Sunday, September 7, 2008

Two Questions in My Mind

(Yesterday evening on the trail 7 p.m., a storm was rumbling off to the south but it never reached us; I love a storm sky!)

1. What do you think of this sweat pattern?

This is from a 2-hour ride including some galloping, on a hot day. It is very typical. The part of his back that is under the saddle is dry, while the part that is just under the blanket is wet:

I just wonder if the dryness is saying the saddle isn't resting properly, or I am so heavy that I am forcing all the sweat into the blanket & need to lose 40 pounds, or everything is fine.

2. How much eating on the trail is too much eating?

Here you see John going through nose-high tasty grass. He likes to grab a mouthful as he goes. He likes to grab another, and then dive for a big bite, and then...well you see the direction. His pasture has very little grass these days and they aren't putting out hay, so while he is in no danger of drying up & blowing away, he
is afflicted with the munchies. I like to let him eat at stopping points:

but I am thinking this means I have not exactly drawn a bright line for him about road food. And John understandably might think, if it's ever OK to eat under saddle, it is always OK.

What do you think?


lytha said...

Flying Lily,

I'm confused and perplexed by this sweat pattern! It's such a large area, and even on both sides, I just don't know. Obviously it's better than having smaller pressure spots, and I can't believe that this is caused by too much weight.

I hope someone else can give you input on this - I've never seen a sweat pattern like this, and I'm one of those people who always inspects sweat patterns after riding.

I tried to train my horse to eat grass whenever I said to, even just a bite, because during an endurance ride, the horses often don't want to eat grass along the trail, and they should. Sometimes when I'm riding Galim back to the barn, he doesn't want to snack on the trail anymore, he just wants to get home. This is why I'm teaching him when I press on his mane with my fingers, he should eat a bite. I wonder what the horse is thinking when they want to get a move on, and they're being told to graze. It's a silly problem to have, "Take a bite of that lovely green grass!" "No, must hurry!"

Funnily, I was on my first trail ride with a good friend, and she asked me some questions about my thoughts about training. One of her questions was, "How do you feel about eating on the trail?" and I replied, "Oh, you can go ahead and eat anything you like, it won't bother me." *snicker*

~beth in Seattle

Flying Lily said...

Beth, it confuses the heck out of me too. He does not seem back sore by my (unscientific) poke-with-fingers test, and we do go for long rides so he ought to be sore if it's that bad a fit. But the saddle was purchased when he was 3 and he's now 6, and muscled up a lot. His back is round like a pipe. Interesting about encouraging endurance horses to eat; if John ever hears about that, he will try to switch careers!

cdncowgirl said...

Is it possible to try other pads/saddles to see if the pattern changes?
It could be due to saddle fit, especially since he was quite young when you first bought it.
However if he doesn't seem sore... ?
I sometimes have similar patterns when my horses don't work hard enough to get a really good sweat going. If they are just starting to break sweat it is like that, but if they are working and get really sweaty then its pretty much completely wet under the saddle and pad.

jesterjigger said...

Yeah, good luck figuring it out! I doubt that all of the sweat is being forced into the saddle pad, but it's odd that it's so large! Do keep us updated, ordinarily I would think it signified a saddle fit problem, but who knows. Is the horse happy enough to be saddled?

Flying Lily said...

He is happy to be saddled, and happy to go out, and never eager to end the ride. However, he has a high pain threshold generally and doesn't react to much in the way of shots, cuts, bites, etc. so I am not 100% confident. I will experiment with some other pads and see what I get.

Palomino Girl said...

This would leave me to believe that the saddle is not fitting properly, in one degree or another. Try putting the saddle on without any blankets. I should lock down over his withers and wrap around his barrel. If the saddle fits, you're probably looking at a blanket problem--maybe too thick? My first first guess is that the saddle might be too narrow for him.

He is such a nice looking horse. I've admired him ever since I started reading your blog!

Flying Lily said...

Palomino Girl: I will try the saddle without blanket asap and see what I can discover. And try some thinner pads too. He has almost no withers (at least compared with SharkFin my TB) but he does have a pocket behind where a wither would be and I will check how the saddle fits on that.

Anonymous said...

I just have to tell you I have Johns twin in Maine!! I love him BIG I too started riding late in life , My "Sonny" does not exactually fit the dressage motiff but hay ... what ever!! Love you blog ... When my daughter gets home Ill try and send a pic , they are so similar {handsome]

Flying Lily said...

Can't wait to see John's twin from Maine! He had a full brother up for sale for awhile on DreamHorse, and I wanted him so bad -- not that I have the slightest need for another horse LOL.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

My daughter's blue roan horse gets a similar sweat pattern. When I first noticed it, I spent a lot of time testing for soreness after she rode and the next morning too. He never has shown any signs of pain or discomfort. After noticing the same pattern after using three different saddles(barrel, cutting and roping)and no soreness, I didn't worry about it anymore. But, I would try some different things to see if you get a change in the sweat pattern.
The one thing I have noticed is that Rip doesn't really round his back when he moves, stops hard or transitions. We have been working on that, but he isn't going to change a whole lot in that regard.

cdncowgirl said...

Hey there FL! I've left you an award over at my blog :)

Flying Lily said...

Cdncowgirl! You sweetheart!Thank you so much. I will take care of this asap and I am thrilled!

Balance said...

Hi, I really enjoy your blog.

One simple test to see if the saddle is too small is to sit in the saddle, and see how many fingers you can fit between the pommel and the withers. Two to two and a half is ideal. More than 3 most likely means the saddle is too small (less than 2 means it's too big). This is a general rule, though, and horses with flat, round withers can make an exception. They might have more clearance between pommel and withers. There's also some test you can do with a coat mold the wire to the horse's withers, and then see how that angle fits under the empty saddle. I've never tried that one.

And, of course, fitting at the the withers doesn't guarantee that the rest of the saddle fits, but it's a pretty good sign.

Happy Trails,

Flying Lily said...

Thanks Balance! I'll try these tests. John will enjoy trying to eat the coat hanger.