Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bareback at 42

Just got home from riding. Had to keep it short tonight because I didn't get to the barn until 8:00PM. So I opted for bareback. Now, I think I'm almost at the point in my riding career where I just don't feel I should be sitting on a horse without a saddle. I may have days where I'll tempt fate and do it but for the most part, the little extra grip afforded by a bareback pad is the way I go now.

I have a nice bareback pad that is shaped to fit the horses' back and is very simple compared to some of the styles out there. It's pictured above and here's the name of it - Contour Tacky Back Bareback Pad and the catalog copy - "Designed with your safety in mind, this pad has a tacky underside that helps absorb shock, is easy to clean and prevents the slip or rolling problem found with other bareback pads. Heavy-duty buckle adjustments and a durable herculon top make this one of the nicest you've ever seen."

and my review:
I love the way this bareback pad is contoured and fits my horses back! I always hated the way bareback pads will shift from side to side when you ride, this one really does stay put. I have even jumped with it! I also like the fact that it does not come with stirrups, that's less stuff to interfere with my leg contact and position. It's comfortable for me and my horse, I like to use a baby pad underneath just to keep the bareback pad from getting too dirty. The workmanship and materials are excellent and it is worth the price. Definitely a good purchase!

So there I am, 42 years old, not exactly at my riding prime but still willing and balanced enough to enjoy the ride without a saddle. Monty was a doll, with just a Dee snaffle he and I walked and trotted for a half hour. I still love to sit his trot without a saddle. There is nothing that will improve your balance and feel like spending time on horseback with no saddle

Monday, April 28, 2008

Vineyard Ride 2008

Okay, I am committed... or I should be! LOL! I have sent in my entry for the Vineyard Ride coming up at the end of next month. Now I have to get out of the riding arena and onto the trail to get horse fit enough to do this event. It's an interesting ride. I have participated the last 3 times they held this event and each time it kept getting better.

So, you may ask, what is a Vineyard ride? Well, it's mixing wine tasting and horseback riding. LOL, yes, there are many jokes to be made there but in reality it's a fun and interesting experience. Here's a description of the event, which I edited a bit from the actual registration form:

The Fourth Annual Vineyard Ride - Saturday, MAY 31st (rain date: Sunday,June 1rd)

A wine tasting tour on horseback to benefit the restoration of historic Old Field Farm and the Nassau Suffolk Horseman's Association.

We will visit: Martha Clara, Paumanok, and Jamesport Vineyards.

The trail ride and tasting will start at 10 A.M. and last for approximately 3 hours. The luncheon will follow on the lovely grounds of Martha Clara Vineyards.

This opportunity will be limited to 100 equestrians. Family and friends may “hilltop” (registering without a horse) and will
have an opportunity to participate by car.
We will taste several wines at each vineyard and you may remain on horseback to do so. Water will be available for horses and riders at each tasting stop. ASTM protective headgear is strongly recommended and a release form must be signed before departure. Hill toppers (those on foot) may follow the horses on foot and/or arrangement to use vehicles.

Riders often look for exotic trips to Europe to book trips to ride and explore the European Countryside. Many of
these vacation packages involve traveling through wine country and riding from vineyard to vineyard. Long Island is home to many fine vineyards so why not explore your own "back yard"?

Shutterbugs are welcome to photograph this event. The beauty of Long Island’s North Shore landscape, the
vineyards, horses and people should serve as interesting subject material!

Wine will be available for purchase at each vineyard. A vineyard ride steward can take your order and payment at
the vineyard and will send your purchases back to Martha Clara Vineyards to be picked up during the luncheon.

Last year, my husband and I worked it out so he brought his road bike and I went with my horse. (Horse had to share the other stall in his 2-horse trailer with a bike.) While I rode with the group on the trails through the vineyards, husband took his bike out on the roads. When we arrived at the first vineyard stop, I called him on my cell phone and he was not too far away by bike. He met me at the vineyard and we sampled the wines together, then when the horse group moved on, I left with them and husband went back to riding his bike. At the end we met up where we started, enjoyed the lunch and wine and headed for home.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Synthetic vs. Leather

Here's my take on this issue.

I have a Bruno DelGrange Pro jumping saddle. It is absolutely the best saddle I have ever owned. It keeps my leg and position perfect and secure over any jumps and fits my horse like a glove. However, I have no indoor where I board and I like to trail ride and hunter pace. The Delgrange was bought at a time in my life when I had the money for such luxuries. Now, the thought of using that saddle in the rain or on trail where it could get wet, scratched or otherwise damaged makes me nervous, since I can not replace it. So I took the plunge and bought a dark brown Wintec 2000 for the rain and the rougher rides.

It was a strange feeling in the beginning to ride with it but I quickly got comfortable with it and now the DelGrange only comes out for lessons and the occasional show. I live in the Wintec 2000. It seems to fit my horse well, it's very comfortable for long trail rides and lots of galloping on hunter paces. If I am going to be in the saddle for a long time, I will use a sheepskin saddle pad to give my horses' back extra cushioning and the sheepskin "breathes" well. The equisuede seat is grippy without compromising freedom. I especially recommend it paired with suede full chaps or Kerritts' "Sit Tight" breeches on those blustery winter days when horsey hasn't seen a saddle or rider in a month due to lousy weather!

The Wintec does almost the same as the Delgrange for me, but the deeper seat of the Wintec 2000 is actually more comfortable for longer rides. I do have the Cair and the gullet system. I never used the gullet system because the medium width gullet that came with the saddle seems to suit my horse perfectly.

So, I have actually surprised myself with how much I enjoy the Wintec. I was always a "leather snob" but as my time has become more valuable with so many more responsibilities, I have to give the Wintec a thumbs up!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Not My Horse...

On the message board the question came up whether horses would prefer to live free or with humans. Thought I'd add my reply here as well:

"My horse is too chicken to live free.

He much prefers to have his rent paid each month, new shoes every 6-8 weeks, meals brought to
his room and to be massaged and ridden as often as possible by a very attentive woman.

That's why my husband calls him my gigolo..."