Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Rider Up!: First Ride on a Green Horse

Now that summer has finally decided to show itself, things are taking off here at In the Night Farm. The garden is getting greener and the root cellar deeper, and some serious horse training is finally underway.

Consolation (2002 Barb mare) continues to do well under saddle. I rode her three miles along the road Monday, then brought her back for some trot work in the round corral. Until a horse is well started, I like to be sure coming home means more work rather than rest and feed.

Alternating Current (aka Acey, 2003 Barb mare) is coming along in Con- solation's wake. As you can see from these first-ride photos taken a couple weeks ago, she's a tiny thing. Luckily, I'm only 5'3",and I think we make a cute couple. As a bonus, there's not far to fall!

The bad news is that tack for a horse Acey's size is hard to come by. Sadly, my Stonewall endurance saddle is too wide for her, so I'm using my Wintec Aussie instead. The shortest girth I have is still a bit too long, so I suppose I'll be buying another of those--along with a pony-size bridle, breast collar, and other miscellanea--before long. Adding extra holes to my cob-size tack just isn't going to work this time.

Unfortunately, it seems most tack manufacturers assume that if you're riding a pony, you're 1) a little girl who loves rainbows and bling, and/or 2) doing children's hunter/jumper. Surely someone manufactures pony-sized trail or endurance tack, such as beta halter-bridles and high quality wool saddle pads. If you've found a source, please clue me in!

But I digress. Acey's sticking point during her first few rides was moving in a straight line. She'd disengage her hindquarters. She'd circle. But it took a few extra ground driving lessons -- and switching from the too-big-anyway bitless bridle to her (weanling size!) rope halter to get her going forward. That hurdle overcome, we'll move on to trotting later this week.

And so, we carry on, toiling upward in the night.


Shana said...

I check your blog regularly now. Glad to see things are progressing well.

The last time I bought an endurance bridle I found a lady on eBay who took measurements from me before she made it, so you might want to look around for something custom for Acey.

Good luck, and thanks for the comment.

Jackie said...

Hi Tamara,

Mayatex saddle blankets makes pony size (24x24 and 30x34) woven wool saddle blankets. I have had good luck buying them on ebay. We recommend a thin blanket under the Stonewall Saddle (of course assuming the saddle fits).

BTW I have a used Stonewall on the narrow side (94 degrees at the shoulder pad) that may work for Acey. If you'll do her line tracings and send them to me, I can check to see if the saddle looks like it would fit her. The 20" bar length should work for her too.

Ashley said...


My POA mare is 13.3 with a teeny little Arab-a-like head. I've found that Zilco Cob sized tack fits her, and the only extra hole I had to punch in the headstall portion of the bridle was for using her S hack on her. Their breastcollar also adjusts small enough to fit pony sizes.

I currently use two different pads - an oversized all purpose endurance Woolback, and a Dryback Skito, shaped about the same as the woolback. The biggest thing for me was finding something that was short enough in the back, since she's got a very short back.

My saddle is a Duett Companion English style saddle made for wider, flat backed horses. The toughest part was finding a smaller dressage girth for it, but I did manage to find a very nice mohair one, and I belive they are offered in sizes down to 18".

Good luck with the tack search. They may be harder to fit, but smaller horses are so much fun to ride!