Thursday, May 24, 2012

15 - The buck stops here. Part 3 (Looking for answers)

Being the dedicated horse mom that I am, I decided to fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge, in order to rule out legitimate reasons for my horse's recent rodeo.

Lucky for me, the Equine Affaire was coming to town.  In particular, I was planning to attend a saddle fitting lecture, and, a demo by my current favorite trainer, Stacy Westfall.  I filled in all the gaps with lectures on everything from Western Pleasure to Dressage to Braiding to breed demonstrations.  I was able to attend for two whole days, a Thursday, and a Saturday.  Let me recommend to anyone wanting to go.  Go during the week.  Saturday was a madhouse.  The lines for shopping were long, it was like moving through a herd of sheep getting to places, and, I liked the topics presented on Thursday better too!  Perhaps that was done on purpose, to try to increase attendance during the week.  Apparently attendance on the weekend is not an issue.

My bad ride happened within the week before the Equine Affaire, and, weather and timing, (and perhaps a subliminal lack of determination?) had delayed my next ride.  So, I headed to the Equine Affaire, ready to rule out a poor saddle fit, and, hopefully pick up some tips on handling a bronc, should I need those skills.

The saddle fitting lecture was a bust.  I'm not saying the speaker wasn't accurate in what he was saying.  I don't know enough to be the judge of that.  What I'm saying, is, that he wasn't helpful.  Basically, he said that saddles don't fit horses.  He even claimed that the horse's left shoulder sits slightly forward of the horse's right shoulder.  He said this is why most horses prefer the left lead.  And, since saddles are built symmetrically, they won't fit.  Unless, that is, you buy HIS custom fit, adjustable saddle.  That was of no help to me.  If I win the lottery, I'll buy all new saddles.  Western show saddle, western work saddle, hunt seat saddle.  Right now, I can't justify spending my kid's college savings on new saddles.

Professional Choice did answer some questions about my SMB's as well...finally using them now!
So, I moved on to seek advice from the saddle pad professionals, ProChoice.  I confessed my ignorance, and they tried to give me some basics on knowing if my saddle is fitting.  Their recommendation, which I found helpful, was to take a look at my sweat marks, and make sure they are even and, they showed me where they are supposed to be.  From what I could remember of her recent sweat marks, everything was looking good, so, I settled for just hoping my saddle was fitting her well.  If I win the lottery, I'll buy the custom fit hunt seat AND western saddles.

I think the toughest part about working with animals is that, we can only do so much to learn their language.  Heck, communicating with people effectively is hard enough.  And that is when we speak the SAME language.  Communication is a topic that effects marriages, parent child relationships, employer employee relations, customer relations, and peer relationships.

So, when our animals let us know they are unhappy, annoyed, or uncomfortable, we can only know with a limited amount of certainty WHY they are feeling that way.  The saddle fitter says its a saddle fitting problem, the chiropractor says its a back problem, the trainer says to send the horse to him, its a training problem, and the farrier says it's not HIS problem.  Just kidding, I have a great farrier!  As the horse owner, we need to know a little about everything, so that we don't have to call the vet every week, or the farrier when we need a chiropractor.  And, the more we know, the more we know there is to know.  Or, there are those that think they know it all, when, in fact, they are living by antiquated techniques and old wives tales, aren't really doing the best for the horse.

Problem solving with horses requires a lot of knowledge, and a group of trusted professionals on which you can rely.  And, the overwhelming amount of information for horse people can be both helpful and confusing.  Sometimes it is best just to rely on a professional you trust, because there is too much information.  But, even if you have a trainer you trust, it is like having a doctor you trust.  They are only human, and, although, hopefully experienced, they are not perfect.  So, it is best to have a whole network of people you can rely on, and a good head on your shoulders to piece it all together.

There is often more than one right answer, and more than one road to get there.  I guess in the end, it is like parenting;  Read all you can, consult the professionals, try your best, and trust your gut.


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