Aspen the Rodeo Star

It's absolutely gorgeous and sunny out right now, albeit 34 degrees, with just a little wind.  As soon as I finished my post about the broken Yo-Yo game I went out to see Aspen, who has been dubbed Moose Lips by the way.  She's got the cutest, moose-y lips ever, and when I look at her muzzle I can't help but think of a little moose.  :)  So endearing.  :)

She once again followed me into the arena after being fed her grain and once again knocked over all my buckets, barrels, and jumps that I had set up.  We started off a little differently today than normal, I got her moving sideways, doing some good yo-yos (without the anticipation of a send!), and thinking about doing a lot of Touch It on different things, finally landing on the saddle.  I found my girth extender and felt like today was the day to introduce her to it.  We worked on her putting effort to getting to the saddle - she is starting to get the idea to look for obstacles and things to put her nose on...but has a really strong focus on me.  If she can draw into me, follow me around, and stand next to me that's her main goal - which I find invaluable... However, I do want her to feel equally as confident about visiting other things than simply trying to come into me all the time.

I saddled her with the rope on the ground, she was very confident and very polite about standing to be tacked.  Surprisingly no negative reaction to the saddle, pad, or girth (but she's got a negative reaction about being mounted/ interesting!).  I tightened her girth three times all the while getting her to move her feet, sideways, over poles, jump the barrels, back up, etc.  Very positive and confident.  Yay! :)

Unfortunately the arena has some very deep spots of sand that are nearly impossible to avoid when Aspen's moving out on a bigger circle.  As she was trotting around she would hit a deep spot of sand and speed up.  My impression was that of a horse trotting up a hill.  It's easier with some momentum.  But she kept getting faster and faster through the deep spots, off and on breaking into a canter (a beautiful, collected one btw!).  All of a sudden while coming out of the deep sand she went to bucking - I mean really going for it!  Both heels were straight up in the air, you could almost hear them snap as they lashed out and in, out and in.  HOLY COW!  Then she'd come out of the deep spot and trot around, hit the deep sand and BAM - bucking.  I was too confused and surprised to really have noticed if it was RB or LB bucking... My gut is saying it wasn't RB.  She was very keen on my body language and kept offering to come back into me even when she was hopping around... She's never done this before, I'm not sure if it was strictly coincidental that I happened to have her saddled today and for whatever reason she was dealing with a separate issue in the sand or if the saddle compounded an existing issue...or... what?!  I let her go at it until she could trot around quietly, even got her headed over some jumps and obstacles to see if it would push her to buck again but it didn't.

Before ending our time together today I practiced the steps of mounting, up and down on both sides and lateral flexion.  She wasn't nasty and grumpy about the mounting/dismounting but it definitely wasn't eliciting confidence and relaxation.  I ended on a positive note and called it a day.  It will be very interesting to see how she does the next time I come out.

Check out my YouTube channel to see a video of her trying out her new saddle.  It's not the best of saddles but it's what I have to work with for now - so getting my pad and shims correct will be very important in her comfort and in bring out her athletic potential.

Took some photos of her sweat patterns - anyone with any input would be greatly appreciated.  It had one thick shim and she seemed to have plenty of room to rotate her shoulder blades back all the way.... I'm still new at interpreting the secret code of the sweat pattern - so I will be posting pictures and tracking them over time as I experiment with the saddle.  Need some more shims - anyone have some for sale??

Aspen stretching out in her saddle.

Walking around, getting a feel for the Theraflex pad & saddle.

Sweat patterns from her saddle (On-Line play only today)

Sweat patterns on the right side

Sweat patterns, left

Sweat patterns, left