Like my sophisticated photo-taking method? "Stay horsey!"
This morning was our first frost of Winter 2011. The time changed yesterday which unfortunately makes it dark early but also makes it light early too which I do enjoy. It was too weird when the sun wasn't breaking the crest of the hill til 8-8:30 in the morning. Having some sunlight at 6:30-7 is just fine with me. Anyhow none of my trail buddies could meet to ride today after getting rained out on the weekend so I put on the Easyboots and fit the Specialized saddle to Desire and away we went up the ridge, just riding from home. The saddle sat nearly perfectly on her back with just the basic 3/4" fitting cushions which was a relief after the gappy insanity that was setting it on Blaze's back.
We did just over 5 miles in our usual hour and 20 minutes, thanks to the couple miles of walking along pavement/side of the road to reach our dirt road/trotting area. By my GPS we did about half a mile of circling/back tracking while working on not trotting towards home like a spazz. Desire walks out eagerly on the trail and at a great forward speed but when you turn for home hooooo boy that forward speed becomes the fastest walk you've ever sat (that speed walk that kind of gives you a stomach ache from so much hip action following it, ya know?) and generally progresses to a snotty little jive jog multiple times on our journey home. We are working on that.
Today was a great day for a ride as it threw a couple of unexpected things at us as well as testing the saddle and getting more trail time in the Easyboots. About 2 miles out when we were finally onto the dirt road and starting to do a slow trot I saw what I thought was a big round shouldered dog jogging around the corner down the road in front of us. It didn't quite move like a dog so I sped Desire up down the mini hill and around the corner to see what it was before it vanished. Sure enough it was a big ole Bobcat jogging down the road and we followed it down the road for a little while only 20 or 30 feet behind it before it swerved off and disappeared into the bushes. Desire wasn't perturbed by it and in fact was much more alarmed by the random guy walking down the road (just stopped and stared, moved on with encouragement) than she was by trailing the Bobcat. 3 miles out and heading up the steep hills for the ridge there was a big orange "Road work Ahead" sign and half of the road had been graded, creating a dirt mound running down the middle of the road which made a convenient barrier we later utilized. After convincing Desire to sniff the orange sign and moving on at a trot, sitting a big spook around a giant horse-eating rock the grader had uncovered in the road, and reaching as near the top of the ridge as we could without encountering any road work machinery, we turned for home. This was the time that her hot, homeward-bound self immediately asserted itself but that grader-created impromptu dirt barrier running down the middle of the road was pretty helpful as it made her have to LIFT her feet and LOOK when I made her turn back around and head back up hill in answer to her trying to trot/spazz downhill. She is agile enough that when I turn her around sometimes she just brainlessly spins a circle and then continues trying to trot toward home, its not even challenging for her! With the dirt barrier the first two or three times she actually tripped over it and then figured it out and started paying attention to what she was doing and lifting her feet over it, which got her mind back on business, and me, and we could move on towards home at the walk. A couple miles from home a gorgeous very red fox ran across the road in front of us too! That first sunny day after a storm the animals are certainly stirring. As usual about 3/4 of a mile from home after climbing the last of the hills she finally settled to a comfortable loose-reined walk. When we got home I decided not to spray her off, even with warm water, as its just not warm enough for comfort. Her sweat marks were fairly even from the saddle though I think I need to put a slim wedge shim under the pommel of each side for a better fit. I also didn't recheck my girth enough from the shims compressing after first being ridden in, so my saddle slipped forward on the steep downhill home. I got off and fixed it and tightened the girth, I am so guilty of riding with a loose girth quite often. Anyway I think it was as pretty fun and successful test ride on D with the Specialized. I am getting all the details on final pricing if I do order one when I mail it back at the end of this week. I'm almost wondering if I want to go to one size bigger in the seat, its quite comfortable and feels like it fits but I almost feel like its on the edge of being slightly too small in the seat and I prefer a little more room in general. Its hard to tell because I've been riding the same saddle for 3 years so its hard to judge what is just different in sitting the Specialized and what is actually something that needs to be corrected. If I do order one I'm going to order it with the western style fenders as well, the English style leathers are a little pinch-y for my taste.
Horses are all blanket free and creatures great and small are out enjoying the sunshine coz its COLD in the shade!