Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Girth Tightening help / Dressage saddle trial.

Tightening the girth on my Synthetic saddle is a huge hassle. I struggle to get it tight enough and with the very stiff straps I have a hard time, which leaves the saddle too loose.
For me it is a matter of not having enough grip strength, my fingers just can not grip the straps hard enough and they slip. If I could just get a grip with my whole hand...........

After thinking about this on my way home from the barn, a solution came to mind and I post it in hopes that it may help another  weak grip rider out there.

I brought with me an old belt from home, and chose one that was made of canvas. I fastened it here so you can see what I did, although this saddle is clearly tight enough.

Slip your girth buckle on the strap first (no need to find a hole), and then slip your belt on strapping it into a hole below where you would like to fasten your girth buckle. Just like the picture.

My issue was that I did not have enough girth strap to wrap it around my hand, and not enough strength in my fingers to hold on when I pulled hard. With this extra belt, I could wrap it around my hand giving me A LOT of leverage when I pulled up. (I also stand on the mounting  block).

I hope I explained it all well, and that I helps make tacking up a bit easier for anyone with some arthritis like me. There are tools on the market, like The Belly Buster Girth Tightener, but I hear they make it quite easy to over tighten. Plus who wants to spend money when you can use an old belt. I chose the canvas belt since it is easier to wrap around my hand.

The irony in all this is that right after I figured all this out I found a Dressage saddle, and with that saddle the leather is so much softer I was able to tighten it with no assistance from the extra belt.

A friend is selling a used Kieffer Dressage saddle, and I am trying it out. Love that about buying from a friend; I can try and see if it fits Pippi! and I! So last night I tacked Pippi up, and we gave it a whirl.

 Here she is. Tacked up and wearing the new saddle pad I stitched for myself. (Saddle pad stitched on both sides with a Dressage rider and the words "And We Danced." So happy to make myself something!) 
Well, no one told me how much easier it is to hold position in a Dressage saddle! Wowser - it was like moving into a Luxury Sedan after riding the Greyhound bus. My legs dropped effortlessly below me, and I was snug and held upright by the design of the seat. I asked BO (and new Trainer) for advice on Stirrup legth and we dropped them another two holes which is about 3 inches or so. She thinks, and I agree, that I should go one more hole down, but I will have to work up (down) to that. At this point I would lose them probably.

The saddle was great, and with a bit of elbow grease I think it will good enough for showing too. I plan on trying it one more time before deciding, as I want to make it does not pinch the Pipster. I hear Kieffer is a great brand, not that I would know anything about that, and after checking online the price is more than fair.

Pippi did quite well for me. I was able, with the help of the new leg positioning, to get her to walk forward and quite straight at a very lose rein. New for me, as we are normally weaving. (all my fault) She is getting used to the longer leg, but our transitions are not crisp at all. Must get swifter at all gait changes and halts. Still just going walk/trot, and will wait a bit more before asking for the canter. (which should be an adventure, as she is a MAC5 at that gait and the transition (on her) tends to leave me behind) We are working on bends, and trot circles, and mostly just on getting in sync. I am having a blast, and find that I am not nervous (to my surprise) but just really enjoying riding her. Love this horse so much.
Please to enjoy some after ride pics:
"Do Dressage Saddles make me look fat?" (she is chubby)

"The other horses are eating........oh man....."

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