but my feet couldn't reach the floor--it was such an impasse that I started laughing, but in a fury, imagining being found a skeleton, still wearing one earring! Finally in desperation, I rocked the couch enough to get my bruised arm out (and guess what--a few months later I did it again!) I live alone, but, be warned! You don't want to be found like that!

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  3. Thanks for sharing your story about the sofa. It gave me a chuckle. I am such a klutz. I sometimes pity Blessi. He has to try and figure out what I want through all the "white noise" of all of my unintended cues.

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  4. So have you used the western saddle since? I've been training my little Icelandic gelding. He'll turn 3 this summer. I really love western but am not certain if he'll be able to tolt. For now I just get on him and sit. Very little movement. The saddle I have is my grandfather's and around 100 years old. I've had it redone with new fleece and other worn parts. It's a 14" which fits kid-size & me.

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  5. So have you used the western saddle since? I've been training my little Icelandic gelding. He'll turn 3 this summer. I really love western but am not certain if he'll be able to tolt. For now I just get on him and sit. Very little movement. The saddle I have is my grandfather's and around 100 years old. I've had it redone with new fleece and other worn parts. It's a 14" which fits kid-size & me.

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  6. I haven't been riding in it recently since I gained quite a bit of weight and Blessi doesn't need the additional pounds of a Western saddle on his back. However, friends have been rid
    ing in it. Here is a link to a video of Lord Ivan riding Blessi at a tournament in the Western saddle. As you can see, Blessi can tolt (a bit pacey in this video) easily in this saddle. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSc9DLkAQmA

    How big is the gullet in your grandfather's saddle? (How cool you have a saddle that belonged to your grandfather!!!). Most of the older Western saddles have gullets in the 4 to 5 inch range and most Icelandics are in the 7.5 to 9 inch gullet range. Icelandics tend to have a wither shape that is an upside down U; most of the older Western saddles are meant for narrow, high withered horses. Also what is the length of the skirting on the saddle? Does it go beyond the last rib? Blessi's saddle has a butterfly back and minimal skirting. Somewhere I have a post about different horses from different breeds and their wither tracings.
    Yes, Icelandics can tolt in a Western saddle if the saddle fits them. You might want to take a wither tracing using an architect's curve and do a 3-D back mapping of your gelding to see if the saddle fits. Does shoulder slope and rock match? I hope it does--that would be so cool to ride in your grandfather's saddle.
    What is your gelding's name? Is this your first Icelandic?

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  7. Here is a link to one of the wither tracing photos. There are more on my face book page (Pamela Nolf). As you can see, the one tracing like an upside down A with the indents on the side is the shape that many Western saddles are made for. Blessi's gullet shape is like the top shape. Such a saddle will dig and pinch into his withers.
    https://blessiblog.blogspot.com/2015/07/challenges-of-finding-saddle-for-pony.html
    As I said I hope the saddle fits your Icey.

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