Winery Ride and Treeless Saddle Trial

Dijon's leaser has been asking to have her boyfriend ride Dijon while she rides our old leaser's new horse (it's a small barn so everything's complicated). He rode as a kid, but not recently except a short ride on Shasta. As long as we're only walking on a trail ride, Shasta is an easy ride. Dijon is not. Luckily, her boyfriend is confident and willing to take on Dijon's issues.

My husband and I got there early to tack up. Since my usual saddle was off at the saddler's, I had to chose between my treeless and the teeny tiny dressage saddle. I tried the treeless. I didn't have stirrups for the treeless, so I took them off my western saddle. Then I couldn't find a small enough girth to use, so I ended up taking the girth off my lunging surcingle. The stirrups were a fake suede, the saddle fake leather, and the girth was neoprene. Add in my actually leather breeching and it was the most ghetto collection of tack ever. 

Random tack put together
I lunged her around first and even had my husband hold her while I mounted and then walk me around the first few times in case she hated the saddle and decided to go crazy and buck me off. She was really good though. The nice thing about this saddle is that it's basically like riding on a puffy couch - it's super comfortable. I did feel like I had very little in the way of support so if she had pitched a fit, I would not have had much to hang on with. Luckily, she was good.

We rode up to the park and at the first junction my husband and leaser took the left loop to gallop their horses. The boyfriend and I went straight to stay at a nice sane walk. We met up at the "pond" and rode around to the viewpoint at the top of the hill. I really love this section of the park - all the oak trees create a lovely background. And it's always cool and breezy in there even in the summer.
At the viewpoint
Going back to the barn, the boyfriend did a really good job controlling Dijon. We did have a moment where two other horses from our barn were approaching and we had to move off into a little hilly section. Nilla wanted to eat the grass and not listen to anything I was asking so I just hopped off and dragged her back to the trail. I was impressed that I was able to get back on without the treeless slipping. I also didn't have any issues with it sliding forward. The treeless actually has real breeching D-rings, so I think that helped.

We got back to the barn and left the boyfriend to go up to the upper ring. I had my husband and the leaser both try the saddle. I wanted my husband to canter Nilla in it to see if she would be better or worse in this saddle.

It's hard to say what the verdict on this was. She actually cantered around nicely - no crow-hopping at all, which is practically a first for her. But she was pinning her ears. Of course, she hates cantering even unridden, so it's possible the angry ears or totally about the activity and not the saddle.

I hopped back on and trotted her around a bit. We even trotted over the little cross-rail. I know the treeless isn't designed for jumping, but we weren't jumping; we were basically just trotting over a cavalleti that was x-shaped.

The leaser went down to finish untacking and my husband and I rode down to the maintenance shed and back. Shasta needed to get some energy out so we trotted out and she got to gallop back up the hill. I tried to get Nilla to canter, but only got a few strides. She was a very good mule though. We went back down to the barn, untacked, let them roll, and gossiped with the other people who were there. 

Most of the time, we go to the barn and no one's there, but today Dijon's other leaser was there to ride Chief. A woman who leases another horse at the barn and her daughter who leases a pony where also there. I like our small, little barn as there's really only one source of drama and that drama doesn't normally affect us, it just happens in the same place and we can view it and gossip about it. Everyone else is really low-key and not crazy like at most horse barns.

The sweat marks on Nilla were nice and even so it seems like the treeless was working for her. And the lacking of slipping forward on the hills was an added and unexpected bonus. Unfortunately, the saddle makes a horrible squeaking noise every time you move - even at the walk. It's like riding a pogo stick. I don't know how to stop it, but I may try wrapping the stirrups in cloth. If anyone has any advice, I'm open to it. It's so comfortable that I'd love to be able to continue to use it as a trail saddle even if I find a proper saddle for arena riding.

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