Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ringo Goes Commando

So Ringo, despite his many strengths, has a few major quirks. Hatred of ponies ranks pretty high up there, as does his extreme wariness of fake liverpools (especially now, when he hasn't been asked to jump a stick in almost two years) and his firm belief that the white lawn clipping sacks the maintenance guys at the Red Barn use are, in fact, warnings left by Satan himself. There are also his unique habits like always hanging out in the back right corner of whatever stall he lives in, even at shows, and his disdain for any candy that is not mints, sugar cubes, or carrots.

Now at this point, I'm guessing a fair number of you are reading this and thinking, "Bitch please, that's JV league neurosis at best. My horse is wayyy weirder than that..." And you would probably be right. That is, until you heard about Ringo's newest sartorial preferences.

Ringo has decided that he prefers to go commando.

Now, what does that exactly mean in horse terms? Horses don't, after all, wear underwear per se. But they do wear saddle pads which, like underwear, are an intermediate layer that goes between the horse's body and more expensive pieces of equipment like saddles (which let's face it, put any $200 pair of designer jeans TO SHAME in terms of excessive pricing). And Ringo has decided that he wants nothing to do with them.

Now, a little backstory. Right from Day 1 of owning Ringo, I've had a hard time finding a saddle pad that stays. I've used sticky pads under regular pads, thin pads, thick pads, nonstick combo pads, ecogold pads... and they all slide back. Even if I use ones with keepers, the pads inevitably move and bunch. I've checked my saddle fit, used vastly different kinds of saddles, and nothing has made a difference. I've sort of made peace with it, and have used a Polypad in the meantime as it's done the best of everything I've tried.

(The saddle pad wrinkle: the first telltale signs of major slippage to come)

Well yesterday, my pad drifted back so much that it actually slipped right off (granted, my girth was also mega loose, thanks to Ringo's epic puffing abilities). This usually happens around once a month, and usually when it does I get off, retrieve the pad, reassemble everything, and head off again. Yesterday, however, I decided to just tighten my girth (now even more shockingly loose than normal with the subtraction of a 1/2" thick pad) and move on.

(saddle pad in the midst of slipping at Three Day Ranch in 2010)

And what a difference! Ringo was considerably more in front of my leg than he had felt literally seconds earlier, felt freer, looser, and more responsive. Huh? My best guess would be that the pad tickles/itches him as it moves around, which makes him tense in his back. He is very ticklish by nature so I could easily imagine him being sensitive enough to be bothered by even such a slight movement. Oh Ringo. My delicate little flower.

I test rode him without a saddle pad again today and, even without spurs, had a great forward ride (where normally I feel like I need spurs when I ride to keep him adequately in front of the leg). I was able to really push him, and his quality of canter was unreal by the end, combining impulsion and collection to a degree that I don't think I've ever achieved before. Good boy, Ray!

I'm hoping to find maybe a half-pad that I can use to protect my saddle panels to some extent (and look a little less... strange), but in the meantime... Commando it is.


L.Williams said...

My horse is ticklish too and some pads, if they pull his hair even a bit, will make him be "off". I've had it before where I put on pad on and he was lame, switched it and perfectly sound. My "magic combo" is a Dover half pad + and a Back On Track pad.

jenj said...

Very interesting about the pad! I wonder if you could find a leather "pad" or something that wouldn't be as ticklish for him - at least to protect your saddle. I vaguely recall seeing one made by Tad Coffin a while ago.

SprinklerBandit said...

Tad Coffin makes several models of leather pads.

Failing that, it's very 1980s British to go pad-free. Retro?

Katherine Erickson said...

ooh interesting suggestions! Tad Coffin leather pad = over $100 = out of my price range right now, but I know a lot of the H/J people use them and other kinds of leather pads at the barn (on top of baby pads) and they're pretty awesome, so I'd definitely love one someday.

Checkmark115 said...

This day in age, you never see horses go commando. Pretty cool and if it works, why not! Just hope the half pad works to protect your saddle.

Katherine Erickson said...

haha well I wouldn't call us perfect over fences any more, as I haven't so much as trotted a cross rail with him since June 2010. This picture is from March of that year and was, I think, the last time I jumped him over 3'6". Ever. Which is a bit of a bummer =( He had the most amazing jump!

And yeah, I know it would look pretty strange. I know someone who has competed in just a half pad before, and the British showing people (the vague equivalent of our Hunters, though... really not similar at all) never use pads, but still... my conformist side is having a hard time imagining turning up at a horse show without a saddle pad. We'll see...

Dom said...

LOL at the title. The accidental discoveries are sometimes the best. If he's happier without a pad, why not go for it?

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