It's been so interesting. I'm sure if you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know I've had trouble with my trot rhythm, have a hard time seeing a distance, and tend to get left behind fairly often. Thursday, saddle trial day, was a decent day. Tiki was just OK due to the fact that it had been a whole week since I'd ridden in the ring, and it had stormed Wed night, so he didn't go out at all. Our flat work was so so, and the jumping was good in the sense that I didn't get left behind at all. Friday, however, was a different story all together. He came out with a good attitude! I walked 2 laps on a loose rein, then slowly shortened them as I asked for a trot. At that point, Tiki did something he's never done before ... stretched his neck ALL the way out and trotted with his nose on the ground. Tells me his back was happy!:) Let him warm up on a pretty loose rein, then began to shorten and ask for flexion. Had to use a LOT of leg, some spur, and a little bit of clucking to get him forward enough, but at least his rhythm was a good one; he was just too slow. Did shoulder in today, and he felt good ... he is starting to feel slightly more bendable because I've started doing carrot stretches every day. Y'all should hear his neck pop as he reaches around for those carrots!
Canter felt awesome both ways; seems like our lead problems are mostly a thing of the past. My leg felt SO tight; no swinging at ALL. I have a good tight leg, it just swings at the canter, and 95% of the time, swings back over fences ... always has. Friday, it didn't. Trotted into a tall cavelletti, and he was perfect. Just kept going. Came down to a trot, turned a corner, trotted another cavelletti, trotted, turned, trotted another cavelletti, trotted in/cantered out of the crossrail line, etc. Just kept going for about 3 minutes until he felt like butter. Didn't miss a single distance. Our only faux pas was when I cantered into the "big" vertical, and it sort of took him by suprise so he tried to skitter out on the left, but I used my eye, left leg, grabbed mane, and he went over. It wasn't pretty, but he did it. Cantered another cavelletti and he nailed it, so cantered to the "big" jump again. Absolutely, positively, nailed it. Quit there.
What a difference a properly fitted/balanced saddle makes. I've been one of those riders that's pretty much always had some sort of saddle that I've simply used on everything, and that's worked out fine for me. Never had a saddle that put me in such a nice position, despite the fact that my seat bones are a little tender! The seat is a completely different shape than what I'm used to, and even though it's comfortable, it's not cushy. I will be investing in one of those fleece seat savers for my bootie for when I trail ride in the new saddle. Taking the weekend off, then riding every day next week!:)