Okay, a part of me feels kind of bad posting on this topic because I am a follower of Amanda's blog. But it's something I saw come up recently and I felt like talking about it. And you guys get my ramblings because, at least here, I'm not directly posting this at someone. It really is meant for folks in general anyway. I don't want anyone to feel attacked.
So, it began with some folks saying about hurtful comments made by other folks in regards to their size and riding. Some of those comments though, when I read them, just...didn't sound that inflammatory. I remember thinking are you sure that's even directed to your weight? Because..hey, they didn't confront the person saying it directly. (and hey, I suck at direct confrontation so I understand why someone wouldn't, just saying, they don't know.)
Then I saw someone on a forum post pictures of herself riding a horse. Several people relatively tactfully (on a forum not known for its tact!) pointed out that the horse looked uncomfortable (in comparison to the horse she normally rides that everyone seems to agree she does well on) and that perhaps she shouldn't ride that horse. This advice appears to fall on deaf ears, from what I can tell, as it seems no remark (not even a, "thanks for your concern" noncommittal sort of thing) is made in return.
Until someone gets nasty, of course. And now the OP is on the uber-defense. Now everyone is jealous of her and everyone from the groom to George Morris (exaggerating here) agrees she looks just fine on this horse and everyone on the forum are bitches for suggesting otherwise.
This OP has just lost any credibility with me she ever had. (for what it's worth)
People in general, who react over-strong to comments about their size or weight (or really, in this instance, a given horse's ability to handle said size comfortably) lose my sympathy.
Trust me, I get it. I'm fat too. By all measures I've seen, I'm considered obese (though I don't feel it and don't see myself in my mind's eye that way which is...I think...why I find it so hard to LOSE weight because most of the time I don't FEEL fat). I understand feeling upset by snide remarks and sideways looks. I understand just wanting to post pictures and have everyone tell me how awesome I am and how cute my horse is, it's incredibly validating.
That doesn't change the fact that sometimes, when people comment, they aren't wrong.
I would WANT someone to at least suggest maybe I need to change what I'm doing if I post pictures (more than one, over time) that show my horse is uncomfortable. Maybe that means it's a saddle fit issue. Maybe it means I or the horse (or both) need to get more fit. Maybe the person is just full of it (though if several people say it, maybe that's a sign). I don't want people to blow smoke up my ass. I canNOT become a better rider if people only tell me how great I am. Because I'm not great. I'm average, if that. Sometimes I'm mediocre. And the only thing that keeps me going is that I can see my horse is moving right along with me and that we're always getting better.
But I just don't understand automatically dismissing something I'm told because I don't like hearing it.
Okay, despite the previous post, I did ride tonight. I made sure to use a clean (chafe-less) girth and tried out a Rambo neoprene half pad for the saddle fit issue and it seems to be helping. Anyway, part of the riding was spent on gaming patterns (at a trot!) and part was spent on a bit of cantering. Since the real "lesson" bit was that second part, that's what I'll post the vids of.
My takeaway was that I need to work more in two-point and build up muscle there (I really haven't done it much in a while) and I need to canter him that way and slowly settle back into sitting to canter because right now I'm sitting too much on my ass (as Carey says) and letting the weight come out of my stirrups.
So, due to possible saddle fit issues (I've gotten, "no actually it looks okay and it's all in your head" to "OMG what you're describing means its too tight!" to "actually it looks a bit too wide, you need more padding"....*facedesk*. I'm in contact with a professional now, just to be on the safe side.) and a girth gall that popped up (I think I've been girthing him too tightly *is a bad horsey mom* and his girth needs cleaning), we didn't ride last night.
We did, however, do some ground driving and lunging, just to do something. He was, as usual, a very good boy. The lunging was cool because I could see how much more difficult it is for him to pick up a canter to the right (think I've mentioned it before)...now I just need to figure out what it is exactly that makes it more difficult for him (at least, since he did it on his own without being under saddle, I can assume it's not me, LOL). I imagine it's simply a "sidedness" fitness issue that will work itself out as he continues to get fit.
He's also got some skin ick near his hocks, mostly on his left hind. I've been cleaning it periodically and treating with MTG. Christine thinks he just laid in something gross and now has a bit of a bacterial infection thing going on. It's making his hair fall out in that spot though. *sigh* He's also STILL shedding. I make furbabies every time I groom him. But I LOVE my slick 'n easy grooming block!
So yesterday, a few of us went on an Easter morning trail ride. The first real ride of the year! We rode out from the parking area, across the rode, and down through the woods until we got to the river (small river :) ). We stopped there to let the horses drink and splash around a bit. At this point, you can either cross the river or go back up onto the trail we were on before that continues parallel to it for a while. Christine said go up to your left (which I took to mean crossing the river but what she really meant was "go back to the original trail and turn left" to keep going in the direction we had been traveling before the pit stop) so I turned left. And then she was like, "no your other left!" basically.
Except that on that side of the river, you kind of go up a slope which is fine, but the nice slope is right next to a fairly vertical bank of a couple feet. So we get up on top of the bank and now I have to get Mr. Horse to turn around and go back down the slope. "But, Mom!" he says, "it's a more direct and faster route if I just hop down this bank back into the water!" For some reason, he didn't understand I wanted him to turn around go nicely back down the slope, for a second it really felt like he was going to try hopping off into the water.
We went down the slope, but after Christine said speculatively, "you know, they have banks like that in prelim eventing..."
Someone I know has said in the past, basically, that if a horse wasn't safe enough he could put his kids on it without helmets, he didn't want it.
Now, it's not quite so surprising to hear he's not interested in helmets when you think that they ride Western, basically, and wearing helmets really isn't at all part of Western riding culture. And if he doesn't want to wear a helmet, I sincerely hope he never needs to. But it does seem crazy to me, a bit, he's not encouraging his kids to wear helmets. I wonder if they ride bikes and whether he makes them wear helmets then.
And it's not really that. The horses he was referring to and their suitability as "safe" horses isn't in question. I mean, they're some of the safest, most "bombproof" horses I know. I should know, I was riding one of them when her bridle broke on a downhill, narrow slope, as the train was coming not yards away.
Hell, I trust my horse to let me do all kinds of things I wouldn't do with just any horse. He's safe, really safe. And I ride him wearing a helmet. I mean, I've been on him without a helmet, but those occasions are few and far between and generally for a specific purpose (like a photoshoot). I really trust him not to take advantage and he's so far shown himself worthy of that trust.
But that doesn't mean he won't have a bad day, that we won't find something that really will spook him into a panic (it could happen! Swarm of bees, anyone?). It doesn't mean that, out trail riding, he won't trip and go down. It doesn't mean I won't do something dumb and fall off (even the best riders do). There's a reason there's that folk wisdom that says you're not a "real" rider until you've fallen off a hundred times (I'm not nearly there yet).
And all of those things are things that could happen even with a safe, reliable, trustworthy horse with no spook.
It just seems ridiculous to me to suggest that you don't need a helmet to protect your head because the horse is safe.
It seems ridiculous to me to forgo a very simple precaution that could save your life and costs you very little in terms of time or money (my helmet cost less than $50). Yes, I wear my seatbelt in the car, too. I learned my lesson on that one.
I like my brainz. I'd like to keep them around a while.