The Kitchen Sink

Monday, October 5, 2015

This blog seems to be a kitchen sink kind of entry as it’s forming very loosely in my mind.

We’ve had some pretty ugly weather in the past week. Storms off the coast and other weather fronts have socked us in with some rain, wind and cooler temperatures. Thankfully some sunshine of the personal kind blew through as my great friends and team green members Madison and Sarah came in. Madison exudes joy and light in everything she does- so one can’t help but ignore the dreary weather conditions when she’s around.

Geared up for a rainy cold ride on Friday
Geared up for a rainy cold ride on Friday

We met for dinner Thursday and took a look at the Friday forecast- 90% chance of rain of up to 4 inches and it appeared to start with sprinkles and pick up through the day. I agreed to send her a text in the morning on my way to the barn, and thought it would be nice to sleep in just a little on my first day off in a while- but when I woke up to see the big rain blob on the radar heading our way, I texted Madison at 7:15 am “I will be there at 7:30” and threw on some clothes, grabbed the dogs and we were off.

Dogs were so glad to be out again after a few days of me working and bad weather.
Dogs were so glad to be out again after a few days of me working and bad weather.

It was rainy, but still a fun ride. We did almost 10 miles and found a brand new trail I’d never ridden to extend one of my close to home loops. The weather never really got as bad as I’d expected- mostly a light rain- but we were geared up nonetheless. Both horses did great and I’m finding it easier and easier to ride Khaleesi.

Pretty shot during a rainy morning ride
Pretty shot during a rainy morning ride

Similar ride on Saturday. Both horses did a fun 10 mile ride and we had a blast trotting and cantering through some pretty woods in an overcast- but not rainy (until the end) afternoon.

One thing however is becoming more concerning: the white hairs on her back. [Considering she is black and brown, the white hairs are a sign something is not right under the saddle. Some kind of pressure from rubbing or pressing cuts off blood and the hairs come in white.]

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I felt the wintec was a decent fit- had the wide gullet in- so not likely it was pinching (right?) but these white spots kept increasing. Because she hadn’t shown signs of soreness before- I’d hoped it was mostly a pad issue… rubbing somehow… I’ve tried many different pads… still the white hairs keep getting worse and the area is growing. Now there’s subtle soreness after riding her.

I went back the the medium wide gullet which is slightly more narrow. Maybe if the saddle is too wide it’s not getting the support it needs on her back? After a fun group ride on Saturday- starting to ‘ease’ into a horse break for the ride next week – I found the spots were not as dry as they had been previously, and she was less tender. Still- it’s not great.

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I took a few pictures and threw them out to the AERC community and someone mentioned the gullet width is less of an issue as the angles. She’s a bit broader backed than the saddle is allowing. Thankfully I got a response from someone who deals with saddle fit and helped a friend who will be at camp this week and said he will take a look and give me some input.

View of the saddle from behind. If you imagine the angles of her back, then look at the seams in the saddle that point more sharply downward than her back does. This is one thing that was mentioned in the forum.
View of the saddle from behind. If you imagine the angles of her back, then look at the seams in the saddle that point more sharply downward than her back does. This is one thing that was mentioned in the forum.

Thankfully we are still in the Limited Distance category which is a great place to learn without doing too much damage. Anyone could probably get away with a saddle that doesn’t fit great for an hour or two of trail or ring riding- but once you start doing long distances and more intense work (speed, hills, terrain) your gear, horse, tack, plan… it has to be right. Even an out of condition horse has a chance at finishing a 25 mile ride sound, but after 50 miles there is less room for error. Anything that isn’t fitting well or isn’t kept clean, or not broken in… you get the idea.

This is our last organized ride of the season. By winter/spring I need to be conditioning in a saddle that fits her and isn’t causing any pain.

Tomorrow is packing day- we leave on Wednesday. I am excited for one more ride ‘weekend’ but especially to have my “team” there. It will be so nice to have help with the packing, getting the girls ready, setting up and taking down camp, taking care of the horses while in camp, and it’s nice to have company at the rides. It seems we might also be joined in our little camping area with another friend I met on my first ride back in April.

So far the weather looks pretty good although I am over the fear of rainy event riding. While it might not be my first choice, I know I can deal with a rainy ride and not only will I not melt, but I will probably still enjoy it. Highs appear to be in the 70s and lows in the 50s which is very comfortable though a little cool. It’s good October weather. Mostly dry though we might get a bit of rain one afternoon. We’ll be ready for whatever comes.

My lists are printed out and this being my 4th LD of the year I’m getting a better idea of what I need and packing is getting easier each time. I’m not really nervous for this- it’s close to home, a 25 (all the others have been 30), and the last ride for me this year. There’s something comforting about having a team along that makes it seem like we’ll figure it out – no matter what.

I am also excited to have Madison ride along with me on her first AERC ride – I think she’ll really enjoy it!

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So… that’s it. Team green heads to the National Championships- not to compete, but to volunteer and observe and learn. And while there we are lucky enough the open Limited Distance 25 mile ride is being held so we can be part of the fun too! I’m glad it will be an Old Dominion ride because so far those have been my favorites!

I’ll keep you posted!

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