I think I managed to figure out why Reason won’t go forward. As usual, a large part of me certainly believed that it was related to pain somewhere. Although the first and easiest mind you, place to point as the culprit was the feet (he is barefoot) and the saddle which isn’t horribly ill-fitting. But, I wasn’t sold on those alone. Reason’s vet checked his back for pain and found none. After explaining that my jump saddle is a bit tight at the shoulder, she also noted that in fact his shoulder wasn’t showing signs of pain. Instead, his girth area was sensitive and painful. The poor boy :(. We talked about different girths and girth placement. I am not a novice, I do know where a girth goes, but apparently it needs to go further back and I need to find a wider one with a belly plate possibly to accommodate him. My vet also noted that it’s important to buy a girth with elastic at both ends because the horse gets some expansion on one side but not the other with your traditional girth with elastic at only one end.
My Dressage saddle’s girth is too large for Reason. I remember someone on another blog, an eventer, noted that longer billets on a jump saddle were needed for their side sensitive horse to accommodate a shorter girth. Is it true that a shorter girth is more comfortable for the horse? It seems like it would be to me. Anyway my Dressage girth is too long, meaning I have to fasten it up higher on the billets, meaning it covers almost the entire girth area leaving little room for natural movement and expansion.
I decided to ditch the saddles altogether and see what kind of ride I could get. Well, much better if I do say so! The whole experience was altogether better. I felt like the tense nature of the air when I would ride Reason, was gone and we were actually just enjoying our ride! Because of that, I felt so much more relaxed and able to communicate with him. Yay!!!
Reason had the weekend off, so yesterday was our first ride since Friday. I hopped on and off we went and he was a perfect gentlemen. Of course he still demands perfection in how you ask and apply aids and of course he still gets opinionated, but it’s no longer coming from a place of pain and frustration but rather a place of light-hearted, cheeky, young horse-land. I’m learning to be more aware of my body doing this bareback thing as well. I’m trying to practice staying centered and light. Wow, does it ever feel good to be riding like this again! This is the horse I knew was in there. I no longer get evasions, I no longer get dropping of the shoulder and refusing to go forward. I get a happy, willing horse who is actually quite with it and responsive. Ahhhh!
Granted I still want to probably put shoes or buy boots for Reason. I do feel that he is hesitant to really relax and come into his body and move out freely. There is some resistance in his gaits that I believe is related to his feet. I do want to buy a new (well used probably) saddle that fits both of us better and most importantly a really nice comfy girth. I’m hoping all this will help solve our problems. Until then, I’m staying bareback. Well, until I get a new girth at least. Even then I think the girth area needs time to heal from whatever pain it has been dealt with due to the girth or whatever else could have caused it. I want to just get Reason comfortable moving forward and try to open him up, get the girth area healed in some way and then go back to a saddle (with new girth of course.)