Today Red became our horse fully again, so to celebrate we went out on a long ride. We rode the first part of the Wenallt trail, through the Ganol, into Fforest Fawr, and then back through the Ganol and the Wenallt – nearly 3 hours riding. We have a friend staying with us so she rode Red for the first half of the ride and ’ö-Dzin rode him for the second half. Red was a little stubborn with our friend – seeing if he could get away with turning for home a few times – but eventually settled down. I think his feet may be a little softer than usual as well, because of all the wet weather, so we shall definitely be buying some boots to help him out during this rainy time. Thank you Victoria for the suggestion of Old Mac boots. I had heard that they were good and will probably try this type.
It may be a little anthropomorphic of me, but I felt Red was glad to be back with us. When I was adjusting his bridle he was really affectionate, nuzzling into me, resting his head. I stroked his lovely soft muzzle and he almost closed his eyes with contentment – it was a special, gentle moment. His bridle needed a lot of adjusting – it looked as though it had been used with the chin strap done up over the top of the cross-under pieces. This is a big mistake because it means that the cross-under straps cannot release and loosen after you have applied pressure on the reins. Cross-under bridles do need to be adjusted correctly and do not function if put on or used incorrectly – perhaps this is why some people do not get on well with them.
If I had had any doubts about my treeless saddles after reading recent negative comments about them on other blogs, they were allayed today. After a ride of this length that included some steep hills and awkward horse access points to the trails, Dee and Red would have had very sweaty backs and noticeable saddle pressure marks from their treed saddles. When we took the saddles off them both today, the only sweat marks were under their bellies from the girths, and there were absolutely no pressure marks on their backs – in fact you wouldn't have been able to tell that they had had saddles on their backs. I believe these treeless saddles distribute the weight of the rider so effectively, that as long as a sufficiently well padded numnah is used to avoid direct contact of the saddle with the line of the spine, they actually apply less pressure to a horse’s back. With a treed saddle, the weight is inevitably focused on the outline of the tree, and in particular the prongs that go down onto the shoulder.
It has been a magical day. Amazingly it didn’t rain at all while we were riding, although it rained in the morning and is raining again now. We are so glad we have decided to keep Red. Dee was friendly with him and they seemed glad to be riding out together again. All feels well with the world – happy horses and happy riders. I am experiencing that delightful, mellow, warm glow of being a little tired after exercise, but relaxing into the pleasure of a successful and enjoyable day.