Monday, February 17, 2014


I wanted to give a quick update on my lessons. I had two weeks off due to scheduling issues and snow (yes, winter finally decided to make an appearance here in the Pacific Northwest!)

I was excited to get back on V! I've had two lessons (3 total now) and I am learning a lot. I got a nice compliment today from my instructor. She said that V responds well to me and is going better for me then she has seen him go with students in the past. This helps me feel like I DO kind of know what I am doing! Kind of.....wink wink!

V is not the kind of horse that is push-button. He is a former Grand Prix horse. Yes, he's a senior citizen but he makes you work and show him you know what you are doing. He is a big love bug. Seriously, a snuggle-poo. When you ride he makes you work (I was in a sweat- way overdressed!) but he never does anything silly or unsafe. He just won't stay on the bit or collected during transitions unless you can show him you can properly ask him and fuel his engine.

So, we are still trotting and walking. Here is a list of what I've been doing and I can't wait to apply these to riding when I get back on my own horses (my lessons are in an indoor arena so weather does not affect the rides as long as the roads are clear to get there!)
  1. Body position: chin up and eyes forward (I tend to like to watch my horse's ears and mane....) leg underneath, shoulders back, don't hollow my back.....
  2. Loosen hips, move them more, and use seat and hip motion to help control horses movement. The first time I used my seat alone to move him from a regular walk to a fast walk and to a trot or to down-shift I was like- ding ding ding! Brilliant!
  3. Transitions: when I was first asking V to move into a trot I was getting a giraffe headed Warmblood! Head would go up and he'd kind of "jump" into the trot. Not graceful. So, remembering to use leg and seat to build impulsion and movement at the walk moving into a flawless (well that would be the goal) trot, keeping him on the bit into the trot.....and equally keep that momentum as he comes into a walk. It sounds counter intuitive but it makes sense, keeping that energy even when slowing down. It shouldn't just all fall apart into a hither-wither jumble because we've come to a walk! Only when I give him his head on a loose rein as a reward after several good rounds of hard work can he just drop that head and lolly-gag around the arena. (Which he does well, mind you!)
I'm not sure I described everything exactly as I am learning it in "instructor-ese" but in a nutshell that is what we have worked on. A lot of trot, walk (one or two strides) trot (two strides) walk, and so's tricky putting all the pieces together, trying to rise on the right diagonal, and keep him together. But there were several times where it DID and it felt great! Especially when I began to feel where I needed to make adjustments, pull him back to a walk and ask again.  My instructor reminded me that if I let him leap all messy into the trot then I am just teaching him that is okay and what I want. So if it isn't good then we got back to the walk and ask again. If he does it then I soften my reins and give him a bit of a release while driving him with my legs and I can just feel him extend and soften. Yeah!

{Wintec Dressage Pro saddle in the photo above, which I found on Google Images from a Polish Message Board.}

In other news the saddle search is STILL going on. Part of the problem is that my position in the saddle I am borrowing for the lessons is tipping me back a bit. That pushes my legs out in front. So I pull my legs back where they need to be and guess what happens? It tips me forward. Its a vicious cycle. We are going to try to level out the saddle a bit next time. Meanwhile, I have another saddle to try from V's owner. It is a lovely, somewhat older leather saddle and the seat is probably a better fit for me (but I think the flap is a little too long) but I am really interested in trying a Wintec Dressage Pro with contourblocs. I am hoping to pick one up at a local tack shop once this crazy snow goes away so I can use it during a lesson, and try it on My Boy. I know, why would I want a synthetic over real leather? The appeal of the Wintec (besides price) is that they have adjustable gullets which could mean the saddle could potentially fit Luna as well. Also, I have heard the Wintecs are super comfortable, easy to care for, and are light-weight. This particular model has a bit of "equisuede" on it and gives you some extra "stick." Some people might not like this but as I will be also trail riding and riding a green horse in this saddle I might appreciate the deeper seat and sticky security. If any of you have an input on the Wintec dressage saddles I would appreciate the input either via comment here or you can email me at Thanks!

I hope your week is off to a good start (maybe with an extra day off on Monday?)

Ranch Girl


Becky Maggart said...

I love Wintec saddles! I have owned a couple, and currently have the older Sport model. They wear like iron! It is fairly similar to the current dressage saddles, but it is all their older more canves-like fabric. It is still grippy, which is what I love about it. The newer ones are even nicer though and I want one! They are so light and mine is the air flocked type so it really conforms to the horse a bit more. Mine does not have the CAIR adjustable gullet system, but they seem to be very handy. I have heard they take a bit of work to change, so don't think you will want to do it between horses all the time. I like the wintec webbers, but not their "leathers". The wintec material just doesn't work well to bend and lay nicely or run your sitrrups up like real leather or the webbers. Far too much bulk under your leg. The webbers have taken some getting used to for me, I always had leathers before, but I like them. Also, I think Wintec has come far with their english saddles and then new dressage saddles are VERY nice. I would say that is their best model yet. The old one I have is nice for what I use it for (dinking around with some jumps and trail riding, I can do dressage work in either of my saddles, my western has great contact! I know it's kind wrong but I love the idea of Western Dressage and it is really taking off here). Not that I have since Odie died....I need to get back in it one of these days. Once I find a arena to use.

Michelle said...

Hi Ranch Girl! Followed your link "home." I have an ancient all-purpose Wintec that I use for trail and beach riding; I will mourn the day when it finally falls apart. And I LOVE their Webbers!

Fantastic that you get lessons on a schoolmaster! I'll have to scroll down to see photos of your mustang. Where in the Pacific NW are you?

50+ Horses said...

I am just lOVING these Posts! What you documented from your lessons applies to what I keep working on.

I traded in my almost new Crates western saddle for a brand new Wintec All Pro. It's sitting in my tackroom, ready for me when I'm ready for it. My horse tends to be more up in the winter so I'm staying with western during these cold months to keep my confidence up (I'm an older rider). Plan to transition to my new saddle this summer. :)

Ranch Girl Diaries said...

Thanks Becky that was very helpful! :) I'm trying to decide between Webbers and leathers- could I just do regular leather instead of the Wintec material? I've heard you can't raise up the Webbers. Yes I've heard that Western dressage is getting popular I keep seeing articles in horse magazines about it.

Ranch Girl Diaries said...

Hi Michelle I am in central Washington- so much drier part of the state but we get snow. I love our seasons here! Thanks for stopping by with a comment! ;)

Ranch Girl Diaries said...

I was originally looking at an all purpose when I thought I wanted to do jumping but now that I'm just focusing on dressage. .....but I am thinking of getting an all pro once Luna is not green and done growing, in a few years. They come in a wide which I think she will need.

TeresaA said...

the best saddle is the one that fits you and your horse. It makes riding seem so much easier. I envy you getting to ride on a school master!

Crystal said...

Sounds like all is going well, I kinda mostly understand what you are talking about, kinda makes me miss just regular horsemanship lessons now I am cutting all the time. I have never used a wintec, but I love the idea of them being more sticky! I wish my English saddle was stickier, lol

Anonymous said...

LOVE the new D'lux lite all purpose wintec with flexible block placement. Lite, fits every horse I put it on, sticky suede is great and my long thigh has room to find the perfect place. Built more like a close contact, but still comfortable and straight enough flap to ride dressage. Not a fan of the super thick external contour block (I owned and sold the dressage contour block saddle you pictured) as it throws you off balance if you need to really ride; like during a buck, spook, leap, spin, or other accidental occurrence. Unless you are built just right, I think most find that particular model too restrictive. The Isabella would be a better wintec dressage choice :)